Pump Up The Volume:”It’s just the beginning, but it’s up to you. I’m calling for every kid to seize the air.”

Year: 1990
Directed by Allan Moyle
Produced by Syd Cappe,Sara Risher, Sandy Stern and Nicolas Stiliadis

Written by Allan Moyle
Cast: Christian Slater,Samantha Mathis,Mimi Kennedy,Scott Paulin,Cheryl Pollak,Annie Ross,Ahmet Zappa ,Billy Morrissette,Seth Green,Robert Schenkkan,Ellen Greene,Andy Romano,Anthony Lucero,Lala Sloatman and James Hampton

A meek high schooler has a secret identity as a bombastic radio personality. The radio personality earns the respect and attention of his peers as he voices their frustrations at society and their school. But, the message he spreads creates a dangerous controversy that could shake up his school.

Being the ”voice of your generation” is a lofty title that many might clamor to have, but for Mark Hunter, the title is quite literal. Mark’s voice on the radio is the voice of reason that his peers look up to and his ramblings are cathartic for them. Christian Salter returns as a teenage rebel but this time with less of a ”murderous streak” than from his time in Heathers. Mark Hunter is a man of dual personas. One is of a mild-mannered student and another is a fast-talking rabble-rouser. Christian Salter’s handle on these two personas isn’t perfect since he’s so charismatic that believing he’s a mild-mannered is slightly everso unbelievable. Though, one could argue the mild mannered persona is the true mask. Christian Salter imbues so much enthusiasm energy to his persona as ”Hard Harry” that the persona’s charisma is never lacking. While the concerns that Marks spouts on about is a tad bit too generational, so, his concerns and rhetoric can be rather dated. Pump Up The Volume is mainly about the plight of Gen Xers. It is their frustration and angst that Pump Up The Volume revels in and celebrates. Pump Up The Volume is, in a way, limited to in scope because of its narrow focus on a certain cultural context and time. Yet, that narrow focus can yield its own positives. The positive is that the film can be a nice time capsule of cultural attitudes of issues that teens faced then such as teen suicides, homosexual identity, living up to parental expectations and among other things. Of course, these issues haven’t left us even today.

Nora Diniro is Mark’s love interest. She could have easily been a tacked on love interest. She avoids this fate by being a pivotal character to the story. She’s the one that gets to Mark to get out of his shell. Nora is quite the active character. In a way, she’s more of more an active character than Mark ever is. Nora’s passion for Mark’s youthful rebellion even exceeds his own. Nora is kind of a mentor figure and fan girl rolled into one, so, their connection is a very character driven one. Though the romance is a bit spontaneous, it feels like the natural progression of these two characters mingling.

The central antagonist and her motivations are probably a bit too one-sided. Considering the heroes are teenage rebels in the throes of adolescent angst, the simplistic villain is hardly an anomaly. There is a lack of closure. But that could be a way for the filmmakers to signal to us that their future is still up for grabs even if teenage delinquency will haunt them forever. That was their way of making a personal statement on the world.

Pump Up The Volume is an earnest exploration about the troubles of teenage angst and finding an outlet to express one’s selves. Although it lacks emotional nuance and is awkwardly sentimental, these inadequacies are perfect for a film that delves into the inadequacy of being a teenager.

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