Tapeheads (1989)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Farce, Media Satire  |   Release Date - Oct 21, 1988 (USA)  |   Run Time - 93 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Buzz McClain

In 1988, the median attention span among the moviegoing population was significantly longer than it would be after the release of Tapeheads. Tapeheads was one of the first to capitalize on the general audience's acceptance of the blisteringly paced editing of the music videos seen on MTV, which at that point was just reaching critical mass in cable TV penetration. It's no coincidence that the setting for the film is the music video milieu: executive producer Michael Nesmith helped create the format for the music video channel (see Elephant Parts). Spiked with intentionally arch performances by emerging stars John Cusack and Tim Robbins -- who recite rapid-fire, high-camp dialogue -- and peppered with up-tempo satires of music videos, Tapeheads bombed on its release because most critics didn't get the joke and the film never reached its audience. Years later the film became warmly regarded as a gently rebellious farce, and it's now spoken of with something akin to reverence, as it's funny and smart and holds up very well against contemporary competition.