Initially I thought that Pump Up the Volume directed by Allan Moyle would probably be just like any other teenaged movie coming out of the 80’s and 90’s. After getting passed the credits I soon realized that this movie had something special to offer its audience. Pump Up the Volume is a thought-provoking movie incorporated with really good acting. I felt like this movie had a great purpose because it left you wondering about an assortment of things but most importantly it left me thinking, what will I do with my voice? Although it came out over ten years ago I believe this story to be timeless.
Christian Slater plays Mark Hunter, the main character of the film. He does an outstanding job in playing an antisocial high school student by day and a rebellious radio jockey by night. Mark Hunter has recently moved with his mother and father from the east coast to Arizona where he finds himself isolated and unhappy about their new location. At school Mark seems to be a shy, keep to himself kind of a kid who doesn’t seem too eager to make new friends. Although his parents seem to show concern about him, it doesn’t seem like there is enough understanding within their relationship for them to really grasp what’s going on with their son. This seems to be something that many of us go through while growing up in the homes of our parents and like Mark, the other students in his high school soon find out they feel the same way.
Mark is definitely an intelligent person who excels in his English class but also manages to operate his own pirate radio station by using his shortwave set to surf the airwaves. Every night at 10pm Mark goes live on the air as self proclaimed “Happy Harry Hard-on”. It started off with what seemed like a late night hobby so that he wasn’t bored alone at home but in little to no time he became a legend. He would speak about everything and anything and that somehow got him to speak to EVERYONE. Whether people were listening to the crazy things he said or people were going crazy listening to him, he had hundreds of people hooked. He never had any direction or schedules which probably made his audience hungry for more. Some nights his program would last a couple of minutes and other nights he would yap for hours. His rants would range from how horrible he thought his school and the staff was, to him playing music that reminded him of his buddies from back home and even faking masturbation live on the air. He offended some but most couldn’t stop idolizing him.
I would like to take this time out by applauding Slater for making this movie so enjoyable. The plot has a life of its own but I don’t think it would have had such an effect on me if it weren’t for his lively hood on screen. He finds a way to magically come alive and transform into Happy Harry with what I think is his best performance I’ve seen from him.
To some it was unfortunate that he was caught at the end of the movie but I believe that that only helped this late night DJ become an even bigger legend. Harry had the main focus to spread the word. Any word, really. He was dedicated to educating the people of his time and letting them know that they had opinions and they should be able to express them without the fear of closed-minded adults shutting them up. The greatest part about all of this was not just the message he wanted to relay but more importantly the positive influence he made on all of the teenagers he actually spoke to. When he spoke, they were really listening. I was really listening too.
I guess the truth of the matter is, sometimes rebels DO have a cause.