5 Movies That Evoke Nostalgia for Video and Record Stores

Andrew Buckle,

Inspired by the release of the first season of the new comedy series, Blockbuster, which will be available to stream on Netflix from November 3, we have put together a collection of movies that may evoke feelings of nostalgia for physical media. These movies are predominantly staged in a retail setting – or more specifically, a video rental store or record store – majestic places where one could once browse the selection, make new discoveries and walk out with a haul of new movies to watch or music to give a spin.

In Blockbuster a hardworking manager, Timmy (Randall Park, Fresh off the Boat), of the last Blockbuster fights to keep his video store open and his staff happy as he works through his own complicated feelings about the challenges to his business. Blockbuster explores who and what it takes for a small business to succeed, delving into the dynamics between the eclectic mix of employees and their chaotic personal lives.

In addition to Randall Park, Melissa Fumero (Brooklyn Nine-Nine), Madeleine Arthur (Colour out of Space), J.B. Smoove (Curb Your Enthusiasm) and Tyler Alvarez (American Vandal) feature amongst the cast.

Feeling nostalgic? Check out some of these charming comedies that capture the spirit and character of these relics of the past.


Be Kind Rewind (2008)

What’s it about: After Jerry (Jack Black) accidentally creates a magnetic field that erases all the footage on his local rental store’s videotapes, he hatches a daring scheme to help his friend, Mike (Mos Def), a clerk at the store, keep his job and save the store. The two friends set out to re-create some the most popular titles in the store’s inventory, including Robocop, Ghostbusters, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Men in Black.

Why it’s a worth a spot on your shelf: This visually inventive comedy from Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) is a delightful, uplifting (and ultimately tear-jerking) experience. Full of charming performances – Jack Black is always a treasure – and heartwarming community spirit, there is such an inspiring level of imagination and virtuosity involved in the amateur practicality. Movie buffs will get a bit more of a kick out of the makeshift recreations than most but this is well-suited for the whole family and one that we come back to again and again when we just want some good vibes.

Stream now on Stan.

High Fidelity (2000)

What’s it about: Rob Gordon (John Cusack) is the owner of a failing record store in Chicago, where he sells music the old-fashioned way – on vinyl. Rob’s encyclopedic knowledge of pop music is of no help to him on the relationship front as his long-time girlfriend, Laura (Iben Hjejle), has just walked out on him. As he examines his failures at romance and happiness, this reflection finally leads to him being dragged, kicking and screaming, into adulthood.

Why it is worth a spot on your shelf: This timeless rom-com is a faithful adaptation of Nick Hornby’s celebrated 1995 novel, despite the setting moved from London to Chicago. Cusack is at his charismatic peak here, narrating his story with easygoing charm in direct-to-camera monologues, while the supporting cast (there’s our friend Jack Black again) are all infectiously likeable. There’s something relatable for everyone in this movie too – accepting that we’re still clinging to the comforts of adolescence and finding yourself hung up on a passion and being unwilling (or unable) to allow yourself the space to be passionate about something else. While it’s a funny, feel-good movie we appreciate the surprising emotional depth.

Buy in the Movie Store.

Empire Records (1995)

What’s it about: This coming of age comedy details an exceptional 24-hours in the lives of a group of young misfits who work at a small, independent record shop. In their efforts to fight off a corporate giant, set to take over their store and convert it into a branch of a national chain, the group build a kinship in their efforts to help their manager collect enough money to buy the enterprise himself.

Why it deserves a spot on your shelf: While Empire Records was a box office flop at release it has generated some cult status over the years, largely through the fashionable young cast (including Liv Tyler, Renee Zellweger and Johnny Whitworth), who are uniquely amusing and aptly carry the quirky brand of humour, as well as the groovy soundtrack. Perfect Friday night chill-out entertainment and a film very much of its time.

Purchase on Prime Video.

Hearts Beat Loud (2018)

What’s it about: This modern feel-good comfort movie is a really charming study of a father-daughter relationship, inspired by their shared love for music. Frank (Nick Offerman) is a widowed former musician and record store owner who is lamenting the future of his business. His daughter Sam (Kiersey Clemons) is set to leave for college on the West Coast, but after a song they record together goes viral Frank’s musical appetite is revived and he tries to convince Sam to record more songs with him and ultimately save his store.

Why it deserves a spot on your shelf: This is a simple but endearing story – the bond between father and daughter and the (light) tension between seeking independence and pursuing a career of your own, and realising a new lease on a long-forgotten dream. Nick Offerman (Parks & Recreation) is a fascinating actor, and this is one of his most authentic performances. Kiersey Clemons has established herself as an up-and-comer to watch for, and the story is rounded out with an ace supporting cast including Toni Collette, Ted Danson and Blythe Danner. Also, Frank’s record store is a wonderland for music buffs.

Buy or rent in the Movie Store.

Watching the Detectives (2007)

What’s it about: In this romantic comedy video store owner Neil (Cillian Murphy), an incorrigible prankster and film noir buff, is told by his impatient girlfriend that he needs to stop spending so much time living through movies. Enter Violet (Lucy Liu), a modern-day femme fatale who leads the smitten Neil down a road of petty crime.

Why it deserves a spot on your shelf: Here’s a film that loves classic Hollywood and is full of unabashed references to older films. Cillian Murphy, in an against-type role as the lead of a rom com, is relatable (to some of us out there) as a film geek who has enveloped himself in his favourite fictional stories but is unable to find the same interest in the real world. Similarly to Rob Gordon he must grow up and discover that there’s more to his mundane life than his favourite movies and his journey there is a somewhat silly but touching blurring of reality and fiction.

Stream on Prime Video.

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