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Universal Studios Home Video presents
Mallrats: 10th Anniversary Edition (1995)

T.S.: What? Do you know that kid or something?
Brodie: I hope his pants get caught and a bloodbath ensues.
T.S.: What is with you today?
Brodie: Don't get me wrong. I don't wish the kid harm, but his mother should suffer that horrific ordeal so she'll learn how to manage her child!
T.S.: That's sort of a harsh lesson, don't you think?
Brodie: Man, there's not a year goes by—not a year—that I don't read about some escalator accident involving some bastard kid that could've been easily avoided had some parent, I don't care which one, but some parent conditioned him to fear and respect that escalator!

- Jeremy London, Jason Lee

Review By: Nate Meyers  
Published: October 04, 2005

Stars: Shannen Doherty, Jeremy London, Jason Lee, Claire Forlani, Ben Affleck, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith
Other Stars: Joey Lauren Adams, Renee Humphrey, Ethan Suplee, Stan Lee, Priscilla Barnes, Michael Rooker, Sven Thorsen, Brian O'Halloran, Elizabeth Ashley
Director: Kevin Smith

Manufacturer: deluxe digital studios
MPAA Rating: R for strong language including sexual dialogue, and some scenes of sexuality and drug content; the Extended Edition is not rated and exhibits the same qualities
Run Time: 01h:35m:16s (theatrical); 02h:02m:06s (extended)
Release Date: September 13, 2005
UPC: 025192674228
Genre: comedy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B- B+BB B+

DVD Review

While many twentysomethings find the work of Kevin Smith to be grand entertainment, I find myself consistently turned off by his brand of lowbrow humor. I refuse to worship Dogma, spit at Clerks, and you'll never find me Chasing Amy. However, his much-maligned sophomore effort, Mallrats, has an endearing charm about it. A major critical and commercial disaster when first released in 1995, the past decade has been kind to Smith's movie and its offbeat characters have amassed a following.

The central premise surrounds two young layabouts, T.S. (Jeremy London) and his comic-obsessed friend Brodie (Jason Lee), who spend a day at the mall after being dumped by their girlfriends, Brandi (Claire Forlani) and Rene (Shannen Doherty), respectively. Brodie is the quintessential mallrat, with deep convictions about children riding the escalator and an acute awareness of what constitutes the food court, while T.S. is his reluctant guest. Meeting an odd assortment of characters, many of whom viewers will recognize from other Smith films, just about everything that can happen at the mall does—the Easter Bunny is mugged, comic legend Stan Lee imparts words of wisdom to our heroes, and a plethora of other incidents occur. This is not a movie that concerns itself so much on how things will end up, but rather on the sequences that lead us to the story's conclusion.

The cast of characters is an eclectic mix, with some working better than others. The drive of the narrative seems to be locked in on T.S. winning back Brandi, but neither London nor Forlani is particularly engaging. Rather, the side stories of Jay and Silent Bob (once again played by Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith) don't annoy me like they normally do. Silent Bob's attempts at Jedi mind tricks and Jay's stoned demeanor find a nice equilibrium amongst all the other ongoings at the mall. Perhaps the inclusion of William (Ethan Suplee) failing to unlock a "magic eye" painting date the movie, but being old enough to remember the fad I found myself amused. Whether the other gags appeal to you will depend on your knowledge of pop culture and how unsophisticated you're willing to be.

The real star is Jason Lee, whose Brodie is the man every dateless teenage boy idolizes. Never has a dork accomplished so much by doing so little. Not only does he manage to foil his enemy, the "Buttman" Shannon (Ben Affleck), but he even pops Shannen Doherty in an escalator. Lee's performance is filled with energy and an astonishing honesty, with the first time actor easily outperforming all the others—he practically carries the movie on his shoulders. Frankly, the film is most at home when following Brodie on his various musings concerning a superheros' unmentionables, comics, malls, and topless fortunetellers. He manages to be both arrogant and tender, thoughtless and caring. I'm not saying it's on the level of Brando, but Lee's work here certainly provides a lot of laughs.

Critics originally complained that Smith had turn his back on the originality of Clerks, becoming too Hollywood by having T.S. rival with Brandi's father (Michael Rooker), culminating in a climactic game show at the mall. Indeed, Mallrats is far closer to your testosterone driven teen-sex comedy than Smith's debut work. However, there's still a uniqueness to the story. Made before the Farrelly Brothers found success, its combination of raw language and zany subplots, such as 15-year-old Tricia (Renee Humphrey) documenting the male sex drive, can hardly be labeled as rote subject matter. There's nothing profound in Smith's script, but the references to other movies and comics will make fanboys happy. Where his other work tends to get bogged down, by my estimations, is in its efforts to shock and offend the audience. Here, Smith is content at letting the characters be who they are—offensive or otherwise—and allowing the audience to react as they will.

Included on this new DVD is an extended edition, containing 26 minutes of additional material. Smith's unskilled filmmaking is especially evident in this new cut, since he shot hardly any coverage, and thus everything plays out pretty much the same even though he went back to the original material. The primary difference is in a new opening, where T.S. accidentally sabotages Brandi's dad at the governor's ball. The new version is not as good as the original because the script is not strong enough to support a full two hours. Additionally, the opening, and the references to it that sprinkle throughout the new cut, only serve to take the movie away from the mall. Brodie and T.S. are you typical dissatisfied college kids in the theatrical cut, while the subplot resulting from the alternate opening make them a bit more fantastic and less relatable.

