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Film: Airheads
"..do you know what its like to be on the bill and play for 15 minutes, and have nobody there to see you except for the other bands and their girlfriends? Don't talk to me about rock and roll! I'm out there in the clubs and on the streets living it, I AM ROCK AND ROLL!"
Chazz Darby

A 1994 comedy film starring Brendan Fraser, Steve Buscemi and Adam Sandler as three band members hoping for a big break head to a radio station to play their demo tape and wind up holding everyone hostage with plastic guns when the head DJ refuses to play them.

While the film bombed at the box office and was received poorly by critics, a lot of people have seen it due to the fact that it was played heavily on Comedy Central during the mid-1990s. The film has since become something of a cult classic among metalheads due to its numerous references to hard rock and heavy metal as well as featuring cameos from a few famous rock musicians (most notably Lemmy).


Tropes featured:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: At the end of the film when the Lone Rangers finally get a record contract, Rex hugs Suzzi for a little too long. Naturally, she acts a little grossed out by it.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: One of the film's subplots is a Die Hard parody, so this is to be expected.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: At the end of the film we learn that "the Lone Rangers served 3 months for kidnapping, theft, and assault with hot pepper sauce."
  • Awesome McCoolname: Carl Mace, the SWAT commander, sounds like an action hero.
  • Beta Couple: Pip and Suzzi.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Wilson is a pretty calm guy, but there are limits.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Don't mention pool cleaning gear around the SWAT leader.
    • Don't rip off Officer Wilson's badge. You'll just give him ideas.
    • Rex being called "Hollywood Boulevard trash" by station manager Milo is what causes the situation to degenerate from mere trespassing to hostage taking. A little earlier in the film Rex had mentioned using the hot sauce-filled squirt guns against "Hollywood Boulevard trash", so he did not like being called it himself.
    • Milo freaks out when he walks in on Pip and Suzzi having sex on his expensive leather couch.
  • Brick Joke: see Non-Indicative Name.
  • Butt Monkey: Milo. Of course, he's such a jerkass that he deserves the humiliations he endures in the film.
  • Cameos:
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The giant baby bottle, asked of as part of the crazy demands, is used to subdue armed accountant Doug Beech.
    • Rex likes to fill his squirt guns with tabasco, in case some "Hollywood Boulevard trash" messes with him. This comes up later, when Chazz needs to season a burrito and Milo gets uppity.
    • During their ingress into the building, the guys take advantage of the fact that the steel exterior doors have automatic closers. This bites them in the ass when the front door later automatically closes on one of their fake guns with enough force to crush it.
  • Closet Geek: Chazz was a raging dork back in school. His public admission, followed by the crowd's acceptance, is a touching moment.
    Chazz: Kayla, there's something I gotta tell ya. I was a geek in high school. I had really short hair. I played Dungeons & Dragons, I had a bug collection, I ate my boogers. My name's not Chazz; it's Chester, and I understand if you don't love me anymore.
    Rocker 1: I played D&D too!
    Lemmy: I was editor of the school magazine!
    Rocker 2: I used to wear corduroy pants!
    John Melendez: I used to masturbate... constantly!
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Carter, the "surfer dude" as Rex calls him.
  • Comically Missing the Point: After the reel-to-reel tape of the Lone Rangers' demo is accidentally destroyed, Ian tries to talk Chazz into surrendering to the police by pointing out that the building is surrounded and the reason they broke in is no longer viable. But Chazz instead comes up with the idea of getting the cassette copy of the demo from Kayla.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Milo and Jimmy Wing.
  • Creator Worship: In-universe.
    Chazz: Who'd win in a wrestling match, Lemmy or God?
    Chris Moore: Lemmy.
    Rex: (makes a game-show "wrong" noise)
    Chris: God!
    Rex: Wrong, dickhead. Trick question—Lemmy is God.
  • Critical Dissonance: In-Universe, when Milo puts down Chazz' tastes in bands, asking "If they're so hot, how come they're not tearing up the charts, babe?", to which Rex replies "Because you never play them, babe. You suck.".
  • Dawson Casting: 36-year old Steve Buscemi as a twenty-something heavy metal bassist. Actually works, though, as he ends up looking more authentic than actual twenty-somethings Fraser and Sandler.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Many characters, particularly Ian and Rex.
