Rated R, 97 min. Directed by Kevin Smith. Starring Shannen Doherty, Jeremy London, Jason Lee, Claire Forlani, Ben Affleck, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith.
Mallrats is the second film in relative newcomer Kevin Smith's proposed “New Jersey trilogy” that began last year with Clerks. Fans of Smith's first film will appreciate Mallrats for its combination of the same type of humor and many of the same actors from Smith's acclaimed debut. Mallrats tells the tale of heartsick companions T.S. (London, better-known as the eldest son on television's I'll Fly Away) and Brodie (newcomer Lee) who vow to win back their girlfriends in the course of one day, which for T.S. and Brodie is spent much like any other day at the Eden Prairie Mall. Despite the help of that most dynamic of duos, Jay (Mewes) and Silent Bob (Smith), T.S. and Brodie must battle great odds to convince their fed-up better halves that their own “retarded ways” are mere subterfuge for truly complex personalities. While Smith's testosterone-loaded humor is a taste I have yet to acquire, his choices of a comic book-inspired credit sequence, the guest appearance of Marvel Comics genius Stan Lee, and the film's overall superhero aesthetic perfectly capture the mall mise-en-scene. Other bits of inspired direction include casting Doherty as Brodie's girlfriend Rene, who's got as much chutzpah as her Sega Boy but perhaps more fashion sense and a finer-tuned libido. Look for self-conscious winks, such as Rene's transitional boyfriend named Shannon Hamilton (Doherty's name by marriage to her real-life but short-lived husband Ashley Hamilton). Another female with some smarts is T.S.'s refined girlfriend Brandi, played by British actress Forlani. Smith has commented that he made Mallrats in the spirit of comedies from the Seventies and early Eighties, such as Animal House and Caddyshack. While these earlier films certainly have their place in the pantheon of comedies, I wonder if this type of humor still “works” in the cinema of the 1990s? But that's probably a stupid question -- one I should ponder on the way to the mall.
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