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  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
    English, Swedish
  • Theatrical trailer


MGM/20th Century Fox . R4 . COLOR . 92 mins . M . PAL


Ah 1994 - the year of alternative breakout albums for the likes of Green Day, The Offspring, Hole and Veruca Salt. A year when the suicide of Kurt Cobain brought the name Nirvana to everyone’s lips. A year when, to the dismay of many, those ageing, boofy-haired rockers Aerosmith returned to reclaim the popular music charts...

It was also the year that Brendan Fraser, then known only for Encino Man, Steve Buscemi known only for Reservoir Dogs and Adam Sandler, known only for Saturday Night Live, appeared together in a little comedy about the musical dinosaurs of the day. That film was Airheads, and at the time it did little to set the world ablaze. But history and the increasing profiles of its three stars have been kind to it – very kind. Indeed, this perfect piece of retrospective casting has been good enough to sustain rental and television interest for at least a few more years to come, and more importantly to justify its release on DVD in this region – a high accolade indeed given the small number of titles that actually make it to our shelves.

Chaz (Fraser), lead singer and guitarist with hard rockin' band ‘The Lone Rangers’ (sic), just can’t seem to get a break. He’s tried everything to score a record contract, (including repeatedly sneaking his demo into the head offices of local record company Palatine Records), but no one's the least bit interested. Even his girlfriend Kayla (Amy Locane) is getting sick of him slobbing around the house.

When local rivals ‘The Sons of Thunder’ score a record contract through airplay on local hard-rockin' radio station KPPX, Chaz and his rhythm section – brothers Rex (Buscemi) and Pip (Sandler) - decide that more direct action is needed. Together they resolve to break into KPPX and hand their demo directly to the station’s ageing disc-jockey DJ-Ian.

"Marky Mark?!? Man, that guy sucks!"

But things do not go quite as smoothly as the boys had planned and soon Rex has pulled an Uzi water-pistol from his bag and the cops are outside wanting a list of demands. Before they know it, the situation has turned into one big media circus and it's their name that's now on everyone’s lips. The problem is, in all the fuss the dickheads have wrecked the only copy of their precious demo. Pity, because they could, at last, have been stars. Hijinx inevitably ensue...

Airheads is the kind of ultra-light comedy that isn’t too bad, but isn’t too good either. Writer Rich Wilkes (Billy Madison, Jerky Boys - The Movie) and director Michael Lehmann (Heathers, Hudson Hawk, The Truth About Cats and Dogs) don’t seem to know who their real target seems to be – moronic rockers, leather-clad rock-moles or greedy, controlling radio stations and record producers. The whole heavy metal scene is ripe for the spoofing, but while there are some good laughs on offer, they are sporadic. Maybe This is Spinal Tap said all there is to say?

One main problem does seem to be the writer and director’s willingness to be distracted by cameos, with Michael Richards (Seinfeld's Kramer) the late Chris Farley, Lemmy from Motorhead, and the voice of Mike Judge (Beavis and Butthead) all making appearances. Without providing subplots of any merit, these distractions serve only to water down the film’s main premise and illustrate its lack of depth.

At the end of the day, you will likely love or loathe Airheads. If you’re a head-banger yourself, or if you’ve hung out with them, or if you’ve sat on the bus and laughed at them, you’ll no doubt find some great laughs here. However, if you've had nothing to do with metal fans or the hard rock scene, then you may well be bored feckless.


Airheads is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, (sourced from a theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1) with an anamorphic transfer on a single-sided, single-layered disc. When presented with a single-sided disc, I tend to expect the worst in terms of image quality (not always with good reason), but Fox has really done the business on this release. The image is crystal clear, and the transfer provides full, vivid colours and plenty of detail. Flesh tones are natural, black level is perfect, and the several night club scenes highlight the great shadow detail. There are no film artefacts or MPEG artefacts to be seen.

There are a couple of slight negatives. A little aliasing and moirè crops up here and there due to the sharpness. In addition, there's a little grain inherent in the source material in one or two places. But these are very minor issues that will not spoil your enjoyment of the film, and the transfer is more than adequate given the source material and genre. All in all a good job from Fox.


The audio produced for comedy films of this ilk runs notoriously hot and cold. Some films contain dialogue and the odd sound effect mixed into an undifferentiated wall of sound. Others shine unexpectedly in the full glory of all 5.1 channels. Airheads provides a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack that is somewhere between the two.

In general, the front channels dominate the soundstage, concentrating on dialogue (from the centre) which thankfully is clear and distinct, and a rock soundtrack that features the likes of of The Ramones, Motorhead, Primus, 4 Non Blondes, White Zombie and a sacrilegious version of The Smiths' classic London by Anthrax. The soundtrack pumps from the sides and whilst separation is not obvious, you soon realise that the surrounds are used subtly to fill out the sound, widening the sound stage considerably and placing the viewer more in the thick of things. The same is true with the effects – the surrounds utilised mainly to fill rather than taking advantage of full channel separation and directionality. However, there are one or two instances of good channel separation, in particular when bullets begin to fly. These however are in the minority and in general the effect is an immersive, if not impressive, sound stage that is typical of the genre. Surprisingly, the subwoofer gets a constant workout throughout the film, adding body to the hard rock score and coming to life with odd crashes, bangs and explosions punctuating proceedings.


Sporting anamorphic yet static menus, this is a pretty bare-bones release from Fox, providing us with a single theatrical Trailer for our troubles. The trailer is interesting because it is presented at Airheads' original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1, glaringly highlighting the shortcomings in the film's transfer. The quality of the trailer transfer is OK (as trailers go), but who the hell is really interested?


Although hilariously funny in parts, Airheads is not a film for everyone. Those familiar with the subculture will definitely find something to like, whereas others may not be so lucky. Whilst providing a reasonable audio and video transfer, this release from Fox is barest-of-bones, and therefore I would suggest that unless you're already a fan, it may well be worth renting before you buy this one.

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      And I quote...
    "Those familiar with the subculture will find a laugh or two. Others may not be so lucky..."
    - Gavin Turner
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Toshiba SD-2108
    • TV:
          Panasonic TC-68P90A TAU (80cm)
    • Receiver:
          Yamaha RX-V795
    • Amplifier:
          Yamaha RX-V795
    • Speakers:
          B&W 602
    • Centre Speaker:
          B&W CC6 S2
    • Surrounds:
          JM Lab Cobalt SR20
    • Subwoofer:
          B&W ASW-500
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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