Airheads is a 1994 American comedy film written by Rich Wilkes, directed by Michael Lehmann,[2] and starring Brendan Fraser, Steve Buscemi, Adam Sandler, Chris Farley, Ernie Hudson, Michael McKean, Judd Nelson, Michael Richards, and Joe Mantegna. It tells the story of a band of loser musicians who stage a hijacking of a radio station in order to get airplay for their demo recording.

Airheads film poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMichael Lehmann
Written byRich Wilkes
Produced byMark Burg
Robert Simonds
CinematographyJohn Schwartzman
Edited byStephen Semel
Music byCarter Burwell
Island World
Robert Simonds Productions
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • August 5, 1994 (1994-08-05)
Running time
92 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$11.2 million
Box office$5.8 million (domestic)[1]


Chazz, Rex, and Pip are in a Los Angeles hard rock band called "The Lone Rangers" who are continuously turned down as they try to get their demo tape heard by producers. After scolding him for being lazy, Chazz's girlfriend Kayla kicks him out of her apartment. They decide to try to get the local rock station KPPX to play their reel-to-reel tape on the air and attempt to break-in through the back door. After several unsuccessful attempts, a station employee comes out to smoke and they keep the door from shutting behind her.

Once inside, laid back DJ Ian "The Shark" begins talking with them on the air. Station Manager Milo overhears them and intervenes but Ian continues broadcasting. After Milo insults Rex, by calling him "Hollywood Boulevard trash," he and Chazz pull out realistic-looking water pistols and demand airplay. After setting up an old reel-to-reel for the demo, the tape begins to play but is quickly destroyed when the player malfunctions. The guys try to run but Doug Beech, the station's accountant, had already called the police and they see the building is surrounded.

They negotiate with the police who are now tasked to find Kayla who has a cassette of the demo. Since the station never went off the air, news of the hostage crisis travels quickly and numerous hard rock/metal fans begin showing up outside the radio station interfering with police. A SWAT team has also arrived where Sergeant O'Malley prefers using force over negotiation tactics. His team secretly passes a gun through a roof vent to Beech who has been hiding in the air ducts. During the crisis, it is revealed that Milo had secretly signed a deal to change KPPX's format to Adult Contemporary, which includes having to fire Ian and most of the other employees. When this comes out, Ian and a few employees side with the band and turn against Milo.

The police find Kayla who arrives at the radio station to deliver the tape. However, the tape is damaged because she threw it out of the car earlier. Chazz and Kayla get into an argument that quickly escalates and results in the studio console being destroyed, dashing any hopes to play the tape on the air.

As some of the items the band demanded from police are brought into the station, the door shuts on Rex's plastic gun revealing it to be fake. Seeing this, some of the hostages run out; one telling the SWAT team the band's guns are not real. As the team assembles to storm the station, Beech corners the band from a low hanging air vent. Ian, knowing he no longer will have a job at the station, knocks down Beech's gun. This causes the weapon to wildly fire several rounds and the police are forced to back off. Ian picks up the gun but gives it to a somewhat confused Chazz in a final act of anti-establishment rebellion.

Jimmie Wing, a self-serving record executive who had previously turned Chazz down, comes to the radio station and offers the band a contract. They reluctantly agree to the deal knowing they have no more options. Wing arranges an entire stage and sound system to be airlifted to the roof where the band will play their song for the now huge crowd outside. To the band's dismay, they find only the PA is real and everything else is just props. Refusing to lip sync as their tape is played, they instead destroy their instruments in protest to the delight of the crowd and stage dive into the hands of the cheering audience.

The Lone Rangers are next seen playing a gig inside the prison where they are incarcerated. The concert is being shown live on MTV. Now their manager, Ian says on the phone the band will start touring in six months, or "three months if they behave themselves."

A postscript text crawl states that The Lone Rangers served three months for kidnapping, theft, and assault with hot pepper sauce with their album LIVE IN PRISON going triple platinum.


  • The band Galactic Cowboys perform in the film under the name "The Sons of Thunder".
  • Mike Judge voices Beavis and Butt-Head, who call in to the radio station.
  • White Zombie appear in the bar scene with Chris Farley searching for Amy Locane, playing the track they recorded for the film "Feed the Gods".
  • Lemmy Kilmister makes a brief appearance in the crowd outside the radio station as the editor of his school magazine.



Metallica, Cannibal Corpse and Testament were approached for the bar scene but declined to appear.[3][4]

Notable locationEdit

The KPPX radio station was located at the Fox Plaza in Los Angeles, which served as Nakatomi Plaza in the 1988 film Die Hard.[5][6][7]


The film features an original song by White Zombie and went on to chart on the Billboard 200 and peak at Number 157.[8] In addition, there are re-recordings of songs from Motorhead and Primus. Jay Yuenger and Sean Yseult also accompanied with Brendan Fraser's vocal rendition of "Degenerated", a song by hardcore punk band Reagan Youth.[9] The song was produced by Yuenger and Bryan Carlstrom.[10]

A number of songs heard in the film but not included on the soundtrack album. These are: "Baby Huey (Do You Wanna Dance)" by Dim Stars; "Shamrocks and Shenanigans (Boom Shalock Lock Boom) [Butch Vig Mix]" by House of Pain; "Unsatisfied" by The Replacements; "Rocks" by Primal Scream; "Janie's Got a Gun" by Aerosmith; "Wheezing" by David Byrne; "Don't Hate Me Because I'm Beautiful" by "Sons of Thunder" (Galactic Cowboys).[11]

Release and receptionEdit

Box officeEdit

The film debuted in 10th place, grossing US$1.9 million in its opening weekend,[12] ultimately grossing only half its budget.