While Smith does not prove himself to be much of an auteur with Mallrats, his simplistic direction and heavy emphasis on biting dialogue make for a hilarious movie. Thanks largely to the efforts of Jason Lee, this belongs in the same league as Animal House. When Smith makes his next movie, I won't be in line for it... unless it's "Mallrats II: Die Hard in a Mall."

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Both the theatrical and extended editions are shown in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Whether the theatrical edition is a new transfer or the same as the previous release is unknown to me. Either way, the picture looks adequate on both cuts—each being an RSDL transfer. The source material is nothing that will knock your socks off, but it is treated fairly here. Apart from a few print defects, the picture is clean and has a nice film-like look about it.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0French, Spanishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix sounds nice, and is fittingly front heavy. The surround sound kicks in to good effect, but the rear-channel activity (as well as sound separation and directionality) is kept to a minimum. The most important thing is that the dialogue is always audible and the track is clean. There also are French and Spanish Dolby Stereo 2.0 mixes available.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 36 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Blues Brothers: 25th Anniversary Edition DVD, The Big Lebowski: Special Edition DVD, Cry_Wolf
2 Documentaries
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Ben Affleck, Jason Lee, Jason Mewes, Scott Mosier, Vincent Periera, Kevin Smith
Packaging: other
1 Disc
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL
Layers Switch: 01h:19m:34s (theatrical); 01h:

Extra Extras:
  1. Interviews—a collection of the cast members, including director Kevin Smith, speaking from the set about the movie. Additionally, an interview with Smith and producer Scott Mosier about the new "extended edition."
  2. Q&A Sessions—two different question-and-answer sessions with writer-director Kevin Smith, as well as members of the cast and crew.
  3. Outtakes—a montage of various goofs from the set.
  4. Production Photographs—a gallery of still pictures from the set.
  5. Music Video—the Kevin Smith directed video of "Build Me Up Buttercup" by The Goops.
Extras Review: This new release of Mallrats contains a mixture of extras that are brand new and carryovers from the previous DVD. On the first side of the disc, which contains the theatrical cut of the movie, the trailers for The Blues Brothers: 25th Anniversary Edition DVD, The Big Lebowski: Special Edition DVD, and Cry_Wolf start things off. Following that, Cast Interviews From Original Set (08m:43s) features the principal stars talking about their role and the movie from the Eden Prairie Mall (located in my home state, Minnesota). This is pretty standard publicity material, with a lot of plugs for Clerks. However, things get a little more unique with A Brief Q&A With Kevin Smith (09m:01s). He makes a lot of crass jokes, honing in on the male genitalia, and talks about the motivation for this new anniversary edition DVD. It's clear that he's joking, but his analysis of DVD fanatics is pretty much dead on.

Also on the first side of the DVD is a reel of Outtakes (08m:12s). There's nothing especially funny included, just your usual collection of flubbed lines. The documentary View Askew's Look Back at Mallrats (21m:05s), from the prior DVD, is a good look at the reaction to the movie on its original release, and the cast and crew give some interesting anecdotes. A newly created documentary, The Erection of an Epic: The Making of Mallrats (22m:09s) is a more thoughtful look back at the movie, with film critics Janet Maslin and Kenneth Turan joining the cast and crew to analyze why it has become such a hit on the home video market. The two documentaries are a nice compliment to one another.

Production Photographs are a gallery of publicity stills from the set, featuring mostly images of the cast. Following that is the Kevin Smith-directed music video Build Me Up Buttercup (03m:40s) by The Goops. He takes shots at all the dated video clichés, though most of them are no longer used; thus, how funny you think the video is will likely depend on your recollection of the early 1990s MTV. The film's theatrical trailer is presented in 1.33:1 pan-and-scan and proves the point made in the documentaries that nobody knew how to market this movie. Finally, the last supplement on the first side of the disc is an audio commentary with Kevin Smith, producer Scott Mosier, "View Askew historian" Vincent Pereira, and stars Ben Affleck, Jason Lee, and Jason Mewes. They make a lot of jokes and seem to be having a great time together, giving little inside scoops and pointing out continuity errors. One particularly funny moment occurs when Smith discusses a joke that the producers felt was too gross and would never sell, but wound up as the poster image for There's Something About Mary. All in all, it's a fine commentary track.

The flip side of the disc, containing the extended cut, has an Introduction by Director Kevin Smith (11m:01s). Standing alongside his friend and producer, Mosier, the two make too many jokes and this introduction goes on far too long. They explain that this is pretty much a first assembly of the movie, dubbing it "the version that should never have been." The two never take the subject seriously, so it becomes tedious. However, the much more interesting Mallrats: The Reunion (50m:10s) is a Q&A session between Smith, Mosier, producer James Jacks, cinematographer David Klein, Lee, Mewes, Jeremy London, Renee Humphrey, and Ethan Suplee. Smith dominates the forum, with the others only speaking on occasion. However, the real delight of watching this are all the crazy fans who go from asking intelligent questions to explaining their life stories to doing pratfalls. You might not get much information out of this feature, but it's a fun time. Kind of like the movie itself.

Extras Grade: B+

 

Final Comments

For those who spend their days at the mall, you can now soothe your consumer's ennui by purchasing Mallrats: 10th Anniversary Extended Edition. The juxtaposition of the theatrical cut with the new extended cut provides an interesting look into the editing process. Now all we need is for Stan Lee to turn the characters into Marvel Comics superheroes.

 


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