Movie and Film Reviews (MFR) Comedy Movie Review of ‘Mallrats’

Movie Review of ‘Mallrats’

Following Kevin Smith’s breakout film Clerks. in 1994, the filmmaker was free to do whatever he wanted on the studio’s dime. Smith’s next film became Mallrats, another uproarious showcase of his talent for witty dialogue and entertaining characters. Bringing back the roles of Jay (Mewes) and Silent Bob (Smith), the film is also a part of Smith’s interconnected “View Askewniverse” series of movies; it’s not exactly a sequel to Clerks., but it unfolds in the same cinematic universe. Although Mallrats bombed at the box office and received a lukewarm critical reception, the film was a success on home video, and has developed into somewhat of a cult classic. Ignore the bad reviews, as this is a devilishly enjoyable “beer and pizza” comedy.

After slackers T.S. (London) and Brodie (Lee) are dumped by their respective girlfriends, the pair retreat to their local shopping mall for a hangout. Upon arrival, they discover that a dating show is being filmed in the mall, overseen by Jared Svenning (Rooker), father of T.S.’s former girlfriend Brandi (Forlani). On top of this, T.S. and Brodie encounter a number of mall-dwellers, including Brodie’s ex-girlfriend Rene (Doherty), angry sales clerk Shannon (Affleck), underage sex documentarian Tricia (Humphrey), and the dynamic duo of Jay and Silent Bob, who aim to prevent the dating show from taking place.

Smith simply recycled the Clerks. formula for his sophomore effort, changing the central setting to a mall but otherwise retaining the trademark of quirky, offbeat protagonists who deal with personal issues and banter about pop-culture topics. With most of the action confined to the shopping mall, Mallrats amounts to an infectiously fun sequence of non-sequiturs and comedic vignettes sporting sight gags, practical jokes and one-liners. Admittedly, the pacing is not as strong as it was in Clerks. since the dialogue is not as consistently sharp, but the film nevertheless contains a healthy amount of sparkling, quotable dialogue. Mallrats also contains many film and comic book references that geeks will appreciate. The likes of BatmanApocalypse NowButch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Jaws are all referenced, and Stan Lee, the master of the comic book universe, even makes a cameo. Added to this, there are a few nice visual gags; the shops are given wonderful names like Rug Munchers, Buy Me Toys, Burning Flesh Tanning Salon and Popular Girl Fashions.

Working on a much more generous budget as opposed to the $27,000 he provided himself to make Clerks.Mallrats is a more professional-looking picture than its predecessor, even though Smith’s direction is somewhat on the drab side. There’s not a great deal of artistry to the photography, with Smith and director of photography David Klein simply pointing the camera at the actors, mostly filming in master shots and only getting limited coverage. As a result, this is not exactly a dynamic flick, and dead spots arise because of this. However, there are a number of excellent sequences, the most notable of which involve the hijinks of Jay and Silent Bob. Surprisingly, action scenes stems from the antics of these two bumbling fools as they try to stop the game show and evade police. It’s great stuff. On top of this, the film kicks off with a brilliant opening title sequence involving a killer joke and images of the cast in comic book form.

Mallrats stars an array of familiar faces, all of whom were in the early stages of their career at this point. In the cast there’s Jeremy London, Ethan Suplee, Jason Lee, Claire Forlani, Shannen Doherty, Joey Lauren Adams, Michael Rooker and even Ben Affleck. London is a nicely effective T.S., but the standout is Lee, who’s hilarious unhinged and adorably childish as Brodie. Lee steals the show with ease. It’s also interesting to see a young Affleck here in a performance that oozes douchebaggery. Meanwhile, Rooker plays a moustache-twirling villain type as Brandie’s father, but he does amusing things with the role.

Mallrats is one of Kevin Smith’s least-respected films, but this reviewer had a ball with it. And, let’s face it, it looks positively immaculate alongside the dreadful misfires of Cop Out and Red State. Although certainly no Oscar contender in any respect, Mallrats is a fun film with plenty of jokes and lots to enjoy.

7.6/10

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