Two of the better teen actors of my generation, Christian Slater, Samantha Mathis.
Starring in one of the better high school movies, Pump Up the Volume.
Which featured a great bluesy/angsty power balled, “Why Can’t I Fall In Love?” in a brave and tender scene.
Performed by Ivan Neville, son of Aaron Neville and nephew to the rest of the famous Neville Brothers.
And yet Ivan’s career seems to have stalled after just four albums. I’ve never heard the song anywhere since (other than as one of my über-select five-star songs). Pump Up the Volume still hasn’t gotten a proper Blu-Ray release and isn’t available on the iTunes Store. And neither Mathis nor Slater seemed able to make the career choices which would have allowed them to fulfill their post-teen potential*.
What a dang shame, all of it.
The movie aged well. The pirate radio plot has been dated by technology, but the dialog is sharp and sometimes shockingly (pre-Kevin Smith) filthy. The high school kids are all hormones and raw nerves, just like I remember being. And believe it or not, not all the grownups are bad guys.
Also on the plus side, the song’s placement features into one of those rare tasteful-and-totally-necessary-to-plot nude scenes. It’s a heart-achingly honest minute or two of teen wonder and still-mostly-innocent sexual tension. Not many high school flicks ever pulled that off, and far fewer even bother to try.
But mostly Ivan Neville just recorded a great tune, so turn this one up.
And do me a favor and help me bug New Line Cinema into letting Criterion do a Blu-Ray remaster?
*Slater couldn’t seem to leave behind his Young Jack Nicholson pantomime, and spent years in Direct-to-Video penance for that sin. “Pump Up the Volume” showed he was capable of so much more. Mathis has found a lot of work in TV, mostly in supporting roles. As a younger woman, to me at least, she had “Movie Star!” written all over her.