I was obsessed with this movie when I was in high school — it was part of my Christian Slater Period — and I have to wonder if it holds up at all. (FWIW, it had an amazing soundtrack, which I suspect does, if nothing else.) Allow me to allow Wikipedia (with edits by me for brevity) to summarize:
Mark Hunter, a high school student in a sleepy suburb of Phoenix, Arizona, starts an FM pirate radio station that broadcasts from the basement of his parents’ house. Mark is a loner, an outsider, whose only outlet for his teenage angst and aggression is his unauthorized radio station—where he declares, “Eat your cereal with a fork and do your homework in the dark.” His pirate station’s theme song is “Everybody Knows” by Leonard Cohen and there are glimpses of cassettes by such alternative musicians as The Jesus and Mary Chain, Camper Van Beethoven, Primal Scream, Soundgarden, Ice-T, Bad Brains, Concrete Blonde, Henry Rollins, and the Pixies. (I told you it had a good soundtrack – J) By day, Mark is seen as a loner, who has to make extreme effort to be sociable around others; by night, he expresses his outsider views about what is wrong with American society. When he speaks his mind about what is going on at his school and in the community, more and more of his fellow students tune in to hear his show.
Nobody knows the true identity of “Hard Harry” or “Happy Harry Hard-on,” as Mark refers to himself, until Nora Diniro, a fellow student, tracks him down and confronts him the day after a student named Malcolm commits suicide after Harry attempts to reason with him. The radio show becomes increasingly popular and influential after Harry confronts the suicide head-on, exhorting his listeners to do something about their problems instead of surrendering to them through suicide—at the crescendo of his yelled speech, an overachieving student named Paige Woodward (who has been a constant listener) jams her various medals and accolades into a microwave and turns it on. She then sits, watching the awards cook until the microwave explodes, injuring her. While this is happening, other students act out in cathartic release.
Eventually, the radio show causes so much trouble in the community that the FCC is called in to investigate. During the fracas, it is revealed that the school’s principal has been expelling “problem students,” namely, students with below-average standardized test scores, in an effort to boost the district’s test scores while still keeping their names on the rolls (a criminal offense) in order to retain government funding.
Realizing he has started something huge, Mark decides it is up to him to end it. He dismantles his radio station and attaches it to his mother’s old Jeep, creating a mobile transmitter so his position can’t be triangulated. Pursued by the police and the FCC, Nora drives the Jeep around while Mark broadcasts. The harmonizer he uses to disguise his voice breaks, and with no time left to fix it, Mark decides to broadcast his final message as himself. They finally drive up to the crowd of protesting students, and Mark tells them that the world belongs to them and that they should make their own future. The police step in and arrest Mark and Nora. As they are taken away, Mark reminds the students to “talk hard.” As the film ends, the voices of other students (and even one of the teachers) speak as intros for their own independent stations, which can be heard broadcasting across the country.
This sounds….kinda timely, actually. Wiki also tells me that they’re making a stage MUSICAL of the film right now but it’s on hold because of Covid. This pandemic has taken everything from me!!!!!
There is some good news, though. For some reason, Lou Diamond Phillips did not attend the premiere of Young Guns II, which he was in. BUT! He came to THIS premiere! I told you I’d never deny you LDP!