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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 6/30/99

Collector's Edition - 1995 (1999) - Universal Studios/Gramercy Pictures (Universal)

review by Todd Doogan, special to The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Mallrats: Collector's Edition Film Ratings: B

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/A+/ A+

Specs and Features

96 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 1:18:07), Amaray keep case packaging, "making of" featurette, photo gallery, full-length commentary track (featuring director/writer Kevin Smith, stars Ben Affleck, Jason Lee, Jason Mewes, producer Scott Mosier and View Askew historian Vincent Pereira -- scenes from which can also be viewed through alternate angle access), deleted footage including script excerpts for unfilmed scenes, theatrical trailer, production notes, cast and crew bio information, video for The Goops' Build Me Up Buttercup, animated film-themed menu screens with music, scene access (18 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1) and French (DD 2.0), subtitles: English, Close Captioned

Mallrats is a very personal experience for anyone who sees it. Some hate it, some love it, and even more are indifferent. For me, Mallrats was simply a flick that showed me Kevin Smith wasn't a one-hit-wonder.

I saw Clerks originally at a film festival. I heard nothing about it, but after we all walked out of the theater, it was something no one in the theater would forget. It's funny how sometimes you hear a name associated with a film, and you just remember it. It's like it's destined for greatness. Kevin Smith is one of those names -- for Gen-Xers it's a household staple.

As a side note, Clerks cursed me in a way, because I favor the lead character a little bit. Actually, I look a lot like Dante and Kevin Smith's love child (as if that were possible). The funny thing is, if someone were to draw me, I'd look an awful like Jim Mahfood's rendition of Smith in the Clerks comic book series. I'm just taller, and not as heavy. Oh, and I don't have the mad skillz that master Kevin has. Either way, in the business I'm in, I get pegged as him a lot: "Aren't you the guy...?" No.

Anyway, I eagerly awaited Smith's next film. When I heard he was making a John Hughes/John Landis homage, I was a bit concerned, only because I truly dislike Landis as a filmmaker -- a dislike that started in the mid-80s. But that's a whole other Oprah. I had read things about Mallrats -- how it was about a failed assassination attempt, it took place in a mall, and it was filled with gross-out humor. I thought, "Well, if anyone can give it a voice -- Kevin Smith can." Then it came. It was the summer of 1995, and Kevin Smith fans, expecting a wondrous silver screen adventure, found something... well, a bit less than stellar. Four years later, it's time to look back, and see if Mallrats was really that bad... or if Mallrats WAS really THAT bad.

Mallrats is the simple and tender story of two ne'erdo well slackers, who try and get their girlfriends back after losing them both on the same day. Brodie and Quint (Jaws anyone?) are friends who have problem relationships. Brodie would rather stroke and caress his Sega game system, than his beautiful girlfriend Rene (played by Shannen Doherty). She gets fed up, leaves his lazy ass, and heads to the mall to shop. Quint plans on running away with his girl Brandi (played by Claire Forlani) to Universal Studios Florida, to get married in the Jaws attraction. His plans are smashed, when he accidentally causes a woman to die, and has to watch his girl take her place in her father's game show. Her father would rather see Quint dead than as a son-in-law, and before the day is out, he may just have his way.

It's fast paced, and filled with wonderful characters, and viciously funny lines. So, there are no problems there. Absolutely no problems there. Personally, I really like some of the characters in this film better than I like some of the other characters in the Smith Universe. Hell, without it, there probably wouldn't be a Chasing Amy or Dogma. I honestly enjoy Mallrats, very much. So what do I think IS the problem some people have with the film? I have two words that explain why some could easily not like the flick: Jeremy London. I think his acting is wretched, his delivery is awful, and the overall feeling the film gives, is that he is the main character. And he's horrid as the central character. Now, some would say, "But Todd, isn't that the fault of the director?" No. Look at every one else. Look at Jason Lee, who never acted before, and see how good he is in this film. Jeremy London was just plain bad, and the film fell a few steps down for it. Aside from "Him", it's easy to enjoy Mallrats. It's very funny, very witty, and I guess if you're set-up for London's horrible presence in the film, you can overlook it. Ben Affleck is super as men's store manager, Shannon the Buttman. Jeez, I even like Shannen Doherty in this. Kevin Smith did his absolute best under the pressures he faced, while trying to cook a pot with so many hands helping out.

If you want to know the full story on how Mallrats came to be, whose hands were helping to stir that pot, and what the film looked like at various points in its life, look no further than this disc. This is a really great DVD. It features a whole stack of outtakes, one of the funniest commentary tracks EVER recorded (it's even better than the Chasing Amy track on the Criterion laserdisc), and a healthy smathering of other treats. One of those tasties, is related to the aforementioned (and already stellar) commentary track. At various points in the track, you can access "live" footage of the guys talking -- it's pretty sweet, and a nice little extra. What I don't like about that, is that to let you know when you can see this alternate angle video, a very annoying logo pops up in the bottom right-hand corner. Don't be scared of it, if you jump right into the disc with the commentary track - rest well true believer, it's not on the film UNLESS you have the commentary track selected.

Aside from that one, itsy bitsy complaint, the extras are perfect. Smith and company (Ben Affleck (Shannon), Jason Lee (Brodie), Jason Mewes (Jay), the producer Scott Mosier, and View Askew historian Vincent Pereira) are so funny, that at points I seriously laughed out loud while listening to it. The deleted scenes consist mainly of a cut storyline showing the above referenced "failed assassination attempt", but loads of other things were cut as well -- something like an hour in all. You have to see it to completely understand it. And let me say it right now -- this is, without a doubt, the one absolutely must-own DVD, for fans of both Smith and special edition DVDs in general. There are so many fun bits on this disc, that you really just have no choice, but to run out and stand in line NOW, to wait for this bad little boy to hit store shelves (it streets July 20th). Aside from the live commentary footage extra (which is neat-o!), there is a video, featuring Jay and Silent Bob, for the song Build Me Up Buttercup by The Goops. You also get several production photos, cast and crew bios, the trailer, and a production featurette that's pretty damn good, and even reveals more information about the production, on top of the commentary track. So many special editions feature commentaries that duplicate the featurette - here the track is only enhanced.

The quality itself is also pretty stellar. The video is 16x9 enhanced (can I hear a collective "Hell, yeah!"?), and it's a pretty sweet transfer, anyway. The colors are nice, and there's virtually no digital crap anywhere in the picture. The only issues with the video are related to the print itself - some occasional visible film grain, and slight softness now and again, but these are VERY minor. The DD 5.1 sound is sweet -- nice and natural, and well rounded. You will hear much more background dialogue in this mix. All in all, this is an almost perfect DVD.

I think people have started to finally embrace Mallrats, and well they should. It's very funny, and a necessary addition for tourists in the View Askew Universe. If you haven't seen it, be ready for bad acting from London, but also be ready to see some really great acting as well, from Affleck, Lee and pretty much everyone else involved. I can't say enough about the DVD itself. I'm pretty stoked about it, and I believe every great film deserves this treatment. Oh... one last thing: there's a really great hidden Easter egg for you folks who enjoy looking for such treasures on DVD. Make the robot see (highlight his eyes), and you'll find yourself pretty much assaulted in Red Bank, New Jersey. Like I said before, go stand in line now. This one's a keeper.

Todd Doogan
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