Hey, Watch This!: Empire Records

Growing up I wanted to work in a record store. Totally cliche, right? You know whose fault it was that almost every twenty-something has shared in this aspiration? Empire Records. This movie made it look like THE GREATEST JOB EVER. You got to play whatever music you wanted, hang out with awesome co-workers who were vastly different personalities yet somehow all friends, and there was no required uniform.

The reality of getting this job (or in my case it’s sister, the video rental store)- not so fantastic. Think less freedom and more red polo shorts paired with khaki pants. Despite this disappointment, I still love coming back to this movie.

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PLOT

A group of record store employees try to save their independent shop from becoming a large chain.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH

Lucas is the co-worker everyone dreams of having (right?). He offers zen wisdom and is quirky without being obnoxious. I mean, he quotes The Doors. It doesn’t get much better than that.

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I wanted to date AJ so hard. He was gorgeous and artistic and sensitive. He could fix the burned out lights on the company sign and he wasn’t afraid to punch out a douchebag has-been singer. He had to tell Corey loved her by 1:37 exactly. Plus, he took off his shirt while he danced and the sight was GLORIOUS.

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Shoplifter! This scene made me want to take down a shoplifter for real. Too bad retail teaches you not to confront them. Also, his name isn’t fucking Warren.

As a teenager I wanted to make art like AJ. Seriously, I wanted to glue quarters to things. I was an idiot. In retrospect he is super pretentious, but at the time he was as unique as a snowflake and I wanted to make beautiful things with him. Interpret that as you like.

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“Damn the man! Save the empire!” All of us have some rebellious nature brewing inside that loves when underdogs stick it to corporations. Whether it’s wearing only a safety-cone orange apron or throwing a massive party complete with rooftop band, you can’t help but cheer on the Empire crew.

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It’s oh so quotable. My cousin and I were trading quotes back and forth just a couple of weeks ago. Ask anyone in my age bracket, “What’s with you today?” and I can almost guarantee I know what the response will be:

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It’s Rex Manning Day!

WHERE HAVE I SEEN YOU BEFORE?

Joe

Anthony LaPaglia as Joe

  • Tony in So I Married An Axe Murderer
  • Simon Moon on Frasier
  • Jack Malone on Without a Trace
Lucas

Rory Cochrane as Lucas

  • Ron Slater in Dazed and Confused
  • Tim Speedle on CSI: Miami
  • Lee Schatz in Argo
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Johnny Whitworth as A.J.

  • Max Raimi in Valentine
  • Jake Berkeley on CSI: Miami
  • Blackout in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
Mark

Ethan Embry as Mark

  • Ethan in All I Want For Christmas
  • Rusty Griswold in Vegas Vacation
  • Preston in Can’t Hardly Wait
  • Bobby Ray in Sweet Home Alabama
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Coyote Shivers as Berko

  • Bones in The Boys & Girls Guide to Getting Down
Warren

Brendan Sexton III as Warren

  • Brandon in Welcome to the Dollhouse
  • Belko Royce on The Killing
Rex Manning

Maxwell Caulfield as Rex Manning

  • Michael Carrington in Grease 2
  • Colonel Strong Vincent in Gettysburg
Gina

Renee Zellweger as Gina

  • Dorothy in Jerry Maguire
  • Bridget Jones in Bridget Jones’s Diary
  • Claire in White Oleander
Deb

Robin Tunney as Deb

  • Ella in Encino Man
  • Sarah in The Craft
  • Teresa Lisbon on The Mentalist
Corey

Liv Tyler as Corey

  • Faye in That Thing You Do!
  • Grace in Armageddon
  • Arwen in The Lord of the Rings
  • Betty Ross in The Incredible Hulk
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