In my post yesterday, I talked about meeting Michael Rooker in the Calgary airport and complimenting him on his performance in one of my favorite movies: Mallrats. It occurs to me, though, that many readers may not have seen this particular film, so guess what? It’s my Pick of the Week!
In 1994, director Kevin Smith released Clerks, a movie he famously made for about $20,000 by maxing out his credit cards. The black and white film followed a day in the life of two friends, Dante and Randall, who were clerks at a convenience store and video store respectively. Clerks received quite a bit of critical buzz (it has an 88% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes at the moment) and launched Smith’s career.
1995’s Mallrats was Smith’s much-anticipated and much-higher budget follow-up. The movie is about two friends, T.S. and Quint, who head to the mall for a bit of distraction after being dumped by their girlfriends. Okay. Let’s be honest here. It’s not the most original of plots. And those who felt that Smith would mature with his second film found instead that he went in the exact opposite direction, making a film that could best be described as a throwback to a 1970s or 80s teen sex comedy.
Critics were not kind. Well, some weren’t. I was the movie critic for my college newspaper at the time, and I gave it a positive review. I don’t believe I’m included in the Rotten Tomatoes aggregator, though, where Mallrats currently sits at 55%.
I don’t care, though. I liked the movie. I still like the movie. It’s silly and slapstick and incredibly crude in spots, but Jason Lee, in his first lead role, is incredibly fun and engaging to watch. Michael Rooker is great as the film’s antagonist, Mr. Svenning, and Jay & Silent Bob get a much expanded role compared to their presence in Clerks. Also, whether you love or loathe Ben Affleck, this movie has something for you. If you love him, you get to see one of his early roles. If you loathe him, he’s playing a not-so-great guy, and you get to see him receive his comeuppance.
Mallrats isn’t a classic. But it is an enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours. Also, it laid important groundwork for Smith’s next film, the excellent Chasing Amy.
- Alan Decker
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