Airheads [Retro Review]

“Well, there’s three of you. You’re not exactly lone. Shouldn’t you be the Three Rangers?”

The Scoop: 1994 PG-13, directed by Michael Lehmann and starring Brendan Frasier, Steve Buscemi and Adam Sandler

Tagline: The amps are on, but nobody’s home.

Summary Capsule: A trio of no-name rockers take a radio station hostage to get their demo tape played on the air. Surprisingly, they aren’t shot with extreme prejudice by the FBI.

Justin’s Rating: Turn up the radio for that sweet sound.

Justin’s Review: Viewing Airheads is like watching a high school reunion of fairly well-known comedy actors, rockers and professional cameo artists. “Holy crap, it’s… Two Ghostbusters – Ernie Hudson and Harold Ramis! The future cast of Happy Madison productions — Adam Sandler and Allen Covert (“Ten Second Tom” among other bit parts)! George of the Jungle! Steve Buscemi and Joe Mantegna with the “You Know, Those Guys” arena! Bender and Tommy Boy compete for air time against UHF’s George! Rockers Michael McKean (Spinal Tap), Rob Zombie and Lemmy (Motorhead) are covered by Kurt Loder! Even freakin’ Beavis and Butthead make an audio cameo (thanks Mike Judge)!”

It’s a pretty odd movie, as you might’ve guessed. You’re a sharp cookie.

Airheads has never been what I’d call a “classic” or even “indigestion”, but there’s something that sparkles around this flick that calls to me like a wild moose, demanding that I return to the fertile lands of my foremoosefathers to pay sacred homage. Rock ‘n roll is a dangerous lure, my people.

The sun rises on a struggling trio of rockers — Chazz (Brendan Fraser), Rex (Buscemi) and Pip (Sandler) — who try to fight the good fight of musicians who want to get noticed, except that popularity and intelligence aren’t on their side. In their quest to be heard, they break into a heavy rock radio station that’s on the verge of transforming into “easy listening”, and end up holding the staff hostage (with toy pistols) when things don’t quite go their way. Many police-people arrive, along with throngs of well-wishers, and the situation escalates into unrestrained hilarity. Also, Adam Sandler has sex. I thought you should be warned.

As with rock ‘n roll in general, Airheads proudly waves the flag of anti-establishmentarianism (yay! Long word!), which is to say that some people are cool (tattooed headbangers and “real” bands) and some people are The Man (record label producers, station managers and cops). Am I old, however, to wonder if rock ‘n roll can patrol my streets to keep me safe at night and put food on the table for my imaginary children? I think there’s a good reason that hippies failed, and that reason is you can’t eat guitars. Also, STDs killed a lot of them.

Airheads presents light, enjoyable fare that nourishes nothing past the desire to see a few goofballs thrash around and bring peace ‘n love to the world with high decibel screams. I can get behind this. Thank you, Airheads, for showing us the true path to enlightenment.

You know you just want to braid that luxurious hair. It's okay. I won't stop you.


  • Lemmy (front man for the band Motorhead) is the “Newspaper Editor” in the parking lot. He’s credited as Lemmy Von Motorhead.
  • The Lone Rangers’ hit single “Degenerated” is actually a song by 80’s punk-turned-metal group ‘Reagan Youth’
  • During the intro sequence, a picture of Lemmy can be seen hanging on a wall in the Palatine Records building.
  • The KPPX building used in the film is also featured in the movie Die Hard. You can see it in the plaza across from the Nakatomi building at the beginning of the movie. Both buildings are in both films.
  • When Chaz tells Yvonne to get her stuff and go, he says, “You’ll be home in time for The Simpsons.” Joe Mantegna (Ian) has a recurring character on The Simpsons.
  • Beavis and Butthead (voice of Mike Judge) call into the hijacked radio station.
  • In much of the movie Rex is wearing a Road Kill Cafe t-shirt
  • The band Galactic Cowboys perform in the movie under the name Sons of Thunder.

Groovy Quotes:

Ian: The Lone Rangers? That’s original. How can you pluralize “The Lone Ranger”?

Rex: Yeah, check it out. We ask for airplay and whatever else we want, then we demand a whole bunch of weird stuff. This way we can plead insanity later.
Chazz: Where’d this come from?
Rex: Pip’s idea.
Chazz: Way to go, Pip.

Milo: You’re gonna scream “Rock and Roll”? You’re gonna go to jail for that?
Ian: There’s a saying Milo: If it’s too loud, you’re too old.

Chazz: We got to send one person out.
Pip: I’ll go.
Rex: One of the hostages, doof.

Ian: Okay, who are you guys?
Pip: My name’s Pip.
Ian: The band. The band name.
Pip: Sorry about that.
Ian: He doesn’t wear a helmet, does he?

Ian: Well, there’s three of you. You’re not exactly lone. Shouldn’t you be the Three Rangers?

Chazz: Okay, lemme ask you a question: who’s side did you take in the big David Lee Roth-Van Halen split?
Chris Moore: What?
Marcus: What kind of question is that?
Chazz: Who’s side did you take: Halen or Roth?
Chris Moore: …Van Halen
Ian: HE’S A COP!

If You Liked This Movie, Try These:

  • Billy Madison
  • Tommy Boy
  • Can’t Hardly Wait


  1. This film holds a special place in my heart, not because of the main actors or the plot (although it’s certainly a funny film).

    As an early teenager, I was obsessed with Chris Farley’s comedy and was crushed by his tragic death. I took it upon myself to watch everything he ever did. Even his “missteps” like Beverly Hills Ninja were watched repeatedly until memorized. I thought I had seen everything he did, even bit parts in Billy Madison and (ugh) Dirty Work, until…

    Two years later I’m half-heartedly watching this movie on TV when… boom! Tommy Boy himself! Admittedly, he doesn’t really do much in this movie, but the thrill of seeing him in a role I’d never seen before when I thought I had seen it all was completely worth it.

  2. Pingback: The Best Rock ‘n’ Roll Movies | World (and Lunar) Domination

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