Pump Up the Volume (1990)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Coming-of-Age, Teen Movie  |   Release Date - Aug 22, 1990 (USA)  |   Run Time - 100 min.  |   Countries - Canada , United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Michael Hastings

Writer/director Allan Moyle updates the ideals of the 1960s and 1970s in this story of a would-be revolutionary (Christian Slater) who incites teen revolt with his basement pirate radio station. Slater's "Hard Harry" on-air persona is equal parts Lenny Bruce and Jack Kerouac, and the film's first half cruises by on his bawdy, inflammatory dispatches. Harry's song choices as a DJ are stellar as well: underground angst anthems from Sonic Youth, Peter Murphy, and The Pixies mingle with a few classic picks from the Leonard Cohen songbook. Though Moyle resorts to typical, anti-authoritarian plot contrivances in the latter half, Slater and romantic interest Samantha Mathis coax convincing emotion out of the script's more leaden moments. The film's righteous, us-versus-them feel has more in common with 1950s high school pictures like Rebel Without a Cause than with Slater's previous teen effort, the ironic Heathers.