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  Mallrats Let's Go Shopping
Year: 1995
Director: Kevin Smith
Stars: Shannen Doherty, Jeremy London, Jason Lee, Claire Forlani, Ben Affleck, Joey Lauren Adams, Renée Humphrey, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Ethan Suplee, Stan Lee, Priscilla Barnes, Michael Rooker, Sven-Ole Thorsen, Brian O'Halloran
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Best friends TS (Jeremy London) and Brodie (Jason Lee) have both been dumped on the same morning, and neither are happy about it. TS was seeing Brandi (Claire Forlani), but after he accidentally caused a friend of hers to take so much exercise she died, Brandi tells him her father (Michael Rooker) has to feature her as a replacement contestant on his cheesy TV dating show, meaning she will not be able to accompany TS to Florida for the holiday of a lifetime. Brodie meanwhile was seeing Rene (Shannen Doherty) who has left him for being too immature, but will either of them be able to win them back?

Writer and director Kevin Smith was latterly seen as a divisive figure, with an army of fans yet seemingly just as many detractors who could not stand his sense of humour or wealth of references he crowbarred into every movie, but this was by no means a recent development, as the haters started hating with avengeance around about the time Mallrats came out. Or rather, when Mallrats was a flop, with grumblings that Smith had sold out by making his next film after cult indie Clerks with a major studio which had ordered him to tone down the ribaldry that had made that first effort so distinctive. He moved on to different projects, and as he did this apparently unloved work found its audience.

True that was mainly among people who were fans of Smith in the first place, but for some of those Mallrats was their favourite of his comedies, and so it has gone onto a fairly respectable reputation. It was accurate to observe there were a good few laughs here, although nineties nostalgia was undoubtedly a part of what made audiences warm to the film, but also accurate that the film had its problems, and much of that was down to how charming it thought it was. Its naughty schoolboy attitude, or naughty overgrown schoolboy attitude to be more exact, was the source of amusement to an extent, but at times it was as if Smith was not quite aware of how abrasive some of this was coming across.

Specifically the Brodie character, who was in most scenes and as played by Jason Lee was not half as engaging as he should have been. You could see what the director was aiming for, a more general audiences relationship that had been at the heart of Clerks, but Brodie too often looked to be a raging asshole rather than a master of the flip quips. Whether it was Lee's misreading of the role or a fault in Smith's direction was hard to say, but once Brodie started opening his mouth you yearned for someone else to interrupt him - it was telling that he was only able to claw back some sympathy because his rival in love was an even bigger jerk, played with no humour at all by Ben Affleck.

Outside of those two, this was rather more likeable, the females in the cast tending towards longsuffering in light of the behaviour they had to put up with from the childish men in their lives. Almost stealing the show were two characters held over from Clerks, Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Smith himself, saying little as usual), whose ludicrous antics were so daft that when combined with Mewes' very specific dialogue they were genuinely funny. A starrier wattage of celebrity saw more famous faces here though, Rooker going all out for macho nastiness as the inevitably foiled dad/producer, Doherty doing her best to leave her teen soap queen persona behind (and not really succeeding, one assumes), with TV comedy star Priscilla Barnes sporting a third nipple as a psychic and comics legend Stan Lee as himself, both dispensing wise words to guide our heroes. As ever with Smith, self-indulgence was never far away which was why he generated such ire, but Mallrats does look better with the passage of time. Music by Ira Newborn.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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Kevin Smith  (1970 - )

American writer-director, by turns self-indulgent and hilarious. His first film Clerks brought him cult success, but he followed it with the big studio flop Mallrats. Chasing Amy was a return to form, and Dogma courted religious controversy. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back was a tribute to the double act who appeared in every one of his films up until then (Silent Bob was played by Smith himself). Jersey Girl was a conventional romantic comedy that disappointed most of his fans.

Smith is also a writer of comic books, both established characters (Daredevil, Green Arrow) and his own creations. An attempt to turn Clerks into a cartoon series was a failure - but it was damn funny all the same. Fans of the characters could console themselves with the sequel Clerks II. He then offered sex comedy Zack and Miri Make a Porno to mixed reviews, and Cop Out to downright terrible ones which led him to much public complaining. Self-proclaimed horror movie Red State, however, won him some of the best reactions of his career, though audiences were fewer in number.

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