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Site created 12/15/97.


review added: 2/16/01



Chasing Amy
1997 (2000) - View Askew/Miramax (Criterion)

review by Greg Suarez of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Chasing Amy (Criterion) Film Rating: A-

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

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


Chasing 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 filmmaker.

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!

Greg Suarez
gregsuarez@thedigitalbits.com




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