Pump Up the Volume

Published August 30, 2022

Pump Up the Volume

Film info

  • Title Pump Up the Volume
  • Director Allan Moyle
  • Year 1990
  • Run time 1hr 45m
  • Genres Drama, Music
  • Tagline Talk hard!

Christian Slater stars in this teen drama as a longer student from the East who enrolls at a highly rated Southwest high school and secretly provokes a mini-rebellion in the student body via his pirate radio station. By day, Mark Hunter is a quiet, studious student at an ordinary suburban high school in Arizona. But at night, Mark creeps down into his basement, fires up his radio transmitter, and broadcasts to the community as Hard Harry, a sexually obsessed social commentator who passes along angry philosophy about the state of teenage life when not blasting punk rock or gangster rap.

Live blog

Time Comment
0:44 An opening monologue that is still incredibly relevant.
4:04 Love the dedication to have a pirate radio station.
8:25 Replies guaranteed! That’s a lofty claim for fan letters.
11:26 “That’s alright, I still love my work. AND I love power and money.”
17:29 He’s like Clark Kent with a double identity mostly driven by glasses.
25:12 “She’s probably a lot like me, a legend in her own mind.”
30:16 Love that she has a whiteboard of clues.
40:12 His name can’t be Shep Shepherd.
44:41 “Like everything else, you have to read the fine print.”
50:58 “Who cares if it’s real?” says the news anchor.
55:24 Bonus baby Seth Green.
58:24 Unthrilled. Love it.
1:06:41 “I don’t know what to say to him. Every time I give advice the fit hits the shan.”
1:17:40 She walks around and around people a lot, it makes me dizzy.
1:19:27 “You’re the voice you were waiting for.”
1:32:09 Loving the man trapped in his car, under ‘siege’.
1:33:40 “Quitting will not make you strong. Living will. So just hang in there.”


This movie gets off to such a slow start that it’s a good thing we have the twenty minute rule in place otherwise it probably would have been switched off quite quickly. Christian Slater is great and captivating considering he spends a lot of his time in a room by himself just talking at a microphone, but that couldn’t sustain a movie without a bit of story. Thankfully, once it got going, it picked up momentum well and I was engrossed by the end.

For a film that’s over thirty years old, it’s surprisingly relevant even now. The technology might be old, but the themes are absolutely there - raging against the machine, fighting for free speech - whether it’s via pirate radio or podcast, it’s the same effectively timeless idea.

Rating: 3 / 5

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