Mallrats

on October 20, 1995 by Christine James
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   From Kevin Smith, the writer/director of the promisingbut tedious 1994 film "Clerks," comes "Mallrats," a surprisinglyclever and hilariously bizarre take on the Gen-X teen experience.The thin plot used as an excuse to propel "Mallrats" and itsplethora of subtle self-referential sight gags, wacky surrealismand tongue-in-cheek rapid-fire philosophizing is that the twoprotagonists, T.S. (Jeremy London) and Brodie (Jason Lee), aredumped by their girlfriends (Claire Forlani and Shannen Doherty)and must embark on a quest to win them back. This is no mean feat,however, as they've both completely repelled their love interestswith their self-centered and slackerly ways. Brodie and T.S.adjourn to the solace of the mall, which, through the inclusion ofa few satirically named shops carrying the most inane of wares,skewers the phenomenon of rampant consumerism. At the mall, the twoencounter the oddest of characters, including a mischievous duo:stoner Jay (Jason Mewes) and the mysterious Silent Bob (Smith),whose plans for good-natured havoc-wreaking and securityguard-thwarting are aided by Silent Bob's Harpo Marx coat as wellas The Force. Other mall patrons include William (Ethan Suplee),whose frustration with his inability to see an image in a "MagicEye" poster turns him sociopathic; Tricia (Renee Humphrey), aworld-weary 15-year-old genius who has received a $20,000 advanceto pen a book titled "Bore-gasm" about the male libido; and Ivannah(Priscilla Barnes), a topless psychic with a third nipple.The dialogue here delights (as it did in "Clerks") in juxtaposingseeming imbeciles with intelligent, extemporaneous,polysyllabic speeches, pontifications, musings andtirades, often concerning human nature but sometimes merelydescribing in highly articulate detail something as mundane as whatseparates the food court from autonomous food service structuresintended for mid-mall snacking.The film is weakest when it reverts to juvenile, evenscatological humor, and the felling of a villain by making himvomit. But "Mallrats" mostly transcends those trappings of teenflicks and works on a far more witty level of humor, generatingmany laugh-out-loud moments. The entire cast has fun with theirroles and in turn are fun to watch.    Starring Jason Lee, Jeremy London, Shannen Doherty, Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith. Directed and written by Kevin Smith. Produced by James Jacks, Sean Daniel and Scott Mosier. A Gramercy release. Comedy. Rated R for strong language, including sexual dialogue, some scenes of nudity, and drug content. Running time: 97 min.
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