as: Joe Reaves
Way back in Nineteen-Hundred and Ninety-Five, a little flick called Empire Records was released to almost zero fanfare and minimal box office receipts. The coming-of-age comedy, set in and around an independent record store in Delaware, went over like a lead balloon in theaters. It wasn’t long, however, before it found success on home video and grew into a minor cult classic.
In reading the recently-compiled oral history of the film, it becomes apparent that Empire Records was severely mishandled by the studio behind it, which severely hampered the film’s chances for success . If there was somehow a mulligan on the making of Empire Records, we have one suggestion that would have all but guaranteed blockbuster status: put Tom Wopat in it.
Why Not Wopat?
In Empire Records, Joe Reaves is the titular record store’s manager, and a reluctant but loveable father figure for the younger members of the staff, who are mostly in their late teens or early twenties. Joe’s a gruff but genuinely cooler older dude, sporting a motorcycle jacket and an earring that, somehow, does not look ridiculous on a guy in his early forties.
Joe is portrayed by Anthony LaPaglia, and while LaPaglia does a great job, Wopat would have been even better. Little to nothing about the film would actually have to be changed with Wopat in the role, so this will be a fairly easy Wopatization to write up, although likely boring to read. (Sorry.) The two actors are roughly the same age, and actually look quite a bit alike. Not even the cinematography would have to be altered.
The big Joe Wopat scene we present here is the only one from Empire Records that conceivably would need changing. Midway through the film, Joe, fed up with the day’s unfortunate shenanigans, stalks through the store and back to his office. There, to blow off some steam, he sits down at a drum kit and pounds the skins along with AC/DC’s “If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It)”.
Tom Wopat is a musician, but his axe of choice is the ol’ six string. Ergo, Joe’s stress relieving jam session would see him shredding on the guitar, matching Angus Young note for note. Maybe throw in a little bit of duck walk.