Mallrats
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Mallrats

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This film is the second directorial effort by Kevin Smith. In it, he continues his 'Jersey Trilogy.  The characters are all interrelated to those in Clerks. The story is simple, a day in the life of a group of twenty something centered around one of the many malls of New Jersey. Once again Smith stacks the cast with friends which adds greatly to the feeling of a real set of friends. Added to this is a strong supporting cast including Shannen Doherty, Michael Rooker and Ben Affleck. ( Kevin Smith was the executive producer of Good Will Hunting and has known Affleck and Damon for years.) There is even a guest appearance by comic guru, Stan 'the Man' Lee, inventor of most of the Marvel Comic series. The story is a simple boy loses girl, boy gets into trouble and boy gets girl back. It starts when  Quint, Jeremy London, is about to take is girlfriend on a spring break trip. She can't go since Quint told a girlfriend of hers that she will look 10 pounds heavier on TV and she was supposed to appear of his girlfriend's fathers TV dating game. So the TV bound girl takes to the 'Y' and does 700 laps in the pool and dies of an embolism. This is the same girl referred to in Clerks where the guys crash a funeral. The other friend, Brodie (yes the names refer to Jaws, something done in every Smith movie) loses his girlfriend, Doherty. The two guys head off to lose their troubles by a visit to the local mall. There, they meet up with Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mews and Kevin Smith) and plot to disrupt the TV show. On they way they run into Tricia Jones, the younger sister to Heather Jones from Clerks and Allyssa Jones from Chasing Amy. Confusing? Yes but so is real life with all the interrelationships, friendships, romances and rivalries that all people, especially the young, endure. You really need to see all three movies to get everything out of the plots. Smith weaves a world within New Jersey and it's environs to tell tales of life, youth and love.

The cast here is composed of the usual gang used by Kevin Smith. While they generally do a good job in presenting a set of self indulgent twenty-somethings, overall they lack a chemistry that would let us believe that they are a group that has a lot of history together.

Smith makes a few mistakes here, typical of an independent director that suddenly finds himself with a real Hollywood budget. Gone is the simplistic format of Clerks, replaced by a slicker, albeit less artistic form the preceding film had. While Smith captures the fascination with malls that is part of New Jersey life he seems to try to cram too much into the story. While there is great continuity with Clerks, and Chasing Amy for that matter, the movie does not really stand on it's own. The motivation of the characters is not as complete as it should have been. The use of the set could have been a bit better. On the plus side the pacing is very good. There is a flow to the film that worked for me. Typical of the works of Smith the humor is often puerile but if you know anything about this director then you should have realized this going in. What fell apart in the long run is the lack of connection the cast had.

The direction is typical of Smith, top notch. The scenes are shot with artistic flair and really help to not only keep the action moving but you glued to the screen. This DVD is full of extras, better constructed than most of the DVDs out there. The animated menu is lively and well laid out. The commentary is on both audio and video and gives added insight to the production of the movie and advancement of the story of the trilogy. The sound is Dolby 5.1 and the letterbox is well worth it. So much happens off to the sides that the pan and scan version seen on cable is a loss. Not only should you get this one and Clerks but write to the studio to make sure Chasing Amy joins the DVD set soon.

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