Metascore
77

Generally favorable reviews - based on 16 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 16
  2. Negative: 1 out of 16
  1. This is an exhilarating picture, the kind that strips away smug complacencies and exposes raw nerves to a bright light. [14 Sep 1990, p.C4]
  2. A clarion call for freedom and collective action both hopeful and energizing, it qualifies as a generational statement as Rebel Without a Cause did in the 50s, but without the defeatism and masochism. Not to be missed.
  3. Reviewed by: Staff (Not Credited)
    91
    This movie doesn't end up taking on all the problems it offers up. Meting out justice to an evil school administrator seems to be enough for now. As an enlightened and energetic film - a voice for the '90s - it is enough. [12 Sep 1990, p.11]
  4. 90
    Unlike "Heathers," a satiric treatment of teen suicide, Pump Up the Volume is passionately caring. It's a howl from the heart, a relentlessly involving movie that gives a kid every reason to believe that he or she can come of age. It appreciates the pimples and pitfalls of this frightening passage, the transit commonly known as adolescence.
  5. 88
    It's a celebration of free expression that treats youth like a fierce and beautiful animal, and never attempts to tame it. In Pump Up the Volume, the "why-bother" generation finds a voice, and begins to bother. [22 Aug 1990, p.47]
  6. 88
    Pump Up the Volume, in addition to presenting an engaging story, has tapped into a universal truth about rebels with causes.
  7. Working within the confines of the teen-age genre film, Pump Up the Volume succeeds in sounding a surprising number of honest, heartfelt notes.
  8. Reviewed by: Staff (Not Credited)
    80
    Writer-director Allan Moyle's story about a shy high school student who galvanizes an Arizona suburb with a rebellious pirate radio show has rambunctious energy and defiant attitude.
  9. Reviewed by: Bruce Ingram
    75
    Though the film is fitted with a basic, teen-rebel plot, its true substance comes from Mark's commentary. His observations are generally interesting and witty, and they almost always have the ring of truth. [22 Aug 1990, p.37]
  10. 75
    Pump Up the Volume, an exceedingly well-written teenager-full-of-angst melodrama about a high school student who operates a pirate radio broadcast that criticizes parents and teachers while revealing the turmoil of adolescence.
  11. Reviewed by: Staff (Not Credited)
    63
    Roaring into the microphone with all the passion he can't put into his life, Slater gives this movie what it otherwise so desperately lacks: a reason for being.
  12. There's a real commitment to key moments; a sense of depth and understanding. It has labor of love written all over it. [22 Aug 1990, p.E1]
  13. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    63
    Heathers was such a black-comic revelation that Pump Up the Volume comes as a double surprise. What were the odds, particularly this early in his career, that Christian Slater would end up starring in two of the best high school movies ever? [22 Aug 1990, p.4D]
  14. Reviewed by: Lloyd Bradley
    60
    Surprising success with what could be a formulaic disgruntled teen movie. Fast paced with a satisfyingly unhappy ending.
  15. In the end, even in the howling high frequencies and the nihilistic night, this R-rated movie misses its best shot. It doesn't talk hard enough. [22 Aug 1990, p.5]
  16. Reviewed by: Staff (Not Credited)
    25
    Bad teen film unredeemed by aspirations toward significance.

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