7.2/10
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126 user 58 critic

Pump Up the Volume (1990)

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2:00 | Trailer
Mark runs a pirate radio station and causes an uproar when he speaks his mind and enthralls fellow teens.

Director:

Allan Moyle

Writer:

Allan Moyle
3 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Anthony Lucero ... Malcolm Kaiser
Andy Romano ... Murdock
Keith Stuart Thayer Keith Stuart Thayer ... Luis Chavez
Cheryl Pollak ... Paige
Jeff Chamberlain ... Mr. Woodward
Billy Morrissette ... Mazz Mazzilli
Samantha Mathis ... Nora Diniro
Lala Sloatman ... Janie
Holly Sampson ... Cheryl Biggs
Annie Ross ... Loretta Creswood
Christian Slater ... Mark Hunter
Annie Rusoff Annie Rusoff ... Annie
Jonathan Mazer Jonathan Mazer ... Jonathan
Alexander Enberg ... Alex (as Alex Enberg)
Ahmet Zappa ... Jamie
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Storyline

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 <dpm1@cornell.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Talk Hard. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Music

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Canada | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

22 August 1990 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Pump Up the Volume See more »

Filming Locations:

Santa Clarita, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,601,489, 26 August 1990

Gross USA:

$11,541,758

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$11,541,758
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Writer-director Allan Moyle described the movie's protagonist and central character of Mark Hunter (played by Christian Slater) as an amalgam of Lenny Bruce and Holden Caulfield. See more »

Goofs

Mark says his father gave him this Short Wave transmitter to communicate with his friends to the East. Shortwave radio is radio transmission using shortwave frequencies, generally from 1.6 to 30 MHz, just above the medium wave AM broadcast band. There is no way that these frequencies can be tuned from car radios or common radios, as shown in the film. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Mark: Do you ever get the feeling that everything in America is completely fucked up?
See more »

Connections

Edited into Hollywood Burn (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

Love Comes in Spurts
Written by Richard Hell
Performed by Richard Hell
Published by Automatic Music, Quick Mix Music, Doraflo Music Co., Inc., administered by Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp. (BMI)
Courtesy of Sire Records/Instant Records by arrangement with Warner Special Products
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Teen rebellion + freedom of speech + talented young stars = all-time cult classic for me!
9 March 2006 | by saarvardiSee all my reviews

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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