Mallrats (1995)

mallrats

IMDb

Ben
This was the first Kevin Smith film I saw and how I was introduced to someone I always think I could be best friends with if he actually existed, Brodie Bruce (Jason Lee). This film about a bunch of slackers is not a smart film, but still strikes a chord with me as all of the characters are instantly relatable as someone I have known in the past, even the two lovable stoners Jay and Silent Bob.

The film follows Brodie and his best friend T.S. (Jeremy London). T.S. and his girlfriend Brandi (Claire Forlani) have broken up earlier in the day and to cheer his best pal up, Brodie decides the best cure for his friend is a trip to the local mall. While there, they meet an assortment of characters also out for an awesome shopping experience. Brodie had recently also been dumped by his main squeeze Rene (Shannon Doherty) and is outraged to learn she has shacked up with his arch enemy, the salesman at Fashionable Male, Shannon (Ben Affleck). He sets out for revenge while T.S. discovers that Brandi is set to be auctioned off on her father’s (Michael Rooker) dating game show being filmed in the mall that afternoon. T.S. and Brodie set out to stop the game show from happening and potentially win their girls back in the process.

I love this film. When it was first released, it was panned by critics and made no money at the box office, but has gone on to become a huge cult hit. I know this was definitely a favourite of mine and several of my friends in high school. I loved it because Brodie Bruce was me, a teenage slacker who loved comics. That pretty much described my childhood. Although I wasn’t as up front about my love for comics as I can be now because they were considered geeky back in the mid-90s. Seeing a movie that had someone who was just like me was quite a thrill and helped me realise that not everyone would think my interests were dorky, I just had to find the right circle to hang with. I am quite pleased that comic books have become more mainstream lately thanks to The Avengers films and Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies. There is a little part of me that is pretty happy about the fact that I knew about these stories and characters before the rest of the world caught on. Some comic book nerds are hating the fact they are becoming more mainstream, but I love it. I love that something I have enjoyed for years is now being seen by the masses because it means I get to enjoy more movies based on the stories I grew up loving. I hope there is some younger version of me in high school right now who is no longer afraid to let the world know that he loves these stories and the characters that inhabit them. I wish I got to live in that world growing up.

Anyway, we were talking about Mallrats. This is, in my opinion, Kevin Smith’s best film. It is funny and still contains the great dialogue I associate with all of his films. All of the characters in this film bring something to the movie, even the douchey fashionable male salesman. I love all of them and feel like I know them. After the amount of times I watched this film in high school, I might as well have. I have to mention Wilem (Ethan Suplee), an attendant at the mall who spends the whole movie trying to view one of those 3D eye drawings. I feel his pain so much as I was never able to see those pictures either and was displeased with anyone that could. Outside of Wilem, there are plenty of other great characters in this film, Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith) make their second Kevin Smith appearance and are just as amusing as they have ever been. Also, keep your eye out for a great cameo from the awesome Stan Lee, without whom many of the comic books I love would not exist.

Mallrats is still funny 20 years later and it is Kevin Smith’s best movie. If you like comic books and awesomely random dialogue, then you will have some fun watching this movie.

Rating: A-


Sally
So this is apparently getting a sequel. I don’t really understand why. Unless Mallrats 2 will involve a subplot discussing the decline of shopping malls in America, I just don’t get it.

Kevin Smith is totally smart like that, though. His work is getting more mature and sophisticated, as evidenced by Clerks 2 and Red State (the latter of which I do not even consider a Kevin Smith film). Then again, a Mallrats sequel could so easily be exactly like the Clerks sequel. Clerks 2 picks up with the lovable slacker leads still in the same state of extended adolescence– working at their low paying retail jobs and acting like fools when it comes to women. Mallrats follows two college aged guys who like to hang out at the mall and act like fools when it comes to women. I can think of nothing sadder than two 40-something males finding solace in a contemporary shopping mall. I mean, teenagers don’t even hang out there any more.

Mallrats itself is just OK, if that. It’s a very Smith-y movie, but far from his best. I found the entire film boring and unsophisticated. I guess I just expect more from Smith. My first exposure to his body of work was Dogma, which effortlessly blends comedy with biting religious commentary. I next saw Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, which left no impression on me so bad example, but Chasing Amy is incredibly smart and poignant. Mallrats is decidedly sophomoric. I guess everyone’s got to start somewhere, and it is interesting to see how far Smith’s work has come. But I’d rather watch any other Kevin Smith movie before watching this again, even Jersey Girl.

Rating: D

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