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Airheads (1994) – DVD Review

Airheads DVD cover art


Written by: Rich Wilkes
Directed by: Michael Lehmann
Starring: Brendan Fraser, Steve Buscemi, Adam Sandler, Michael McKean, Judd Nelson, and Joe Mantegna


  • Two music videos
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Mockumentary promotional featurette
  • Subtitles in English or Spanish
  • French surround sound
  • English 4.0 surround or English Dolby surround

Released by: Fox
Region: 1
Rating: PG-13
Anamorphic: Widescreen 1.85:1

My Advice: Rent it.

For those of you who haven’t seen Airheads, it’s basically Spinal Tap lite. Buscemi, Fraser, and Sandler play the idiotic members of a rock group known as the Lone Rangers who are having trouble getting their demo played on the air or heard by record executives. In a desperate play for attention, they use plastic guns to take a local radio station hostage and end up creating a huge media event providing the kind of publicity you just can’t buy. Along the way, they discover the sinister intentions of the station manager (McKean) and help the deejay (Mantegna) stop a format change.

[ad#longpost]The fare is predictable and puerile in places, but funny nonetheless. For anyone who grew up in the 80s, you’ll recognize your schoolmates (and maybe yourself) in the hard-rockin’ band members and their leather-clad girlfriends and groupies. In places, Airheads even succeeds at its stated loftier purpose: satirizing the bloated tick that is the modern American music industry.

The acting is as funny as you would expect from Sandler and Buscemi (the latter getting some lovely biting lines), both delivering even a few ridiculous lines in a way that brings a laugh and not eye-rolling. Nelson is hysterical as the smarmy, opportunistic record executive, and McKean’s cold-hearted station manager is appropriately dislikable and nasty without losing sight of the comedy. Part of the actors’ believability is no doubt attributable to the rather frighteningly accurate choices made by the costume designers.

The DVD features are a bit disappointing. The featurette is amusing enough, but nothing terribly special. The music videos are only interesting if you happen to be a fan of one of the artists – Motorhead, Ice-T, Whitfield Crane, or White Zombie. As always, it would have been nice to have a commentary track with one of the actors or the director; a movie like this must have several anecdotes fans would love to hear, especially with Buscemi hanging around. A commentary track would have given the writer or director a way to highlight the disestablishmentarian message of the film, while also giving fans of the movie more to giggle about.

Steve Buscemi from Airheads

The case is typically sturdy plastic with a cover depicting the stars on the front and a few stills from the movie on the back.

In short, the film is an amusing way to spend the afternoon, even if it won’t stimulate a new understanding of cinematic artistry. Given the recent bitterness toward many performers and record execs surrounding the Napster controversy, Airheads is, in a sense, ahead of its time – funny and satiric without being bitter or driven. Rent it and giggle, then feel superiour to the idiots in the record industry who actually think that way. Not bad for a comedy.

Judd Nelson and Michael McKean from Airheads

Steve Buscemi, Adam Sandler and Brendan Fraser--The Lone Rangers--from Airheads

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