Chazz (Brendan Fraser), Rex (Steve Buscemi) and Pip (Adam Sandler) make up the struggling band, The Lone Rangers. After Chazz gets kicked out of a recording studio and his girlfriend leaves him, he decides to take drastic steps to get his song out to the public. Enlisting the help of his fellow band members, they decided to try and get their song on the radio in the hope that someone with power in the industry will hear it and sign them up. However, their plan isn’t an easy one, and after breaking into Rebel Radio’s studio they find their only option is to hold everyone hostage until they can get their song on the airwaves.
Michael Lehmann, the director, has struggled to recreate the success and quality of his best effort Heathers, and has favoured sticking to less edgy material, which is perhaps his shortcoming. However, he had a good period of filmmaking between 1994 and 1996 with the fluffy, lightweight rom-com The Truth About Cats And Dogs, and this rags to riches type rock ‘n roll story. In Airheads we are introduced to three characters who seem to be living their lives as if everything is going to happen to them, rather than them making it happen for themselves. It’s the typical ‘making it’ cliché, that if you want to make it in any type of business, whether it be music, film or you want to be a ‘hot shot’ lawyer, you’ve got to go out there and make it happen for yourself. The film presents this theory more as an undertone than a specific message, but Lehmann takes it at least semi-seriously, giving us the moral and justifying scene at the end that does suggest ‘making it’ for your self doesn’t require a criminal offence!
Writer Rich Wilkes, who has written the Vin Diesel-James Bond action clone XXX, and it’s sequel, sacrifices character depth for character numbers (lot’s of cameos, and good supporting roles), and plot for set pieces and comedy. His script is tight and concise, making sure when things might begin to lag, that he throws in some of the supporting roles to keep the comedy fresh.
The performances in the film are all good, from the main characters to the background characters, we get an abundance of energy as it seems all the actors appear to be very happy working on the film. Fraser is the leader, the thinker. He exudes a quiet confidence in the face of failure and gives the man an element of sympathy. Steve Buscemi is excellent as he spits out some of the better lines, while his on-screen brother Adam Sandler gives his character’s childlike innocence a wonderful comedic touch. Michael McKean and Judd Nelson are ironically cast in roles that perfectly oppose some of their more famous outings. McKean, the radio executive, dismisses the band as no-hopers which certainly contradicts his earlier work as a band member in This Is Spinal Tap. Nelson, the record executive, with the power to make dreams come true also dismisses the band, which harks back to his ‘dreaming of better things’ young detention sitter, in The Breakfast Club. David Arquette succeeds with his manic ‘surfer dude’, while Chris Farley easily stands out as an overweight cop who tries desperately to do things by the book. Farley may play the same ‘dumb’ guy in all his movies, but in his short career, his act never became tiring.
Airheads is a good comedy that shows off the comedic talents of its large cast. While it isn’t up there with the best rock ‘n’ roll comedies of our time, it is still good entertainment, and at times very, very funny.
The picture is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and is anamorphic enhanced. The image is very pleasing to the eye for the most part, with a high level of definition and sharpness. Colours are very vibrant and rich, with skin tones appearing natural. Darker scenes are just as clear, and blacks look black. At times the image isn’t as defined as perhaps it should be, with the print showing a little grain and the image appearing a bit soft. This usually occurs during scenes where bright lights are used, but this doesn’t happen very often and isn’t distracting.
The sound isn’t as good, presented in a Dolby Digital 4.0 mix. A proper 5.1 mix would have helped, especially with the amount of rock music in the film. This four-channel mix is very mono sounding. Dialogue is strictly centered and directional effects are rarely implemented, with ambient sounds staying strictly in the front speakers. The rear channels do get some usage, but only when the soundtrack begins blasting out a tune. Overall, the mix is clear sounding even if some dialogue is a little soft, but it certainly isn’t good enough.
Airheads: Special Report - a mockumentary promotional piece for the film, this takes on the form of a news report as if the events of the film were actually happening. The ham acting, and over-the-top scripting make this a worthwhile watch, which is actually quite funny.
Music Videos - ‘Feed The Gods’ by White Zombie, and ‘Born To Raise Hell’ by Motorhead with Ice T and Whitfield Crane.
Trailers - Theatrical trailer for the film, a TV spot for the film and an international TV spot for the film. Also included are trailers for Bedazzled, Monkey Bone and The Scout.
Airheads is a fun comedy showing off the talents of a young Brendan Fraser, Steve Buscemi and Adam Sandler. The DVD is a mixed bag, the sound is competent, but not good enough for this medium and the extras are poor fluff material. This may be a disappointing release, but at the right price, fans should be fairly happy in purchasing the DVD.