Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Mallrats (1995)

Directed by Kevin Smith. Seeing "Paul Blart: Mall Cop" made me want to see "Mallrats" again. A word of caution about renting "Mallrats;" there are a couple of editions of this out there and they present vastly different films.

The "Tenth Anniversary Extended Edition" should probably be avoided. It's a director's cut of sorts that adds about a half-hour to the movie. It also includes director Kevin Smith introducing the film. He explains eloquently and amusingly why the long cut is inferior and unnecessary and he is very, very right.

This long cut calls attention to Kevin Smith's youth as a director. Not enough coverage was shot in dialog; sometimes scenes run so long without a break in the shot it feels like a camera was just pointed at a play onstage. The pacing is weird; it takes forever for these mallrats to get to the damn mall. Overall, the length suggests lack of self-confidence; while scenes with Smith's own Silent Bob character (alongside Jason Mewes) are the liveliest in the film, these are brief (actually the perfect length) compared to scenes with other actors, whose work Smith may have felt unnecessarily more attached to.

One more point about this "Tenth Anniversary Extended Edition." Most of the material in this cut can be seen on the original DVD's extended scenes tracks, etc. Additionally, while the original DVD includes Smith's always enlightening and funny director commentary, the anniversary edition does not. The commentary on the original "Mallrats" DVD includes insight into the film's financing, production, marketing, box office performance and plenty of gossip about the personal lives of everyone involved. Leaving the commentary off the anniversary disc is enough reason to not get that edition.

If you like Kevin Smith's movies and the genre he paid tribute to here, "Mallrats" is a great movie. Though because the teen romance comedy is by its nature a studio genre, its length and pacing may have actually benefited from studio interference prior to its release.

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