8 November 2008 | gavin6942
My Ultimate in Pubescent Guilty Pleasures
After being dumped by their girlfriends, T.S. Quint(Jeremy London) and Brodie Bruce (Jason Lee) go to the mall to keep their minds off the situation. Soon, however, thoughts turn to getting their ladies back and the dynamic duo will have to fight mall security, a fashionable male (Ben Affleck) and a game show producer (Michael Rooker) in order to succeed.
Writing a fair review of "Mallrats" is one of the hardest things for me to do, and it is no surprise that I have not done so in all the years I have been writing reviews. The film came out when I was fourteen, and I went to see it with my cousin at the local mall after a rousing bus trip. We had seen the ambiguous advertisements in the back of comic books for months and just knew this was something we had to see. Once in the theater, we were practically alone -- there were only three other people, including a younger woman and her grandmother, both of whom walked out early on.
For whatever reason, I identified with this film. I had not yet seen "Clerks" and I did not have the background in film to really understand all the references to "Jaws" or "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" or "Apocalypse Now". But the potty humor mixed with the intelligent dialogue (even about scatological topics) hit home with me, and even now -- seventeen years later -- it remains my favorite film, despite my knowing full well it is not critically wonderful and often sexually crude.
I have given the film a high rating because I simply cannot get enough of it. I have the trading cards that were sold at the time, I have visited the Eden Prairie Center where the movie was filmed (it is in Minnesota, not New jersey, strangely enough). But, I want to stress this: my high rating does not by any means indicate this is a critically beautiful film. Read the reviews of the professionals at the time (Ebert, Maltin, and others) and you will see that it was more or less expected to bomb (although I think in hindsight many more people found the film to their liking).
Are there flaws? You bet. Watch Jeremy London, for example. A horrible, horrible actor. Even with these odd, scripted conversations he comes off as forced, and if you watch him while another actor is speaking, you can see him physically preparing himself to speak his lines. He cannot become the character of T.S. Quint, he can only be Jeremy London. Shannon Doherty, likewise, just does not seem to hack it... she is a better actress than many, but this film just did not work for her. She comes off as a reject from "Empire Records", and some lines she delivers make it seem she is not familiar with the subject matter.
Despite the flaws, I am still praising this film. Watch "Clerks" first (even though this one takes place first in chronological order). If you like "Clerks", try this one. Then try "Chasing Amy". All three are great. Personally, I think Kevin Smith's films went downhill after that (although "Red State" is redeeming). He may disagree and I know many of the fans do. But if you do not mind intelligent potty humor, "Mallrats" is for you.