Mark is an intelligent but shy teenager who has just moved to Arizona from the East Coast. His parents give him a short-wave radio so he can talk to his pals, but instead he sets up shop as pirate deejay Hard Harry, who becomes a hero to his peers while inspiring the wrath of the local high school principal. When one of Harry's listeners commits suicide, inspired chaos breaks out at the school and the authorities are called in to put a stop to Harry's broadcasts.Written by
Denise P. Meyer <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Teen rebellion + freedom of speech + talented young stars = all-time cult classic for me!
Pump up the Volume (1990) is perhaps one of the most inspiring films that ever found their way to the celluloid forum. Upon viewing the film for the first time as a ten-years-old kid back when it was released in cinemas, I remember feeling profoundly moved by the main lead and the events his character sets in motion. This genuine masterpiece doesn't only teach us about leadership and the ability of one individual to make a difference in the world; it is also a triumph of the human spirit in general and of the youth over decadent grown-up ideas specifically.
The story presents us Mark Hunter (a then young and extremely talented Christian Slater), a teenage high school student that moves with his parents from the big city to the suburbs, when his father gets a new job as an educational consultant for a middle-America region. The days are the early nineties, when internet was probably considered radical science fiction at best, and Mark finds himself all of a sudden pretty lonely in the new school. Luckily, his parents buy him a ham radio in order to keep connected with his friends back east, and Mark finds a unique way of passing time by transmitting his thoughts about the suburbs and the lousy life of 1990 teenagers, using his ham radio as a local broadcast device. Upon gaining fame and listeners, Hunter adopts a pseudonym, one "Happy Harry Hard On" which brings messages of freedom of speech and thought to his fellow classmates at school. When stumbling upon information concerning illegal steps his school has taken regarding problematic students, things start to get out of control. As Mark, he tries to keep a low profile and doesn't blend in with the ongoing events, but as Harry he feels he must take a stand and speak up his thoughts and ideas. But can a voice be heard without its owner taking responsibility to its actions?
The notions and ideas which arise upon viewing Pump up the Volume are intriguing and fresh until this very day, 16 years after its initial release. For the younger ones, it teaches how to stand up for what you believe in and try to right society's wrongs. For grown-ups, it serves an interesting conflict about the bounders of democracy and the part the media plays in each and every one of our lives. Look out for Samantha Mathis's powerful role as Nora DeNiro, Hunter's female admirer, and one of the only people around him that know he's behind the controversial broadcasts. Also look out for a very very young Seth Green (Austin Powers, Without a Paddle) as one of the students that helps spread Harry's tapes across the school.
On a personal note, I have to say that I hold credit to this movie for a lot of who I am in my grown-up life. The film taught me I could use my words to make a difference, and for the past ten years I've been doing just that as a journalist and newspaper editor here in central Israel. For that I will always be thankful to the makers of Pump up the Volume, and I suspect it'll stay my all-time favorite for years and years to come! Naturally, I rank this one a must-see film, with a 10 out of 10 rating.
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