  • Delivery Guy Infiltration: Chazz tries to sneak into Palatine Records this way in the beginning to try and show his demo tape to the executives. Judging by the reactions of the security guards and a secretary, this isn't the first time he's done this.
  • Die Hard on an X: It's Die Hard, in a radio station, as a comedy! Bonus points for the station being located next to Nakatomi Plaza.
  • The Ditz: None of the members of the Lone Rangers are especially bright, but Chazz and Rex are geniuses when compared to Pip. Suzzi is also rather ditzy.
  • Doing It for the Art: An in-universe example. Chazz explains to Ian that his goal in life is to make a song that people will remember. Chazz's passion for the music ends up helping Ian to remember why he fell in love with rock and roll in the first place.
    Chazz: I'm average and screwed up enough that I might just write a song that will live forever. And then it's all going to be worth it.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Kayla becomes physically violent towards Chazz a couple of times. If the roles were reversed it probably wouldn't be considered nearly as funny.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Kayla is seen doing this when Officer Wilson finds her.
  • Dumb Blonde: Suzzi.
  • Embarrassing Whole Name: Chester Ogilvie, alias "Chazz Darvey".
  • Eye Scream: Milo gets his eyes sprayed with hot pepper sauce when he tries to escape the radio station.
  • Face of the Band: In-universe. Chazz is this for the Lone Rangers.
  • Fanservice Extra: The Hawaiian Tropic bikini models appear in a couple of scenes.
  • Fascinating Eyebrow: Chazz delivers one as Jimmy Wing delivers a speech about how rock stars don't get full sentences, such as how "Vince Neil only got 30 days, and he killed somebody."
  • Fictional Counterpart: KPPX 103.3 Rebel Radio appears to be based on the now-defunct Los Angeles radio station KNAC 105.5, which had a hard rock/heavy metal format, and even used "if it's too loud, you're too old" (which is said by Ian at one point) as a slogan.
  • "Get Out of Jail Free" Card: Jimmy Wing promises Chazz that if he signs the record contract he's offered, Palatine Records' legal defense team will be able to stop the Lone Rangers from going to jail.
  • Genius Ditz: Though routinely slammed as a moron by his friends, Pip is the first person they turn to when they suddenly need an electrical engineer.
    • None of the members of the Lone Rangers are especially bright. But they do possess musical talent.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Kayla has one, although this mostly may be due to the fact that she's sick of Chazz always sponging off of her.
  • Hand or Object Underwear: Pip uses his cap when he and Suzzi are caught making out.
  • Heel-Face Turn: The aging DJ Ian, played by Joe Mantegna, is at first none too thrilled to being taken hostage. But as he talks with Chazz about rock music, it re-ignites his passion for rock music, he bonds with the band and starts to give them advice on how to proceed. By the time Ian finds out Milo is firing the staff and switching the station to Easy Listening, he's completely in the band's corner. And at the end of the film, it appears that he's no longer a radio DJ and is instead working as The Lone Rangers' manager/agent.
    "He wipes his ass with his record contract! I love this guy!"
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: Considering that a lot of characters in this film are members of the rocker and metalhead subcultures, a lot of them are decked out in black leather. Among major characters, Chazz and Kayla are both frequently seen wearing leather jackets.
  • Hostage Situation
    • Hilariously enough, though, they aren't using real guns until about ten minutes before the whole thing breaks down.
  • I Am the Noun: "Do you know what it's like to be on the bill and to play for 15 minutes and the only people there to see you are the other bands and their girlfriends? Don't talk to me about Rock 'n' Roll! I'm out there in the clubs and on the streets and I'm living it! I AM ROCK 'N' ROLL!"
  • Insanity Defense: Invoked by Pip, who suggests they come of a list of bizarre demands to help establish an insanity plea later. The list includes a football helmet full of cottage cheese, naked pictures of Bea Arthur (age unspecified), a sweet guitar and an oversized novelty baby bottle.
  • Ironic Echo: Early in the film, Chazz tries to pacify an angry Kayla by bringing up a song that he wrote for her, but it backfires when she points out that he wrote the song before they even met. Later in the film, Kayla tries to get Chazz to admit he loves her by bringing up the song that he allegedly wrote for her, but Chazz immediately points out that he wrote it before he met her.
