Site created 12/15/97.
review added: 2/16/01
1997 (2000) - View
review by Greg Suarez of
The Digital Bits
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras):
Specs and Features
113 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced,
single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 57:24, at the start
of chapter 15), Amaray keep case packaging, audio commentary track
(with writer/director Kevin Smith, producer Scott Mosier, stars Ben
Affleck and Jason Mewes, associate producer Robert Hawk, Miramax
executive Jon Gordon and View Askew historian Vincent Pereira),
video introduction by Kevin Smith, 10 deleted scenes, outtakes,
The Askewniverse Legend, color
bar test patterns, theatrical trailer, animated film-themed menu
screens with music, scene access (25 chapters), languages: English
(DD 5.1), subtitles: none, Closed Captioned
Amy, Kevin Smith's third installment in his "New
Jersey Trilogy" (also containing Clerks
and Mallrats), is proof
positive that with every film Smith makes, his movie-making
super-powers grow stronger and stronger. Loaded with unforgiving
(and unapologetic) hilarity, Chasing Amy
is also the most meaningful and sincere film of the trilogy. It's a
classic love story told with Generation-X attitude and
sensibilities, which is to say that this film is brutally honest and
doesn't sugar coat anything. And who better to tell a frank,
modern-day love story than Kevin Smith, the ultimate Gen-X
Holden (Ben Affleck) and Banky (Jason Lee) are two successful
Jersey comic book creators on the verge of a major breakthrough in
their careers. They are also best friends, with a solid 20-year
relationship. At a local comic book convention, Holden meets Alyssa
(Joey Lauren Adams), a fellow comic book artist and all-around swell
gal. Alyssa's charm and charisma immediately draws Holden to her,
and he finds himself falling in love
hard. There's just one
teensy weensy problem - Alyssa is a lesbian. Despite this revelation
(that jars Holden's emotions), he and Alyssa become very close
friends. But when the relationship takes an unexpected move forward,
Banky becomes distraught. He's very protective of his dear friend
and believes that Alyssa has a hidden agenda that will leave Holden
worse for the wear. And, as we find out later in an unwarranted
twist, Banky's also a bit sexually conflicted. As it's story draws
to a close, Chasing Amy
becomes a conflict of true love versus preconceived notions.
Chasing Amy continues the
tradition of amazing scripts by Kevin Smith, but distinguishes
itself by being more natural. Clerks
and Mallrats were very funny
films with interesting dialog, however I found the verbiage to be a
bit unnatural - almost as if the characters were walking thesauri.
In contrast, Amy's script
retains the edgy humor we all love Kevin Smith for, but the
conversations between characters are more realistic and natural.
Ben Affleck does a fairly decent job in this film, but his
performance does not stand out as particularly unique or memorable.
That honor goes to Jason Lee and Joey Lauren Adams. Okay, so maybe
Jason Lee isn't the best actor to ever appear on film. But God love
him, he really tried his best in Amy.
His precise comic timing, and ability deliver Smith's dialog so
effectively, makes him a real asset in Smith's stable of regulars.
He's the perfect funny man to Affleck's straight-man approach (no
pun intended). Joey Lauren Adams also turns in an endearing and
emotionally believable performance as Alyssa. Given the complexity
of her character, Adams is able to deliver a brilliant performance
by interjecting Alyssa with a wise sensibility and a broad range of
convincing emotion. If Adams continues performing like this, she'll
have a long and successful career.
Now, before you get into a tizzy over the video quality on this
disc, remember that Smith shot this film in 16mm, which is an
inherently softer and grainier format than 35mm. With this in mind,
the anamorphic widescreen video on this DVD (framed at 1.85:1) is
quite good. There are some minor source print blemishes and colors
tend to bleed slightly, but otherwise everything is A-okay. The
Dolby Digital 5.1 audio is a bit more active here than it usually is
in most romantic comedies. The music is nicely spread around the
listener, and ambient and directional effects are effectively
conveyed in the environment. Dialog is easily understood, only very
occasionally taking on a slightly congested sound.
The DVD edition of Chasing Amy
is a virtual feature-for-feature port of the Criterion laserdisc
from a few years ago. The only addition is a new video introduction
by Kevin Smith, where he addresses a statement he made on the
commentary. The track was recorded for the LD in 1997, back when DVD
was first crawling out of the primordial soup to evolve into the
juggernaut it is today. Smith can be heard to say "Fuck DVD!"
on the track (this was before he fully discovered the magic of our
favorite format). Smith explains himself in this introduction, and
it's quite hilarious. Speaking of the commentary, it's one of the
most entertaining you will find on DVD. The track features many
members of the cast and crew, but Affleck and Smith do most of the
talking as they discuss funny anecdotes and lob insults at each
other. It's all in good fun.
Also on the disc are 10 deleted scenes, each with video
introductions by Smith and company. Unlike many deleted scenes that
appear on DVD, these are actually pretty funny and are well worth a
look (you even get a taste of Affleck's Charlie Sheen impression).
After you peruse those, take a look at the outtake reel for an extra
dose of hilarity. A color bar sequence appears on the disc... but
this isn't your average, boring video test signal. Smith and his
cohorts introduce them and keep the comedy going while you tweak
your TV set. A booklet is included with the disc that contains a
short essay by Smith (explaining his feelings about the film) and
also an Askewniverse Legend.
The Legend is a reference
guide of the characters in the New Jersey Trilogy, and explains how
they (and the places and events in the films) are linked. Last, but
not least, the theatrical trailer for Chasing
Amy is included.
The Criterion DVD edition of Chasing Amy
is well worth your time and money. You get a fabulous film, full of
great comedy and a touching performance by Joey Lauren Adams,
presented with a nice anamorphic widescreen transfer and
better-than-expected 5.1 sound. And the extras are worth the price
of admission alone. For a vast majority of DVD special editions, I
check out the supplements once and then probably never watch them
again. I have already visited the supplemental material on this disc
several times, and I'm positive you will too. Highly recommended!