Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Michael Lehmann|
|Produced by||Mark Burg|
|Written by||Rich Wilkes|
|Music by||Carter Burwell|
|Edited by||Stephen Semel|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$5.8 million (domestic)|
Airheads is a 1994 American comedy film written by Rich Wilkes and directed by Michael Lehmann. It stars Brendan Fraser, Steve Buscemi, and Adam Sandler as a band of loser musicians who stage a hijacking of a radio station in order to get airplay for their demo recording. Joe Mantegna, Michael McKean, Ernie Hudson, Judd Nelson, David Arquette and Michael Richards play supporting roles.
Chazz, Rex and Pip are in a Los Angeles hard rock band called "The Lone Rangers" who are continuously turned down as they try to get their demo tape heard by producers. After scolding him for being lazy, Chazz's girlfriend Kayla kicks him out of her apartment. They decide to try to get the local rock station KPPX to play their reel-to-reel tape on the air and attempt to break-in through the back door. After several unsuccessful attempts, a station employee comes out to smoke and they keep the door from shutting behind her.
Once inside, laid back DJ Ian "The Shark" begins talking with them on the air. Station Manager Milo overhears them and intervenes but Ian continues broadcasting. After Milo insults Rex, by calling him "Hollywood Boulevard trash," he and Chazz pull out realistic-looking water pistols and demand airplay. After setting up an old reel-to-reel for the demo, the tape begins to play but is quickly destroyed when the player malfunctions. The guys try to run but Doug Beech, the station's accountant, had already called the police and they see the building is surrounded.
They negotiate with the police who are now tasked to find Kayla who has a cassette of the demo. Since the station never went off the air, news of the hostage crisis travels quickly and numerous hard rock/metal fans begin showing up outside the radio station interfering with police. A SWAT team has also arrived whose leader prefers using force over negotiation tactics. His team secretly passes a gun through a roof vent to Beech who has been hiding in the air ducts. During the crisis, it is revealed that Milo had secretly signed a deal to change KPPX's format to Adult Contemporary, which includes having to fire Ian and most of the other employees. When this comes out, Ian and a few employees side with the band and turn against Milo.
The police find Kayla who arrives at the radio station to deliver the tape. However, the tape is damaged because she threw it out of the car earlier. Chazz and Kayla get into an argument that quickly escalates and results in the studio console being destroyed, dashing any hopes to play the tape on the air.
As some of the items the band demanded from police are brought into the station, the door shuts on Rex's plastic gun revealing it to be fake. Seeing this, some of the hostages run out; one telling the SWAT team the band's guns are not real. As the team assembles to storm the station, Beech corners the band from a low hanging air vent. Ian, knowing he no longer will have a job at the station, knocks down Beech's gun. This causes the weapon to wildly fire several rounds and the police are forced to back off. Ian picks up the gun but gives it to a somewhat confused Chazz in a final act of anti-establishment rebellion.
Jimmie Wing, a self-serving record executive who had previously turned Chazz down, comes to the radio station and offers the band a contract. They reluctantly agree to the deal knowing they have no more options. Wing arranges an entire stage and sound system to be airlifted to the roof where the band will play their song for the now huge crowd outside. To the band's dismay, they find only the PA is real and everything else is just props. Refusing to lip sync as their tape is played, they instead destroy their instruments in protest to the delight of the crowd and stage dive into the hands of the cheering audience.
The Lone Rangers are next seen playing a gig inside the prison where they are incarcerated. The concert is being shown live on MTV. Ian, now their manager, says on the phone the band will start touring in six months, or "three months if they behave themselves." A final text crawl states that The Lone Rangers served three months for kidnapping, theft, and assault with hot pepper sauce, with their album LIVE IN PRISON going triple platinum.
- Brendan Fraser as Chazz Darby (né Chester Ogilvie), the lead guitarist and lead vocalist of the Lone Rangers
- Steve Buscemi as Rex, the bassist of the Lone Rangers
- Adam Sandler as Pip, the drummer of the Lone Rangers
- Joe Mantegna as Ian "The Shark"
- Michael McKean as Milo Jackson
- Chris Farley as Officer Wilson
- Ernie Hudson as Sgt. O'Malley
- Judd Nelson as Jimmie Wing
- Amy Locane as Kayla
- Nina Siemaszko as Suzzi
- Marshall Bell as Carl Mace
- Reg E. Cathey as Marcus
- David Arquette as Carter
- Michael Richards as Doug Beech
- Michelle Hurst as Yvonne
- Harold Ramis as Chris Moore
- Allen Covert as Officer Samuels
- Rob Zombie as Himself
- Kurt Loder as Himself
- Lemmy Kilmister as School Magazine Editor Rocker
- Rich Wilkes as Corduroy Pants Rocker
- John Melendez as Constant Masturbating Rocker
- Vinnie DeRamus as Dungeons & Dragons Rocker
- The band Galactic Cowboys perform in the film under the name "The Sons of Thunder".
- Mike Judge voices Beavis and Butt-Head, who call in to the radio station.
- White Zombie appear in the bar scene with Chris Farley searching for Amy Locane, playing the track they recorded for the film "Feed the Gods".
