14th Oct2019

The Road to Reboot: ‘Mallrats’ Review

by Chris Cummings

With Jay & Silent Bob Reboot set to begin it’s nationwide US roadshow tour this week, we thought we’d go back in time a little and check out the View Askew universe once again and review some of our favourite Kevin Smith films… In this edition Chris reviews 1995’s Mallrats.

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After Clerks in 1994, Kevin Smith went back to his writing desk to work on a tale of slackers hanging out in the mall and so, in 1995, Mallrats was born. It is, in many ways, similar to Clerks in tone. You move away from the Quick Stop and into a shopping mall. Instead of Dante and Randall, we were introduced to Brodie Bruce (Jason Lee) and T.S (Jeremy London), two friends who talked shit, hung out, discussed the important things in life, like video games, kids on escalators and, of course, their relationships. It’s a snapshot of life through the eyes of Kevin Smith, once again. Smith also appears here, bringing back Silent Bob alongside Jason Mewes’ Jay.

With a bigger cast, a bigger story but the same well-written, relatable and hilarious dialogue, Mallrats, like Clerks, became a cult indie classic, talking directly to a whole generation. The location is perfect or a film of this type, and as we follow Brodie and T.S, we learn about their love-lives, their dislikes and their passions, but in that very specific and unique way that only Kevin Smith knows how to bring to the table. We see the changing relationships of Brodie and T.S through break-ups and arguments, and as Brodie finds his ex-girlfriend (only just) dating another man named Shannon (Ben Affleck) he begins to try to woo her back. T.S also attempts to win back his girlfriend, Brandi (Claire Forlani) by trying to inject himself into a game-show that is being filmed at the mall, which is run by Brandi’s father, Jared (played brilliantly by Michael Rooker). All of this amidst a backdrop of 90’s generational imagery, from comic book stores to fast food joints.

There are so many iconic sequences to be found here, from Silent Bob flying through the mall to the Magic Eye puzzle to, yes… a chocolate covered pretzel. It’s as funny as its predecessor and Smith’s writing is just as vibrant, just as silly and well thought-out. The characters seem to speak less in monologues and have more realistic types of conversations than they did in Clerks, which showed a growth in Smith as a writer. The look of the film too, the bigger cast, the larger location, showed Smith growing more confident as a director too.

While Mallrats may not be as well-liked as Clerks by many, it’s just as good in my view, and perhaps even more watchable in many ways. The cast are terrific, especially Lee who shines as the snarky, irritable Brodie. With folks like Michael Rooker, Shannen Doherty, Ben Affleck, Joey Lauren Adams and Ethan Suplee also bringing their fair share of memorable performances with them, it became a favourite among many Smith fans, and it’s aged very well. I love to go back and revisit this film regularly, every year or so. It has the nostalgia of the mid-90s going for it, but it also is just a very funny independent comedy that shows just how good Kevin Smith was for a number of years.

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