1990s Crime Comedy With Stacked Cast Still Holds Up, Stream On Disney+

By Robert Scucci | Published

  • Airheads stars Adam Sandler, Brendan Frasier, and Steve Buscemi.
  • The plot of Airheads is based on an urban legend.
  • A box office flop, Airheads is now a cult classic.
  • Airheads is now streaming on Disney+.

Have you ever heard of the Lone Rangers? If you’ve never tuned into KPPX or watched 1994’s Airheads, then they probably weren’t on your radar. But this fictional band is as legendary as their attempt to achieve mainstream success by holding an entire radio station hostage in what was an underappreciated comedy at the time but has since been celebrated as a cult classic among die-hard music movie nerds. 

Airheads Is A Satricial Take Down Of The Music Industry


To sum it up succinctly, Airheads is a comedic cross between This is Spinal Tap and Inside Man. Hostage situations are serious business, but this Brendan Fraser, Steve Buscemi, and Adam Sandler-starring crime comedy is anything but. In its vicious satirical take-down of the music industry, Airheads never fails to deliver the laughs, and even at the height of its conflict you can’t help but root for the bad guys because, at the end of the day, they didn’t mean to cause so much trouble. 

An Unbelivable Cast

Airheads follows the lives of the Lone Rangers, who probably didn’t pick the best band name because there are three of them (the Three Rangers would be a better name). Led by Chazz (Brendan Fraser), the Lone Rangers are desperately trying to get their song on the radio. In a misguided attempt to gain attention, Chazz, Rex (Steve Buscemi), and Pip (Adam Sandler) decide to infiltrate KPPX, the local radio station, and force Ian “The Shark” (Joe Mantegna) to play their song over his broadcast. 

Based On A Strange Urban Legend

What was originally intended to be an aggressive prank in Airheads ends up turning into a hostage situation because the Lone Rangers armed themselves with realistic-looking toy guns filled with hot sauce. Their stunt gains a considerable amount of media attention as they make a long list of ridiculous demands to stall the police, with the most important demand being that the masses hear their demo tape. When their reel-to-reel tape gets destroyed after the player malfunctions, Chazz has to find a way to get his ex-girlfriend, Kayla, to deliver their only remaining cassette to the radio station as their heist begins to fall apart. 

Meanwhile, a massive crowd materializes outside of KPPX along with a SWAT team, turning the entire ordeal into a media circus that gives the band national exposure before anybody ever hears their song. 

Chris Farley In A Supporting Role

Airheads is as ambitious as it is silly, and its all-star cast takes its premise to the next level. Not only do we find Michael Richards (Seinfeld) crawling through air ducts to find a telephone to communicate with the police, Chris Farley plays one of the police officers tasked with mitigating the hostage situation. The internal conflict between Ian and station manager Milo Jackson (Michael McKean), who secretly wants to convert KPPX into an easy-listening station, adds a whole other layer of comedy because it allows the hostages to be at odds with one another instead of trying to subdue their incompetent captors. 

Commercial Failure To Cult Hit

brendan fraser airheads

Though Airheads was a commercial failure that only grossed half of its reported budget of $11.2 million upon its release, it was always destined to be a cult classic. Since the movie itself is a stark criticism of how mainstream taste-makers operate on a national level, it’s only fitting that critics hated the film for being a little too on the nose, resulting in its 29 percent critical score on Rotten Tomatoes. But any struggling musician will tell you that Airheads represents a form of wish fulfillment because the Lone Rangers stop at nothing to make sure that their music finally garners the audience they think they deserve. 

If you want to stream Airheads, you can check it out on the Hulu section of Disney+, which is currently in beta. So make sure that you’re up to date on both your subscriptions if you want to bust out a blistering air-guitar solo to “Degenerated.”