- Lemmy Kilmister makes a brief appearance in the crowd outside the radio station as the editor of his school magazine.
The film features an original song by White Zombie and went on to chart on the Billboard 200 and peak at Number 157. In addition, there are re-recordings of songs from Motorhead and Primus. Jay Yuenger and Sean Yseult also accompanied with Brendan Fraser's vocal rendition of "Degenerated", a song by hardcore punk band Reagan Youth. The song was produced by Yuenger and Bryan Carlstrom.
A number of songs heard in the film but not included on the soundtrack album. These are: "Baby Huey (Do You Wanna Dance)" by Dim Stars; "Shamrocks and Shenanigans (Boom Shalock Lock Boom) [Butch Vig Mix]" by House of Pain; "Unsatisfied" by The Replacements; "Rocks" by Primal Scream; "Janie's Got a Gun" by Aerosmith; "Wheezing" by David Byrne; "Don't Hate Me Because I'm Beautiful" by "Sons of Thunder" (Galactic Cowboys).
Release and reception
The film debuted in 10th place, grossing US$1.9 million in its opening weekend, ultimately grossing only half its budget.
Airheads earned negative reviews from most critics on its release, and currently has a score of 23% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 35 reviews from the likes of The New York Times, ReelViews, Time Out, The Washington Post, and Variety. The site's critical consensus states: "There's a biting satire that keeps threatening to burst out of the well-cast Airheads, but unfortunately, the end result lives down to its title in the most unfortunate ways."
- 9th worst – Sean P. Means, The Salt Lake Tribune
- Top 18 worst (alphabetically listed, not ranked) – Michael Mills, The Palm Beach Post
- Dishonorable mention – Dan Craft, The Pantagraph
|Airheads (Original Soundtrack)|
|Soundtrack album by |
|Released||July 19, 1994|
|Genre||Rock, heavy metal, punk rock|
|Label||Fox Records/Arista Records|
|Singles from Airheads (Original Soundtrack)|
|1.||"Born to Raise Hell"||Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister||Motörhead with Ice-T and Whitfield Crane||4:57|
|2.||"I'm The One"||Eddie Van Halen, Alex Van Halen, Michael Anthony, David Lee Roth||4 Non Blondes||3:58|
|3.||"Feed the Gods"||White Zombie||White Zombie||4:05|
|4.||"No Way Out"||Jesse Malin, Richard Bacchus, Howard Kusten||DGeneration||4:26|
|6.||"London (The Smiths cover)"||Morrissey, Johnny Marr||Anthrax||2:54|
|7.||"Can't Give In"||Candlebox||Candlebox||3:15|
|8.||"Curious George Blues"||Scott Hackwith||Dig||4:03|
|10.||"Degenerated"||Paul Bakija, Dave Rubenstein||The Lone Rangers||3:53|
|11.||"Bohemian Rhapsody"||Freddie Mercury||Queen||5:55|
|12.||"I'll Talk My Way Out Of It"||John Melendez, J. Cantor||Stuttering John (John Melendez)||3:40|
|14.||"We Want the Airwaves"||Joey Ramone, Johnny Ramone, Dee Dee Ramone||Ramones||3:21|
In 2002, the film was shown on Estonian TV, with the word "retards" being subtitled as "tiblad", a word with an entirely different meaning. Eneken Laanes, the translator of the subtitles, apologised for the translation error, stating that she was unaware of what "tiblad" meant.
- "Airheads (1994)". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on 26 December 2009. Retrieved November 23, 2009.
- Lehmann, Michael (1994-08-05), Airheads, Brendan Fraser, Steve Buscemi, Adam Sandler, retrieved 2018-05-24
- "CANNIBAL CORPSE Almost Turned Down Working with Jim Carrey on Ace Ventura". Metal Injection. February 11, 2015.
- "How accurately have radio stations been portrayed in TV and movies? Alan Cross rates them". Global News. May 31, 2020.
- "Airheads - Original Soundtrack". AllMusic.
- "White Zombie's Sean Yseult: The JG2Land Interview". JG2LAND. March 8, 2013. Retrieved 2013-05-21.
- Airheads at Discogs
- "Airheads (1994) - Soundtracks". IMDb. Retrieved 24 November 2015.
- Fox, David J. (1994-08-08). "A 'Clear' Triumph at Box Office : Movies: The Harrison Ford thriller seizes the No. 1 spot with estimated ticket receipts of more than $20 million". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-01-06.
- "Airheads". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved June 3, 2020.
- Travers, Peter (February 6, 2001). "Airheads". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 3 June 2020.
- P. Means, Sean (January 1, 1995). "'Pulp and Circumstance' After the Rise of Quentin Tarantino, Hollywood Would Never Be the Same". The Salt Lake Tribune (Final ed.). p. E1.
- Mills, Michael (December 30, 1994). "It's a Fact: 'Pulp Fiction' Year's Best". The Palm Beach Post (Final ed.). p. 7.
- Craft, Dan (December 30, 1994). "Success, Failure and a Lot of In-between; Movies '94". The Pantagraph. p. B1.
- Airheads at AllMusic
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