Blu-ray Review: Mallrats | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Saturday, February 27th, 2021  


Studio: Arrow Video

Dec 03, 2020 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

After throwing a hissy fit over a family commitment getting in the way of their Florida vacation, T.S. Quint (Jeremy London) is dumped flat by his fiancée-to-be, Brandi (Clare Forlani). Meanwhile, his best friend Brodie (Jason Lee) is also being dumped by his girlfriend, Rene (Shannon Doherty), for being an ambitionless layabout who won’t even introduce her to his mother. The two try to cure their blues with a trip to the mall, where Brandi’s father is coincidentally hosting a local access dating show in which she’ll be the eligible bachelorette – and T.S. and Brodie set about sabotaging with the help of Jay and Silent Bob.

As Kevin Smith reinforces time and again in his self-deprecating introduction to Arrow’s new Blu-ray edition of Mallrats, the movie was a mega-flop on its theatrical release 25 years ago. The follow-up to the director’s indie hit Clerks was critically reviled, and made back only a third of its $6 million budget. While our popular culture has caught up with the insular, Marvel Comics-obsessed heroes of Smith’s films, its many other issues haven’t improved over the quarter century since it was released. Revisiting it now, Mallrats may not be as bad as you remember it being, but it’s still not a good movie. (This, coming from someone who is generally warm to the Askewniverse schtick.)  

Rather than sharply mining humor from the everyday malaise of lower-middle-class suburban life as he had in Clerks, it seems as if Smith approached Mallrats thinking the one thing everyone adored about his breakout film were its Star Wars references. Clerks’ dialogue was witty, relatable, and authentic; Mallrats went the route of recurring conversations about superhero dicks. Worse yet, it barely involves its heroes in the movie’s central caper: destroying the live gameshow broadcast. They leave these antics to Jay and Silent Bob, while T.S. and Brodie mostly wander around moping and listening to others’ vulgarly recount their sexual escapades. It’s hard to be invested in their lovesickness when the audience is given little option but to agree with their girlfriends’ assessments of their worthlessness.

Sure, there’s a little bit of fun in seeing Ben Affleck in an early role as a villainous douchebag. It’s too bad it all culminates in a laboriously set-up punchline about statutory rape. Smith made a much better movie before Mallrats, and he’s made better and more meaningful ones since. (We should count ourselves lucky this one didn’t sink his career for good.)

Whether you’re a Mallrats fan or apologist, Arrow Video’s deluxe Blu-ray offers plenty for Kevin Smith fans to enjoy in its many, many supplements. Included are a bunch of new interviews with Smith and one with co-star Jason Mewes, plus hours of archival material from the initial EPK for the film and old DVD releases. You’ll also get three cuts of the film: theatrical, extended, and television, the latter of which is worth watching just for the ridiculous over-dubs of its cuss words.



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