Film Talk: Looking Back – Slacking off with Mallrats

Jeremy London, Ethan Suplee and Jason Lee in 1995's Mallrats
Jeremy London, Ethan Suplee and Jason Lee in 1995’s Mallrats

Written and directed by cult hit-maker Kevin Smith, 1995’s Mallrats is a titan of a buddy comedy flick starring Jason Lee, Jeremy London, Shannen Doherty, and Claire Forlani.

Also along for the ride are Ben Affleck, Jason Mewes, Joey Lauren Adams, and Michael Rooker, and of course Kevin Smith himself is in front of the camera as well as behind it.

Mallrats is the second film in Smith’s View Askewniverse series, following 1994’s Clerks and preceding 1997’s Chasing Amy.

As in the other Askewniverse movies, the comic relief characters of Jay and Silent Bob feature prominently, and characters and events to appear and occur in the other flicks are deliciously referenced.

Casually cerebral and brimming with pop culture-fuelled sarcasm and debate, Mallrats is Kevin Smith to the core, and a white collar couch potato of a movie that I will love until the end of my days…

Comic geek Brodie (Jason Lee) and his best friend, TS (London), are shoved on the shelf when one fateful day leads to them both being dumped by their respective lady friends, Rene (Doherty) and Brandi (Forlani).

To deal with their loss, the pair do what many young Americans do best – they head to the local mall for a day’s casual browsing, moping and killing of time.

During their day of mutual consolation, they meet up with various friends and compadres, including Willam (Ethan Suplee) – a chap whose frustration at Magic Eye pictures knows no bounds; Gwen (Adams), one of TS’s ex-girlfriends; and of course the dynamic duo of Jay (Mewes) and Silent Bob (Smith).

Eventually, the moping pair decide to try and win back their significant others. This however may not be as easy as it seems, as to do so, each of the boys must deal with his respective nemesis; for TS – Brandi’s father (Rooker), and for Brodie – the dashing clerk from clothing store Fashionable Male (Affleck).

Will our two slacker heroes succeed? Maybe with a little help from their friends…

There’s no way of skirting around it – Mallrats failed at the box office and received something of a tepid reception from critics.

Despite this (nay, probably largely because of it) it has become a fully-fledged cult classic adored by its sect of supporters.

A wonderful insight into its creator’s mind, Mallrats features a cast that riff with each other brilliantly and bathe in hilarious dialogue throughout.

Jason Lee is unquestionably the star of the show, but, give him his due, Jeremy London holds his own admirably.

Brodie’s eventual meeting with Stan Lee channels exactly the sort of dribbling fanboy reaction any self-respecting comic-book enthusiast would perpetuate if they had ever been lucky enough to meet the great man.

To this day, this scene still brings a tear of both joy and sorrow to my eye (rest in peace, True Believer).

All in all, though not the apex of Kevin Smith’s movie pantheon, Mallrats is a comfort blanket of a flick that never fails to keep you warm, and is always there when you need it most.

Shropshire Star