Empire Records is one of those Patient Zero movies that a lot of people’s careers spun out of. Liv Tyler, Renee Zellweger, Rory Cochrane, Johnny Whitworth, Robin Tunney, Ethan Embry and Tobey Maguire’s elbow (His and at least one other role were completely cut) all wrapped around a story that’s one part screwball, one part Breakfast Club and one part hymn to indie record stores. I truly believe that if I die well, my personal Valhalla will look a lot like the York branch of Traveling Man around the time I managed it. I’d like to think it’ll be a little bit like the ridiculously huge, beautiful store in Empire Records too.
The movie’s a mess, up and down and left and right, but it’s a glorious mess. A good half dozen good performances, a couple of great ones (Why Cochrane isn’t a bigger star I’ll never know) and at the centre of it all, Anthony LaPaglia as Joe, the endlessly hard working, endlessly put upon, grumpily compassionate store manager. Joe is officially my homie and this scene, equal parts call to arms and tension breaker is all about him. It’s also your Sunday moment of Zen.