  • Jerkass: Milo and Mace.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: The disagreements between Sgt. O'Malley and SWAT leader Carl Mace causes many problems, as Mace tries to undermine O'Malley's negotiations by trying to take down Chazz.
  • Knight Templar: SWAT team leader Carl Mace.
  • Metalhead: Too many to count in this movie.
  • Malcolm Xerox: Played straight with Marcus.
  • Making Love in All the Wrong Places: Pip and Suzzi have sex on the couch in Milo's office. Milo is not amused when he discovers it.
  • The Masochism Tango: Chazz and Kayla are constantly fighting, despite the fact that they love each other.
  • Mistaken for Badass: Due to a radio miscommunication, Mace believes that Doug Beech is a former Marine (actually, he was a Merchant Marine).
  • My Little Panzer: The toy guns are stated to have been recalled because they looked too realistic, and Rex managed to grab a couple before they got removed from his toy store.
  • My Nayme Is: Suzzi, with two Z's.
  • Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: The Lone Rangers describe their particular genre of rock as "power slop" (but with an edge).
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Happens twice. First, Rex's lit cigarette causes the reel-to-reel of the Lone Rangers' demo to catch on fire, forcing them to get the cassette from Kayla. And later in the film Kayla throws a chair at Chazz, but misses and ends up destroying the radio station's mixing board, preventing the Lone Rangers' demo from being played over the radio.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Mace's revealing Chazz's geeky past as an attempt to make people less supportive of Chazz ends up making them more supportive, revealing their own geeky pasts.
  • The Nineties
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Rex, the bass player for the Lone Rangers, is based on Rex Brown, the bass player for Pantera: They share a name, they play the same instrument, and they even have similar hairstyles and goatees.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Ian gives Milo one of these after finding out that he's going to be fired when Rebel Radio changes format to easy listening.
  • Non-Indicative Name: "The Lone Rangers", which gets lampshaded as they introduce themselves:
    Ian: So who are you guys?
    Pip: My name's Pip...
    Ian: The band. The band name.
    Pip: Sorry about that.
    Chazz: It's right there on the box. Read it.
    Ian: (looking at the demo tape's box) The Lone Rangers? That's original. How can you pluralize "The Lone Ranger"?
    Chazz: What's wrong with that?
    Ian: Well, there's three of you. You're not exactly lone. Shouldn't you be The Three Rangers?
  • Oh Crap: During a bit of showboating, Rex gets careless and the barrel of his plastic Uzi gets smashed in a door, in full view of the hostages. His face is priceless.
  • Old Shame: Chazz is forced by the SWAT leader to reveal to that he was a high school dork. Instead of losing the metal crowd that had gathered, however, his confession spurs people in the crowd to their embarrassing secrets of geekery. By the end, the crowd is even more supportive of the Lone Rangers' hostage-taking.
  • The Pornomancer: Pip. He wins over Suzzi without even trying, and it's implied (though never outright stated) that he was the pool guy who was screwing Mace's wife.
    Ian: How does he do that?
    Chazz: Pip? He gets his hands on more bumper than a body shop.
    Ian: With that "I'm so stupid I must be cute" routine?
    Chazz: That's the quiet cool. Chicks, man, they just flock on it.
  • Praising Shows You Don't Watch: Happens In-Universe, when Jimmy Wing is praising Chazz's song even though he hadn't listened to it. This is what drives Chazz to break out of their newly signed contract.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Sergeant O'Malley.
  • Reliably Unreliable Guns: A character drops an MP5K, causing it to spin around on the floor and fire its entire magazine, all by itself. The entire MP5 line is widely regarded as among the world's finest sub-machine guns, in use by numerous special forces, and they typically cost in the low five-digits.
  • Rock Trio: The Lone Rangers.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: The thug in the nightclub does this after Officer Wilson rips out his nipple ring.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: In spite of all the effort he went through to get a record contract, when Chazz learns that Jimmy Wing is signing them without hearing their music he promptly wipes his ass with the contract. Later, the entire band gets one after Wing talks Chazz into the contract when they learn that the contract is contingent on lip-syncing in public. They proceed to smash up the place and incite a riot.
