Everybody Knows Hard Harry
Once in a while a movie comes a long which speaks for a generation, and this is exactly what "Pump up the Volume" achieves. This is not your typical teenage movie as it addresses issues such as loneliness and repression which every generation goes through as they grow up. And whilst released over 20 years ago "Pump up the Volume" still has a message which is as poignant today as it was then even if the fashions on display have certainly changed.
During the day Mark Hunter (Christian Slater - Young Guns II: Blaze of Glory) is an intelligent but shy school kid, who has just moved to Arizona from the East Coast. But by night, Mark becomes Hard Harry, an outspoken DJ on his own pirate radio station, who's sarcastic but honest opinions on everything from sex, love, politics and rock 'n' roll appeals to his generation of lost, lonely souls who drink in his every word. Harry becomes a hero to his listeners, as he challenges them to find their own identity in a society of repressed thinkers which demands you to fit in to a stereotypical ideal. When he exposes the corruption going on within the school, he finds his little pastime becoming the focus of more than just the local kids, as the local authorities attempt to shut him down and only Nora Diniro (Samatha Mathis - A Stranger's Heart) who knows the truth about who Harry is can help him.
"Pump up the Volume" follows the character of Mark Hunter as his pirate radio show takes a grip on the local community. Hugely popular with the local kids, as his opinions and humour appeals to them, he finds himself becoming the focus of the local police as his ramblings hit a nerve amongst the parents and the school authorities. Although at times is humorous, is really quite dark, as it broaches on subjects of suicide and sexuality, giving you the view of someone who is in the midst of it all.
In the lead role of Mark Hunter/ Hard Harry is Christian Slater, whose performance is probably his best to date. The intensity that he displays in this role is brilliant and is easily comparable to performances from Hollywood greats such as Jack Nicholson when it comes to being edgy. In my opinion, it is Slater who makes "Pump up the Volume" as good as it is, and I cannot think of another actor at that time that would have been able to handle this role so effectively. Opposite Slater is Samantha Mathis who plays Nora, his friend and love interest. Although she helps to keep things moving, her performance and those of all the supporting cast are over shadowed by Slater's.
"Pump up the Volume" is directed by Allan Moyle who has done a great job of creating a movie which speaks to a generation but also because he has extracted a performance out of Christian Slater which is definitely his best. One of the most impressive things about "Pump up the Volume" is the soundtrack. Not only does it feature many songs of the period which have really hard hitting lyrics that are relevant to the story such as "Everybody Knows", but the instrumental pieces really help to build the mood of each scene.
What this all boils down to is that although "Pump up the Volume" is over 20 years old, its story is as relevant today as it was then. This movie although not your normal typical teenage fare, it is still very appealing to both young and old. It also features Christian Slater at his absolute intense best. Yes, "Pump up the Volume" is a bit dark and does deal with some hard hitting subjects, but it doesn't do it in a matter which makes the movie unbearable.