Although it may appear strangely synchronistic on the surface, college-buddies, T.S. and Brodie (Jeremy London and Jason Lee), get dumped by their respective girl-pals, Brandi and Rene (Claire Forlani and Shannen Doherty), on exactly the same day.
So what do they do about it? Huh? Play Sega? Moan for a while? Or go to the nearest shopping mall and hang out instead?
Sure, why not! Well, the mall is a very nice place to chew on cookies, shop till you drop, and bump into a number of old pals along the way. For example; there's slack-jawed simpleton, Willam (Ethan Suplee), who spends many a wasted hour looking at a picture he can never see. Then there's someone like sexually driven underage deviant, Tricia (Renée Humphrey), who has a very perverse literary agenda in mind. Also, there's a tasty bit of skirt like Gwen (Joey Lauren Adams), who's as promiscuous as she is adorable.
Oh! And of course. Let's not forget the banes of T.S. and Brodie's collective existence, huh? Shannon (Ben Affleck) and Svenning (Michael Rooker).
OK, I know what you are thinking to yourself. Who are Shannon and Svenning? And why do T.S. and Brodie hate them so much? Right? Now this is a very simple question to answer really.
is a bold braggart who wants to shag Brodie's ex-girlfriend, Rene, in a very
uncomfortable place. No. Not in a back of a Chevy. Somewhere more compact.
Whereas Svenning is the father of T.S.'s ex-girlfriend, Brandi, who has forced
her into doing something she really does not want to do. No. Not star on CSI: New
York. Appear on a live dating show staged in the
F*ck! Maybe dope-peddlers, Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith), can help T.S. and Broady out with this, huh? Thought that is most probably why what next transpires all fumbles into play when each of the guys get kicked out of shopping city! As a stink-palm can make you a cripple - the future is predicted by a third nipple - a dating show eventually goes to pot - and love can sometimes hit the right spot.
Now writer, director, and one of the stars of 'Mallrats', Kevin Smith, has had mixed feelings about this movie in the past. At first he disliked it because of its poor showing in the box-office. Then he became bemused by it because it gradually pent up steam as an underground grad-school-flick. And finally he came to appreciate it for exactly what it is -- a nice and silly slacker slice of cinema -- because that's precisely what it really is
And do you know what? On a conceptual level I understand perfectly well why Kevin had to go through all of these stages to realize this fact.
You see, initially I wasn't too keen on this comedy myself. I held it up and compared it to Kevin's other work, before defining it as a 'disposable' piece of tomfoolery. However, once I managed to just look at it for what it is, this 'bumbling rom-com' isn't really all that bad you know. Let me explain: (1) For me, the glue that holds this film together is none other than Jason Lee himself. I just thought that his performance stood out from amongst the crowd, because he has that comedic charm and grace that can make an unlikable character very likable indeed. (2) I am a comic book fan, so any movie with comic book references in it is just a blast in my book. I also liked the Stan Lee cameo too, even if Stan did act a bit stiff -- generally speaking. (3) Now while I am on the topic of stiff, Shannen Doherty, Jeremy London, and Claire Forlani -- ooops -- no, not my cup of tea at all I'm afraid to say. OK, so they all may look good on the surface, granted. But I would have rather preferred someone like Joey Lauren Adams or Jason Mewes to play their parts instead. (4) One of the main pitfalls within this film is that you can tell where the story has been cut down in places [especially in the 'dating game scene'], plus how the plot has been over worked as a concept [particularly where the through-line is concerned]. In my opinion these two aspects have put a big dent in the underlining narrative, making the overall project appear 'jumpy' or 'overtly loose' here and there.
Hey! How would you like some filmic fact next? Huh? What do you mean 'No'? Get bent. Here are some anyway: (1) Originally the beginning of this film had a whole sequence that explained away why Svenning hated Brodie so much -- because Broadie accidentally messed up a function he was holding the previous day. Moreover, the final 'dating competition' had to be re-shot to accommodate for this alteration. (2) The casting for this project was a right pain the ass for the 'View Askew' crew. The studio wanted Seth Green to play 'Jay' instead of Jason Mewes. They also wanted Adam Sandler, Mike Myers, or Chris Farley, for the role of 'Brodie', and Ethan Hawke for 'T.S.'. William Atherton passed up the offer to play 'Jared Svenning'. Jennifer Love Hewitt, Alyssa Milano, Shawnee Smith, Heather Graham, and Reese Witherspoon, did not pass the audition stage for numerous reasons. Plus 'Blues Brothers' director, John Landis, was going to make a cameo appearance as an angry customer, but was written out at the very last minute. (3) The poster 'Silent Bob' goes through during the 'Batman scene' was actually a picture of Jason Lee's then wife, Carmen Llywelyn. (4) This film was shot in the 'Eden Prairie Center', which at the time was a vacant lot of storefronts. (5) Shannen Doherty had it written into her contract that she could take home all of the clothes that she wore in this film. She made sure she changed for every scene she was in. (6) The character that actor, Brian O'Halloran, plays in this movie, 'Gill Hick', is supposed be related to 'Dante Hick', which is a character he also plays in 'Clerks 2' [click here for review]. (7) Out of all the films he has directed, this was the only one Kevin Smith did not edit himself. (8) The studio executives ordered Kevin to 'dilute' quite a bit of the language during production. (9) The comic book collection owned by T.S. was actually Kevin's own collection, one he bought back after he sold them off to finance his previous picture; 'Clerks' [click here for review].
Overall 'Mallrats' is a really nice film of the cartoon variety. It's raunchy in places. Silly in others. But by in large this is a must see movie if you are a fan of Kevin's other work, or maybe frat-house flicks of this genre. Think of it as 'National Lampoon's Animal House' with a slice of kiwi-fruit instead of a gallon of vodka. Agreed film druggies?
THE RATING: A