Here’s a film that fills my heart with joy and happiness. With an incredible soundtrack of ’70s hits, a light and fun story, and plenty of funny characters, FM should be on every music fans watch list. If WKRP In Cincinnati was a show you watched on television (I may be dating myself a bit here), you’ll probably enjoy this one.
FM is the story of QSKY, the number one radio station in Los Angeles. They got there by playing the music that everyone wants to hear and avoiding the giant corporate machine. That’s about to come to an end when a new sales manager is sent to the station to make a few advertising deals, the biggest one being with the Army. In an attempt to stop the station from becoming all commercials and no music, the staff rally their audience to try and show their bosses that money isn’t always the most important thing.
It’s easy to see how films transitioned from the ’70s into the ’80s. That spirit of fun, that seems to run through almost every ’80s film I watch, is alive and well in this 1978 film. I enjoy a mind bending film as much as the next person, but there seems to be a serious lack of movies that are just fun. Even comedies now have a tendency to feature some more intense moments in them. FM skips all of that. The biggest problem presented here is one of the DJs not getting the numbers that they used to. There’s no heartbreaking moment, no major fights followed by sappy music hoping to draw a few tears from the viewer. It’s just light, breezy fun.
The cast is great, and full of some amazing comedic talent including Martin Mull as Eric Swan, the studly DJ who is a hit with the ladies, and Eileen Brennan as Mother, the sultry voiced jockey who seems to attract all the weird guys. Station manager Jeff (Michael Brandon) is the man who holds it all together, making sure his jockeys have their ego stroked enough to keep them confident without creating monsters. Now, I’ve never really been a fan of listening to the radio for the exact reason that this film is talking about. The staff at the fictional QSKY prefer to just play the music and avoid commercial interruptions. That’s the reason that I wound up with satellite radio in my car, no commercials. Was radio really like this in the ’70s? Tons of music and very few commercials? If it was, what the hell happened? I feel like every big wig radio station owner should be forced to watch this in the hopes that they’d start playing more actual music instead of advertising.
Ignoring my strange problem with advertising, FM is an amazing film, not only for it’s funny story, but for the awesome music throughout. At one point, the staff at QSKY hijack a rival stations Linda Ronstadt concert, which means we’re treated to three great songs performed live. Jimmy Buffet also shows up to play a few tracks early in the film. Throw in some music from Steely Dan, Queen, Tom Petty, Bob Seger, Joe Walsh, and many more, and you’ve got a perfect flick. Of course, if music from the ’70s drives you crazy, you probably won’t be able to sit through this one. That makes me a little sad though because this is probably my favorite decade for music. We shouldn’t argue about music though, especially since this is a movie review.
What it all comes down to is the fact that this is a very fun film from a time when we weren’t always bombarded with advertising at every turn. Great music, great comedy, and a light story make FM a perfect end to a sunny day on the porch with friends and a few beers.
Under the patio umbrella – Will