As a kid who was primarily growing up in the 90s its easy to see why Kevin Smith is one of the more beloved figures in my life even today. I watch each of his films as soon as I can regardless of how bad they are. Today I wanted to look back at one of the films that continues to rise on my list of favorites every time I watch it. Smith’s second film Mallrats.
Clerks is my favorite Kevin Smith movie, I’ll get it out of the way early and Mallrats is very much in the same vein as that movie but the increased budget helped to use bigger locations and a bigger cast for this production. The cast was composed of a weird mix stars some with a decent amount of experience and some with none at all. Jason Lee was cast as one of the leads despite having absolutely no acting experience. Lee was a professional skateboarder upon being cast, but has since appeared in several of Smith’s movies and made a pretty solid career for himself in the process. Lee’s future My Name is Earl co-star Ethan Suplee appears in a small but funny role as well. Ben Affleck was still an unknown at the time. He most recognizable for playing the main bully in Dazed and Confused, a film where Mallrats co-lead Jeremy London’s twin brother Jason played the lead. Sharron Doherty, who spent 4 years on 90210 was undoubtedly the most famous of the players at the time of filming. Joey Lauren Adams became Smith’s girlfriend during filming and that motivated him to write his next movie Chasing Amy with her in mind. Smith also inserts his previously existing characters Jay and Silent Bob into the film as well and they would become his trademark. Smith and friend Jason Mewes reprise their role, but not without a little drama. The studio threatened to replace Mewes after holding auditions for the part which included Seth Green. Mewes did win over the part in the end.
The film itself is about two young men TS (London) and Brodie (Lee) who are dumped by their respective girlfriends. TS, who was planning to propose to his girlfriend on a vacation is forced to cancel his trip and heads to the mall with his pal Brodie. Both characters embody the quintessential 90s slackers that helped turn the movie into a cult hit since its release. Michael Rooker plays TS’s enemy who happens to the father of his freshly departed girlfriend who seeks a TV deal for his new romance game show which will tape in the mall.
Mallrats is definitive 90s film. Kids hanging out at the mall was at its peak at the time and its no longer as popular “hang out” which can likely be blamed on the rise of online retailers. The characters boast a 90s style and it made sense that young Gen Xers have gravitated towards it. While I don’t think its a good of a movie as Clerks. I think Mallrats is funnier the budget obviously makes room for more stunts and more characters so all the humor doesn’t have to delivered in the dialogue like a lot of Clerks. is. The dialogue is still really fun too and vulgar as ever, but this is a film for bros and I can see myself having discussions like this with some of my own friends. The movie is extremely quotable with the nonsensical “Snoochie Bootchies” ingrained in fan’s minds. I don’t think all the performances are outstanding, the strongest performances were from the people who went on to have a career like Lee and Affleck while Jeremy London isn’t the best actor in the world as a lot of delivery is pretty wooden. Jay and Silent Bob provide a lot of humor thanks to their efforts to avoid capture from by mall cop and brutally beating up an Easter Bunny.
A lot of critics based the movie when it was released and the film failed to earn back its still relatively small budget. One thing that always disappointed me a little able Kevin Smith is how quick he can be to bash his own work when it doesn’t get the praise he’d hoped. He still does it now although the movies he’s been making lately have been garbage. Mallrats served as his punch line for years until it started to earn its audience.
Smith may have accidently influenced some of the modern day blockbusters with this film. It obviously takes place in the same universe as Clerks with Jay and Silent Bob making appearances and Clerks. Brian O’ Halloran playing Gill who is believed to be the brother of his Clerks. character Dante. This would be the start of his View Askewniverse which would continue with Chasing Amy, Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and Clerks 2. Jay and Silent Bob also appear in Scream 3 meaning that Smith’s films could take place in the Scream universe as well.
Stan Lee’s cameo is his first major cameo in a feature film and it definitely inspired the cameos we see from Lee in the Marvel films over the last 15 years.
Mallrats generated such a following over the years that Smith decided that a sequel to the film would be among his final projects before he retired. His original plan for the sequel was described as “Die Hard in a mall”. In 2015 Smith stated that Mallrats 2 would be his next film advancing ahead of the previously announced Clerks 3. Somewhere along the way the film evolved into a 10 episode miniseries rather than a feature film and the title became Mallbrats. Smith used his Twitter account to announce that the majority of the original cast would return for the project but after 6 failed pitches to various networks Smith admitted that Mallbrats would not happen and later announced that Clerks 3 would not be happening either.
Do you enjoy Mallrats as much as I do?