Airheads (1994)

Plot: Three band members hoping for a big break head to a radio station to play their demo tape and wind up holding everyone hostage with plastic guns when the head DJ refuses to play them.

Review: “I’m screwed up and average enough that I could write a song that’ll live on forever and then after that it don’t matter.” – Chazz.

Chazz, Rex, and Pip are in a hard rock band called “The Lone Rangers” trying, albeit unsuccessfully to get record executives to listen to their demo tape. In an attempt to try and get their local rock radio station to play their demo tape they inadvertently end up in a hostage situation.

Brendan Fraser plays Chazz who is the leader of the band in a pretty laidback manner which does work here primarily due to his likability factor. The earnestness of Chazz towards rock music is showcased nicely by Fraser.

Steve Buscemi and Adam Sandler play brothers who both suffer from varying levels of dim-wittedness but underneath they are good guys. Buscemi’s Rex has an optimistically aggressive enthusiasm and Buscemi plays him effortlessly with equal fervor. Sandler’s Pip is the funniest character in the movie. Sandler’s wide-eyed meek portrayal of Pip provides the movie with the majority of its funny bits.

Joe Mantegna plays Ian “The Shark”, a DJ at the radio station. It’s quite fun watching Mantegna effectively dishing out in-your-face snarkiness to oblivious people. Michael Richards plays Doug Beech, an accountant working at the radio station, who unwittingly gets thrust into a Die Hard type scenario. This subplot had a ton of potential but it was wasted along with Richards. Here’s a fun bit of trivia for you, the building where Airheads was filmed shares a parking lot with the building used as Nakatomi Plaza in Die Hard. Chris Farley as Officer Wilson is also wasted. Farley is fairly toned down here and that is disappointing. Ernie Hudson fares better as Sergeant O’Malley who is trying to handle and resolve the hostage situation. Michael McKean, Amy Locane, Judd Nelson, Reg E Cathey, David Arquette round up this films impressive supporting cast. Also, there are quite a few great cameos which I won’t spoil here.

The screenplay by Rich Wilkes is mostly predictable. It also has some very obvious social commentary regarding the capitalist nature of the music industry. Also as I mentioned above, the writing ends up wasting quite a few potentially funny scenarios here. There are some lines and moments which are quite good and funny but it’s a clear case of the cast elevating the material. Michael Lehmann’s direction is competent. He also does try to elevate the written material but succeeds only in parts.

Special mention must be given to the pretty cool opening credit sequence by Nina Saxon Film Design featuring stop motion animation.

Motörhead’s song “Born To Raise Hell” aptly plays over the opening credits. The film features Brendan Fraser’s vocal rendition of “Degenerated”, which is a song by the anarcho-punk band Reagan Youth. Songs by White Zombie, Anthrax, The Replacements, Ramones, Aerosmith are also featured here.

Airheads is a fun, breezy movie which fans of Fraser, Buscemi, and Sandler should definitely check out.

Also for the uninitiated, a Brendan Fraser renaissance is happening, and being a huge fan of him, it makes me very happy.

My Rating: 7/10

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