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movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Mallrats

Starring: Shannen Doherty, Jeremy London
Director: Kevin Smith
Rated: R
RunTime: 96 Minutes
Release Date: October 1995
Genre: Comedy

*Also starring: Joey Adams, Ethan Suplee, Brian O'Halloran, David Brinkley, Jonathan Brodie, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Ben Affleck

Review by Andrew Hicks
2½ stars out of 4

MALLRATS is the follow-up to Kevin Smith's acclaimed unrated extravaganza CLERKS and it left me with two prevailing impressions -- this guy's a genius but he's also a sellout. The beauty of his debut film was that it didn't adhere to all the conventions of popular cinema. MALLRATS, on the other hand, is driven by formulaic Hollywood romance rules, even down to the cheesy keyboard music featured in the background during serious dialogue. As far as that aspect of the plot goes, we've been there, done that plenty of times and know exactly what's going to happen ahead of time, but MALLRATS at least partially redeems itself by integrating the worn twentysomething romance theme with Smith's truly unique humor and Tarantinoesque dialogue.

MALLRATS is centered around that pillar of modern American society, the shopping mall, where Generation X'ers with nothing better to do go to hang out. That's how you know it's a movie, because in real life, mall demographics are at least 75% junior high kids sneaking cigarettes and kicking off every sentence with the phrase "Oh... my... God!" Here we have slackers like T.S. (Jeremy London) and Brody (Jason Lee) wandering around the mall after being dumped by their girlfriends, who both conveniently turn up at the mall. T.S.' ex, Brandi, was in love with him but was pressured into the breakup by her game show host father. Brody's ex, Renee (Shannen Doherty), broke up with him because all he ever did was read comics and play Sega games.

The plot revolves around the taping of Brandi's dad's game show at the mall (another interesting coincidence) and the sabotage thereof by CLERKS holdovers Jay and Silent Bob. Renee, meanwhile, is being wooed by a mall manager who finds women on the rebound and "screws them in an uncomfortable place." ("The backseat of a Volkswagon?") As with any wacky comedy, though, the plot is secondary to a series of wacky situations, including an assault on the Easter bunny, an appearance by Marvel Comics artist Stan Lee, and a topless fortune teller, along with those Tarantino-inspired dialogues about everything from how Superman could impregnate Lois Lane to Brody's "smelly palm" trick. These sequences are original and funny and make the movie worth watching, even if the reliance on a conventional formula to tie it all together ultimately brings the viewing experience down. MALLRATS is an unusual marriage between creativity and cliche.

Copyright 1996 Andrew Hicks

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