  • Sexy Secretary: Implied to be Kayla's day job. Suzzi, however, is a clear example (when Milo reveals that Rebel Radio is changing formats and everybody who currently works there will lose their job, Suzzi mutters "All those blowjobs for nothing").
  • Shout-Out:
    • The ending where the Lone Rangers rock in jail is just like The Blues Brothers.
    • When addressing the crowd of rockers assembled outside of Rebel Radio, Chazz declares "They've got the guns, but we've got the numbers." This is a line from the song "Five to One" by The Doors.
    • Jimmy Wing works for Palatine Records. This is the same fictional record company that Christopher Walken's character worked for in Wayne's World 2.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Milo.
  • Small Town Boredom: Chazz is from an unnamed town in Iowa. He came to Los Angeles dreaming of finding success as a rock musician.
  • Speaking Like Totally Teen:
    Milo: All right, I know you guys think I'm a real dick . . . cheese . . . burger, or whatever.
  • Stockholm Syndrome: By the end of the film, nearly all of the hostages have sided with the Lone Rangers.
  • Suspect Is Hatless: Wilson, while looking for Kayla at a club.
    Wilson: (walking next to a line of blondes in tight black clothing waiting to get into a club) "Blonde wearing something tight and black". Great. Grand. Wonderful...
  • Starving Artist: The Lone Rangers. Pip works as a pool cleaner, Rex works in a toy store, and Chazz is unemployed and living off his girlfriend.
  • Take That: In one scene Chazz, who is a fan of hard rock and Heavy Metal music, chastises a caller by telling him "I can't believe you like that Seattle bullshit." Airheads was released during the peak of Grunge's popularity.
  • Technology Marches On: Chazz and his band might not have gotten in as much trouble if they had their demo on an iPod or available online. Also, if Kayla had a cell phone, Chazz might have gotten through to her sooner, and might not have needed the LAPD to scour the LA strip to find her.
    • The Lone Rangers could have promoted their music through social media websites, eliminating the need for them to sneak into a radio station.
    • The radio station would likely be going to an all-news format instead of easy listening (or closing completely) as in-car mp3 player options and satellite radio become ever more ubiquitous.
  • Too Much Information: When the rocker played by John Melendez admits that he used to masturbate constantly, his two friends look grossed out and begin punching him on the arms.
  • Took a Level in Badass: After a pep talk from Sgt. O'Malley, Wilson goes from meekly taking the verbal abuse of the gathered crowd to ripping the nipple ring off a thug who defaces his badge.
    Thug: (rips off Wilson's badge and crushes it) Now whaddya gonna do about that? (starts laughing)
    Wilson: (rips off the thug's nipple ring) Improvise.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: Or rather, the poster, which reveals that the guys get arrested and go to jail.
  • Trust Password: As part of a quiz to determine if a supposed record executive is legit, Chazz asks "Whose side did you take in the Van Halen/David Lee Roth split? Van Halen or Roth?", the right answer being Roth. After he incorrectly answers, Chazz gives him one more chance, asking "Who would win a wrestling match: Lemmy or God?", the right answer being "Trick question. Lemmy IS God.".
  • Unfortunate Implications: In-Universe, while playing at their live performance in prison, Rex thrusts his pelvis in the direction of some black prisoners until Pip points it out. Also a Brick Joke, from Pip's conversation with Yvonne about racism.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Tons, like "dicksmoke" and "butt puppet".
  • Unintentional Period Piece: This movie really captures the whole music scene of the 90s. This is especially notable when a reporter describes our main characters as having "MTV-soaked minds", referring to the time before MTV's Network Decay when it was still primarily focused on music.
    • In addition, we have see classic 90s toys like Stretch Armstrong, and someone prominently playing a Game Gear (with SFX from a real GG game, thus averting Pac Man Fever).
  • Urine Trouble: A dog pees on a cassette in one scene.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Yvonne wasn't there when it was revealed that everyone at the station was getting laid off, so how is she gonna take the news?
    • Doug Beech (who also played Kramer in Seinfeld is never seen or heard from again after attempting and failing to subdue the Lone Rangers with the submachinegun given to him by the LAPD .
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: A postscript at the end of the movie reveals that the Lone Rangers were only incarcerated for 3 months, and their album Live in Prison went triple platinum.
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the DesertFilms of the 1990sAftermath

alternative title(s): Airheads
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