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Allan Moyle
Christian Slater, Samantha Mathis, Ellen Greene
Writing Credits:
Allan Moyle

Mark runs a pirate radio station and causes an uproar when he speaks his mind and enthralls fellow teens.

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 102 min.
Price: $21.99
Release Date: 2/23/2021

• Trailer


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Pump Up the Volume [Blu-Ray] (1990)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 8, 2021)

Though far from his first movie, 1989’s Heathers acted as a breakout for Christian Slater, one that seemed primed to make him a new young star. Slater rode this to his first lead role via 1990’s Pump Up the Volume.

Teen Mark Hunter (Slater) becomes the new kid in town when his family moves to Arizona. A shy sort, Mark finds it difficult to make friends, so his parents give him a short wave radio to stay in touch with his old pals on the East Coast.

Mark uses this communication device for an alternate method, as he launches his own “pirate radio” station under the guise of “Hard Harry”. As his classmates grow to love “Harry”, controversies develop and Mark needs to deal with the ramifications of his actions.

As I mentioned earlier, Pump seemed intended to make then-21-year-old Slater the next big “teen rebel” star. Probably not conventional enough for standard pop idol status, Slater went for the “young Jack Nicholson”/”bad boy” vibe he brought to Heathers.

While Slater enjoyed moderate fame and a good career, he never quite achieved the stardom it appeared he might find, and I suspect Volume acted as one reason for that. While it got pretty good reviews, the film flopped at the box office, as its $11 million US gross left it in 92nd place for 1990, a pretty lousy showing.

Pump falls into that category of movies I think I saw it 30 years ago but can’t remember my reaction if I did. 23 and just out of college when the film hit, teenage angst was in my past, but not in my distant past.

As such, I wish I’d written a review in 1990 since I might have connected better with the material back then. That said, Pump offers such a melodramatic and cliché version of teenage problems that it seems unlikely I would’ve embraced it more then than I do now.

Boy, does Mark’s high school seem to be a mess! Perhaps as an overreaction to the many whitewashed portraits of teen life over the years, movies like Pump veered too far in the other direction.

This means efforts like Pump give us a view of high school that shows nothing but depression and anger. Does that building house a single happy kid?

Apparently not, as we find nothing more than one long roster of miserable students. Of course, the adults all fall along various strains of clueless to malicious – except for the one token “cool teacher”, of course.

Essentially Pump feels like a John Hughes vibe attached to Rebel Without A Cause, with a dash of Network on the side. We get no real creativity here, as the film comes across like a melange of influences without anything new to say.

We don’t get much in terms of character development. We find a bunch of unhappy teens without insight or growth, so the movie leaves the different roles one-dimensional and flat.

There’s nothing wrong with the basic premise of Pump, amply-explored it may be. However, the end result lacks intelligence and creativity, so it feels like little more than a trite stab at melodrama.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B-/ Bonus D-

Pump Up the Volume appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though not great, the image seemed more than satisfactory.

Sharpness was largely positive. A few interiors appeared a little on the soft side, but the majority of the movie came across with good accuracy and delineation.

I noticed no issues with jaggies or shimmering, and the image lacked edge haloes. With a fair amount of grain, I didn’t sense any intrusive digital noise reduction, and print flaws were absent.

Colors seemed fairly positive. Pump went with a red-influenced palette, but it opened up to other tones as well, and these seemed acceptably well-developed.

Blacks were fairly dark and tight, and shadows showed largely appropriate clarity, albeit a little on the dim side. I felt the transfer held up pretty well.

Given its focus on characters, the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack became adequate and not much more. The forward spectrum dominated and showed some decent stereo imaging.

The music spread cleanly across the front speakers, and I also heard occasional use of discrete effects. These panned relatively well across the channels, and the forward audio seemed cleanly integrated.

The surrounds bolstered the music and added some effects as well. Those brought modest reinforcement of environmental material, so they didn’t contribute a lot, but they gave us a bit of involvement.

Audio quality showed its age but seemed more than adequate. Though lines occasionally felt a little reedy, they always remained intelligible and they lacked prominent issues like edginess.

Music varied on the source – mainly due to different production styles for the songs – but these components mostly seemed lively and full.

Though effects played a modest role, they appeared accurate and without overt flaws. While not a memorable soundtrack, this became a perfectly acceptable mix for a 34-year-old comedy/drama.

The disc includes a trailer but it lacks any other extras.

As a look at teenaged lives, Christian Slater fared better in the sharp, satirical Heathers than in the tedious, overwrought Pump Up the Volume. Little more than predictable melodrama, Pump fails to deliver anything other than clichés. The Blu-ray brings generally good picture and audio but it lacks bonus features. You can find plenty of superior teen dramas than this one.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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