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July 18, 2016

Mallrats (1995)
Director: Kevin Smith
Actors: Jason Lee, Jeremy London, Claire Forlani

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Synopsis: Two young friends, Brodie (Jason Lee) and TS (Jeremy London), are dumped by their girlfriends. Over the course of a long afternoon in the local mall, they set about winning back their women…

Review: After an odd opening scene featuring some lame slapstick at the local college, Mallrats hits it stride to become a more than worthy successor to Kevin Smith’s excellent Clerks. Although there are plenty of similarities between the two films, there are one or two substantial differences that might dilute the experience of those recruited by the charms of Clerks. We don’t have the striking, immemorial black-and-white photography which did such a good job of crystallising the banality of the convenience store locale, and quite simply, the ‘hit’ ratio of gags and ingenious dialogue isn’t as high (also, is it just me, or do TS and Brodie here make for less amusing conduits than Dante and Randal in Clerks?)

Once the story gets into the mall though it chugs along nicely. Favouring a more crowd-pleasing, narrative-driven, screwball style, Smith manages to successfully subsume his ‘slackers’ feel into this more cartoony aesthetic. For one thing, Jay and Silent Bob are more prominent and have gone from being the anarchic chorus of Clerks to a wacky, comedy double-act. Jay’s amazing verbal artillery of Clerks is watered down though Silent Bob has a couple of funny subplots (one – where he thinks he can affect Jedi mind tricks, the other – where he always winds up crashing into the same girl trying on lingerie in various changing rooms).

The mall ode-cum-satire – much like with the convenience store of Clerks – is brilliantly done. Two sublime touches being Ben Affleck’s reptilian clothes store manager christening Brodie and TS as “mallrats” while hypocritically opining “I have no respect for people with no shopping agenda”, and Ethan Suplee’s neanderthal William being unable to see a sailboat in a ‘Magic Eye’ picture – it’s a wonderfully surreal subplot honouring what was so good about the best bits from Clerks. (July 2016)

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