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Growing Up in the Movies

Posted September 10, 2010 to photo album "Growing Up in the Movies"

To coincide with the release of It’s Kind of a Funny Story, Nick Dawson looks at more movies in which teenage protagonists are thrust into the world of grown-ups.

Slide 1: Introduction
Slide 2: The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Slide 3: Life Begins for Andy Hardy (1941)
Slide 4: Los Olvidados (1950)
Slide 5: The 400 Blows (1959)
Slide 6: Harold and Maude (1971)
Slide 7: Stand by Me (1986)
Slide 8: Pump Up the Volume (1990)
Slide 9: Rushmore (1998)
Slide 10: Almost Famous (2001)
Slide 11: Rodger Dodger (2002)
Slide 8: Pump Up the Volume (1990)

Slide 8: Pump Up the Volume (1990)

As a lonely, shy high school kid in a new town, what’s the best way to deal with your isolation and all-consuming angst? Well, if you’re Christian Slater in Pump Up the Volume, you start a pirate radio show and give voice to your frustrations of your generation through a profane alter ego by the name of Hard Harry. Having played a devilish high school murderer the year before in Heathers, Slater showed his range in Allan Moyle’s movie playing introverted, nerdy Mark Hunter, whose radio persona allows him to vent nightly: “Consider the life of a teenager - you have parents, teachers telling you what to do, you have movies, magazines and TV telling you what to do, but you know what you have to do. Your job, your purpose is to get accepted, get a cute girlfriend, think up something great to do with the rest of your life. What if you're confused and can't imagine a career? What if you're funny looking and can't get a girlfriend? You see, no-one wants to hear it. But the terrible secret is that being young is sometimes less fun than being dead.” Broadcasting first to no one in particular, Mark slowly gains a large audience of his peers, and learns – when one depressed boy commits suicide after hearing one of his disillusioned rants – that becoming a role model, a spokesperson, a figure of influence – gives him adult responsibilities which he has to understand and respect. In her review of the film in the Washington Post, Rita Kempley wrote, “Unlike Heathers, a satiric treatment of teen suicide, Pump Up the Volume is passionately caring. It's a howl from the heart, a relentlessly involving movie that gives a kid every reason to believe that he or she can come of age. It appreciates the pimples and pitfalls of this frightening passage, the transit commonly known as adolescence.”