Critical responseEdit


Airheads earned negative reviews from most critics on its release, and currently has a score of 25% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 36 reviews from the likes of The New York Times, ReelViews, Time Out, The Washington Post, and Variety. The site's critical consensus states: "There's a biting satire that keeps threatening to burst out of the well-cast Airheads, but unfortunately, the end result lives down to its title in the most unfortunate ways."[13]


Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film a rare positive review: "Fraser and Buscemi are deadpan delights. And Sandler, Opera Man on SNL, is a red-hot screen find."[14]

Year-end listsEdit


Airheads (Original Soundtrack)
Soundtrack album by
Various artists
ReleasedJuly 19, 1994
GenreRock, heavy metal, punk rock
LabelFox Records/Arista Records
ProducerLonn Friend
Singles from Airheads (Original Soundtrack)
  1. "Born to Raise Hell"
    Released: November 1994
Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic     [18]
No.TitleWriter(s)Performed byLength
1."Born to Raise Hell"Ian "Lemmy" KilmisterMotörhead with Ice-T and Whitfield Crane4:57
2."I'm The One"Eddie Van Halen, Alex Van Halen, Michael Anthony, David Lee Roth4 Non Blondes3:58
3."Feed the Gods"White ZombieWhite Zombie4:05
4."No Way Out"Jesse Malin, Richard Bacchus, Howard KustenDGeneration4:26
5."Bastardizing Jellikit"PrimusPrimus4:11
6."London (The Smiths cover)"Morrissey, Johnny MarrAnthrax2:54
7."Can't Give In"CandleboxCandlebox3:15
8."Curious George Blues"Scott HackwithDig4:03
10."Degenerated"Paul Bakija, Dave RubensteinThe Lone Rangers3:53
11."I'll Talk My Way Out Of It"John Melendez, J. CantorStuttering John (John Melendez)3:40
13."We Want the Airwaves"Joey Ramone, Johnny Ramone, Dee Dee RamoneRamones3:21
Total length:49:14


In 2002, the film was shown on Estonian TV, with the word "retards" being subtitled as "tiblad", a word with an entirely different meaning. Eneken Laanes, the translator of the subtitles, apologised for the translation error, stating that she was unaware of what "tiblad" meant.


  1. ^ "Airheads (1994)". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on 26 December 2009. Retrieved November 23, 2009.
  2. ^ Lehmann, Michael (1994-08-05), Airheads, Brendan Fraser, Steve Buscemi, Adam Sandler, retrieved 2018-05-24
  3. ^ "CANNIBAL CORPSE Almost Turned Down Working with Jim Carrey on Ace Ventura". Metal Injection. February 11, 2015.
  4. ^ "How accurately have radio stations been portrayed in TV and movies? Alan Cross rates them". Global News. May 31, 2020.
  5. ^ "Airheads". Retrieved 2021-04-08.
  6. ^ Airheads (1994) - IMDb, retrieved 2021-04-08
  7. ^ "I Went to Die Hard's Nakatomi Plaza and Not a Single Hostage Was Taken". io9. Retrieved 2021-04-08.
  8. ^ "Airheads - Original Soundtrack". AllMusic.
  9. ^ "White Zombie's Sean Yseult: The JG2Land Interview". JG2LAND. March 8, 2013. Retrieved 2013-05-21.
  10. ^ Airheads at Discogs
  11. ^ "Airheads (1994) - Soundtracks". IMDb. Retrieved 24 November 2015.
  12. ^ Fox, David J. (1994-08-08). "A 'Clear' Triumph at Box Office : Movies: The Harrison Ford thriller seizes the No. 1 spot with estimated ticket receipts of more than $20 million". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-01-06.
  13. ^ "Airheads". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved June 3, 2020.
  14. ^ Travers, Peter (February 6, 2001). "Airheads". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 3 June 2020.
  15. ^ P. Means, Sean (January 1, 1995). "'Pulp and Circumstance' After the Rise of Quentin Tarantino, Hollywood Would Never Be the Same". The Salt Lake Tribune (Final ed.). p. E1.
  16. ^ Mills, Michael (December 30, 1994). "It's a Fact: 'Pulp Fiction' Year's Best". The Palm Beach Post (Final ed.). p. 7.
  17. ^ Craft, Dan (December 30, 1994). "Success, Failure and a Lot of In-between; Movies '94". The Pantagraph. p. B1.
  18. ^ Airheads at AllMusic

External linksEdit