Mr. Kevin Smith. Take a gander across the masthead of this fine example of internetistic jibber jabber and you’ll find a quote from the auteur of the common man (or at least the auteur of the common man who’s a teenager from Jersey). The quote across the top on this page is but one example of the high regard with which Sarah holds our Mr. Smith. Another example was brought to my attention recently when we decided it would be a good idea for a Sarah Presents Kevin Smith movie night with a viewing of the seminal 1995 film Mallrats. Not just any copy of Mallrats, mind you, because Sarah broke out an autographed by the man himself copy of Mallrats. Impressive. And since I own a boomerang autographed by Tony Orlando (go ahead and give yourself a second to read that again), I decided not to ask for a certificate of authenticity legitimizing this cultural tschotske.
Mallrats isn’t necessarily a movie that I want to give the full review treatment. It’s Kevin Smith, the good kind of Kevin Smith, mindless and juvenile. If you want a few laughs mixed in with some sketchy performances, Smith is usually your man. Honestly, if you want to see Mallrats and you feel the need to know the critical reception given to it, or a full breakdown of the plot, Wikipedia is always available. Suffice it to say that it’s a Kevin Smith movie that features a couple of bros chilling at the mall, trying to figure out how to get their ladies back while simultaneously getting love advice from Stan Lee, ogling Terri from Three’s Company and her eye opening anatomy, and getting varying levels of logistical help from Jay and Silent Bob. One of the bros engages in a knockdown, drag out rivalry for Shannon Doherty’s affection with a brilliantly mouth breathing Ben Affleck (who works at a place in the mall called The Fashionable Male), which culminates in the airing of a sex tape featuring Affleck demanding his underage partner to refer to him as a particular member of The Backstreet Boys.
Truthfully, when you type it all out like that it’s some pretty funny stuff. Kevin Smith, for me, is always hit or miss for pretty much the same reason. He hits because of the I’m just a dude from Jersey who’s blissfully stuck in adolescence (in a good way), making and writing the kind of stuff that I would have found funny when I was in high school, and doing it all with Hollywood’s money the way I want to do it. There’s always some genuinely funny stuff in his movies and, beyond all that, his movies usually give off the type of positive vibe you hope would come through when a guy feels like he’s playing with house money. On the other side of the same coin, most of the time what he finds funny actually is funny, but sometimes it’s not. It’s not very often, but you end up cringing at certain scenes that aren’t funny in the same way you cringe at the drunk guy at the party who thinks he’s funny but isn’t. And you sort of wish Smith would let just a little editing creep in. Plus, there are always those one or two scenes where you realize a lot of the “actors” are really just Kevin Smith’s boys that are in all his movies.
For sure you want to be in the mood for something mindless if you want to break out Mallrats. But if you’re ready for some laughs on a juvenile, let the good times roll level, this is just one of many movies of its type that will work for you. Because just as that drunk guy at the party sometimes makes you cringe, sometimes the booze talking actually does make him kind of funny. I’m going to leave it to Sarah to flesh out in a future post where the true genius of Kevin Smith lies. But watching Mallrats after not having seen a Smith movie in a good long time reminded me that the guy is good for some laughs. And watching it with a true Smith fan was a treat. Sarah tipped me off to the “good parts”, nodding in appreciation even though it was probably the 20th time she was seeing the movie. Mallrats will make you laugh and supply some mindless entertainment on a rainy Saturday afternoon, but it’s even better if you watch it with a friend or a group and you can all laugh together, like the characters in the movie. Do it, Doug!!!