Universal // 1995 // 96 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Sean Fitzgibbons (Retired) // July 27th, 1999
They're not there to work...they're not there to shop...they're just there.
Kevin Smith's lackluster sequel to Clerks is given the full treatment as a Universal Collector's Edition DVD. In the process, this disc helps to shed some light (and some new laughs) on what went wrong with Mallrats.
There are not many people out there who have seen Clerks and then can say they enjoyed Kevin Smith's follow-up film, Mallrats, more than his first low-budget film. Despite studio interference, Mallrats provides some good laughs to fans of Smith's work, although not the constant barrage of humor presented in Clerks.
Mallrats is the story of T.S. Quint (Jeremy London) and his friend Brodie Bruce (Jason Lee) who both retreat to their local mall when their respective girlfriends dump them both. Once at the mall T.S. and Brodie discover that their local hangout has been taken over for a shooting of the dating show, "Truth or Date," run by the father of T.S.'s former girlfriend, Jared Svenning (Michael Rooker). T.S. originally broke up with his girlfriend Brandi (Claire Forlani) because she agreed to participate as a contestant in her father's show, instead of going with T.S. to Florida; where T.S. planned to propose. Brodie and T.S. enlist the help of Silent Bob and Jay (Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes) to help ensure that the TV show in the mall is ruined. At the same time Brodie discovers that his former girlfriend Rene (Shannen Doherty) is dating the testosterone driven manager of a men's store in the mall, Shannon (Ben Affleck). The movie chronicles the antics of the entire cast as they spend the day in the mall.
As I said before, Kevin Smith's comedic sense is present throughout this film, but in a lesser form than in his independent film, Clerks. Most of the characters in the film are played to perfection and there are tons of cameos of Smith friends (seen previously in Clerks) and even some semi-famous individuals. Despite its drawbacks, if you are a fan of Kevin Smith fans, you will find enough to laugh at in Mallrats to enjoy the film.
Universal does a great job bringing Mallrats to DVD as a Collector's Edition. The anamorphic widescreen image (1.85:1) looks great, despite the fact that it only runs on one layer of the disc. Mallrats does not contain any breath-taking landscapes, besides a Minnesota mall, of course; so its not exactly the transfer to show off DVD. Nevertheless, flesh tones look realistic and there is no visible grain or artifacting in the film. As for audio, Mallrats is presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1 track, which rarely utilizes the entire range of all 6 channels. Then again, Mallrats isn't designed to be flashy in the audio department. As with all of Smith's films, Mallrats focuses on dialogue, which is well placed and heard on this DVD. Also benefited by the use of a 5.1 audio track is Smith's great soundtrack and score for the film. Albeit occasionally cheesy (on purpose) the soundtrack fits right into the motif of the film and is a joy to listen to.
Now lets move on to the real meat of this disc, the extra content! First of all, this DVD contains a terrific commentary track that is, in some respects, even funnier than the film itself. Kevin Smith, Ben Affleck, Jason Lee, Jason Mewes, producer Scott Mosier, and Vincent Pereira all shed light on what went wrong with the film and give some insights into how much fun the shooting of the film was. To enhance the commentary, Universal has decided to utilize the multi-angle feature on DVD to allow users to access video of the commentary recording during certain instances in the film. I would have preferred to see the video throughout the film, but I'll take what I can get.
A nice featurette is also included in this disc in which Kevin Smith along with cast and crew members recall struggles in making the film, the marketing of the film, and the ultimate failure of Mallrats. Not self-serving like most featurettes, this featurette is a refreshing change allowing those involved with the film to express their true feelings about what happened with the movie.
Another addition to the disc are deleted scenes, totaling over an hour of additional footage. Most of the deleted scenes deal with the original opening for the film (20 minutes long) which was cut because it wasn't funny and kept the film from moving to its focal point, the mall, fast enough. Most of the other additional scenes are either longer versions of existing scenes or alternate versions of existing scenes that refer to the original opening of the film. Clumped in with the deleted scenes is a copy of a few pages from the original Mallrats screenplay; displaying yet another possible opening for the film.
One of my last favorite extras on this disc is the music video for the Goops' "Build me up Buttercup." This hilarious music video features Jay and Silent Bob as they demonstrate all the cheesy music video techniques used by other directors. Jay and Silent Bob are the ones who bring the funniest moments to this film so anything extra featuring them is a welcome surprise. Also available on the disc are production photographs, production notes, web link content (DVD ROM), and a theatrical trailer. Don't forget to click on the robot's eyes in the "Bonus Materials" menu for an extra special surprise!
Yes, Mallrats is the worst film Kevin Smith has made to date. The movie really isn't that bad but is definitely below expectations of Kevin Smith. Smith made a hilarious low budget film so you think with some big name actors and a larger budget he could make an even more comedic film. But alas, the Gods of Hollywood had too much of a hand in Mallrats which ultimately doomed the film.
In comparison to the rest of the cast, Jeremy London's performance as T.S. is definitely lacking. Probably the only poorly acted character in the film, T.S. lacks the over-the-top attitude all other characters in the film contain. Actually, London manages to scare up a few laughs due to his over-acting in this film. If cast in a lesser role I would hardly care (Smith films are not known for great acting) but London portrays one of two main characters and therefore is constantly in the film making me cringe.
Oh, and the Michael Rooker butt shot was just really unnecessary.
Despite a less than comedic film, Universal manages to make the film once again interesting and humorous on this DVD with a great commentary track and some enlightening extra content. Comedy fans will probably want to rent this film but there is no question that this is the DVD Kevin Smith fans must own; forget Buena Vista's over-priced, under-content, Clerks Special Edition DVD.
Acquitted on all counts. Snoochie Boochie Noochies!
Review content copyright © 1999 Sean Fitzgibbons; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (French)
Running Time: 96 Minutes
Release Year: 1995
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Feature commentary with director Kevin Smith, cast members Ben Affleck, Jason Lee and Jason Mewes, producer Scott Mosier and Vincent Pereira
* Deleted Scenes
* Live Footage from Commentary Session
* Theatrical Trailer
* The Goops Music Video: "Build Me Up Buttercup"
* Production Photographs
* View Askew (Smith's Official Site)
* News Askew