Movie review of Kevin Smith's "Mallrats"
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Chocolate Covered Pretzel? Looking Back at “Mallrats”

A review of the second installment of Kevin Smith's New Jersey Trilogy, "Mallrats"

Chocolate Covered Pretzel? Looking Back at “Mallrats”

"Mallrats" is the second film by writer/director Kevin Smith, following his debut "Clerks." A chocolate covered pretzel is a joke with in the film, implying one's hand being covered with feces… and that's a fair way to describe this movie.

To be clear, this movie isn't horrendous, but when it is the second film in the trilogy, that starts with "Clerk's" and ends with "Chasing Amy," it really falls flat.

That's not to say that there are no redeeming qualities, but they're hard to notice as the film follows the wrong lead. The film's protagonist is T.S. Elliot with Brodie as the sidekick. That should have been reversed. Brodie has the better storyline and as an actor, Jason Lee carries the film. He's hilarious throughout and he shows real moments of insecurity, growth and harbors moments of sadness.

Brodie and T.S. Elliot

In those breaks from his comedic routine, he conjures a greater investment from us as a viewer, and as a result, the films actually lead falls in the background.

Like "Clerks" this is a buddy film, about two guys struggling in their current lots in life. Like Dante, their clueless on how to change their situation's. T.S. is the over-thinker serving as this film's Dante, and Brodie is the more collective funny type, akin to Randal.

The movie is rocky (mind you, I watched the extended version, which adds almost an additional hour to the lackluster film) but I personally like how the movie gets wrapped up in the end; a matchmaking show films from the town's local mall, where Brodie and T.S. prove their love to their recently ex-girlfriends.

The Matchmaking Show

But as mentioned, the road to that destination is rocky. The film is very gimmicky. Silent Bob seems like a cartoon character. Svenning, T.S.'s girlfriend's father, is incredibly over the top and over acts throughout the entire movie. He's an annoying and unconvincing antagonist/villain to the story.

Exclude his character, and already the movie feels better. The extended version also has an opening that was initially omitted from the film after testing negatively with audiences. And it's clear why. It's boring, and it's too long. It sets up T.S. and his girlfriend, Brandi, but they aren't very likeable. By the end of the scene, you're more bored about the last 30 minutes you watched rather than invested in these characters.

Get rid of it again, it doesn't help anything. Instead start the movie with who should've been the protagonist; Brodie. His opening scene in the extended cut, is his break up scene with his girlfriend, Rene. And it's much more impactful. By the time it ends, you're invested in these characters and you want to see how they get back together. And it totals at about 10 minutes, as opposed to the length of a normal first act.

Brodie's breakup

Tonally, the film is more closely related to "Clerks" than it is "Chasing Amy." I'm not suggesting it becomes more similar to "Chasing Amy" despite how infatuated I am with that film, but the gimmicks need to go.

Brodie's scenes supply the heart of the film, the stuff that Kevin Smith is so talented at exploring underneath layers of sarcasm. We don't get any of those moments from T.S. and his girlfriend Brandi. I don't care if she's a fine girl, the lead's should have been Brodie and his girlfriend, Rene. (I know it's Brandy and not Brandi in the song, but for the sake of the joke just go with it).

If the film followed this direction, it would have more closely picked up from the potential seen in Smith's debut film, and would have served as a better bridge between the first and third film within the New Jersey Trilogy.

Of the series of films, this one stands as the weakest. But is it terrible? No. It just isn't great.

Brodie and T.S.

"Clerks," despite if flaws, is great. "Chasing Amy" is great. "Dogma" is great, but contains flaws as well. "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" is more in line with this film, being more of a straight up buddy comedy, with most of the dramatic underlining's being dropped. But it's funnier, so it doesn't need those dramatic moments, as it's a stronger comedy.

"Mallrats," unfortunately drops the ball. However, it didn't fumble the ball, with the other team recovering and scoring a touchdown. Instead, it fumbled, once again got possession of the ball, but lost some yards in the process. This would have been funnier had I used a hockey metaphor, since Kevin Smith is a huge hockey fan and has hockey elements throughout these films… but I don't know anything about the sport, so I went with the trusty football metaphor.

There are still moments that make this film worth watching; like the immensely clever way Smith links the movies in this series together, with relatives of characters and various events being discussed and mentioned. I mean, the guy did create an expanded universe with this franchise. He has the six films, (apparently "Tusk" is included in this, but I don't want to include it, so for argument's sake, I'm not), comic books, an animated series… and it's all interconnected. He started this franchise back in 1994, well before any of this was common place.

I think if the film was redone with the suggestions I made, it would be more in line with its bookends in the New Jersey Trilogy. Then, maybe "Mallrats" would be more like the gem it deserves to be, and less of a chocolate covered pretzel.

But it does have the best Stan Lee cameo ever...

Brodie and Stan Lee

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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