Up until this point, Kevin Smith only created two films which simply felt with the angst of Generation X and had stories that hardly even existed. Clerks was about some guy’s shift at work and Mallrats was about two friends hanging out in the mall, although there was a sort of “love” story. Chasing Amy on the other hand explores deeper levels of friendship and love in both a comedic and dramatic way.
Holden McNeil (Ben Affleck) and Banky Edwards (Jason Lee) are two comic book writers who have become famous from their successful series of books, “Bluntman and Chronic.” While at a ComicCon, Holden meets a fellow comic writer, Alyssa Jones (Joey Lauren Adams) and immediately falls for her. To his disappointment, he soon finds out that the love of his life is in fact a lesbian, but that doesn’t stop her from trying to win her over even at the expense of losing his best friend and business partner.
It would have been easy, as we see with many romantic comedies today, to make a simple minded sex comedy that is packed to the brim with anatomic and scatological humor and silly falls. This one, thankfully, stays far away from that and exceeded my expectations with deep and realistic characters and a personal message that Kevin Smith was trying to get across to his audience. This personal touch was present in Clerks but not so much in Mallrats, which detracted from its value.
After getting critically bashed for going way too over the top with his big budgeted Mallrats, Kevin Smith decided to go back to his low budget roots for Chasing Amy. Instead of going for laughs with physical comedy, the laughs once again come from brilliant dialogue and the characters. Jason Lee steals the comedic show as Banky, and of course Jay and Silent Bob are back again to give Holden some helpful advice.
But make no mistake, this movie is just as dramatic as it is comedic. The themes of loss of personal relationships and romantic goals being so far out of reach are enough to make the hardest of hearts crack if even a little bit. There are powerful monologues given by all of the major roles that are just a great expulsion of weighed down emotions that are so expertly written that I believe someone would actually talk like this. There are parts in this movie where I actually talked to my computer screen in hopes that the characters would hear me (it’s not that weird. we’ve all done it). I would be laughing one second and be angry the next. This kind of emotional play is not an easy task to write, let alone act, so it really shows the talent involved in this film.
The topic of unconventional true love is also explored in Chasing Amy in a way that I’ve never seen done before. I’ve seen movies with gay and lesbian lovers, but never as serious as the ones present here. For some reason, this is a very controversial thing in our present society and it really got me thinking that love is love, and everyone should be able to share in it. It was great to see a film make jokes about this in a very harmless way, and then stand up and defend it in the very same scene.
Chasing Amy is a huge step up from Mallrats and a landmark film in Kevin Smith’s career. This was the film that showed how he had matured and that he was capable of dealing with heavier stories. This is a surprisingly powerful film with top notch performances, dialogue, humor, and emotional value. Out of all of the Kevin Smith films so far reviewed, this is the one I recommend the most. It is truly a fantastic film.
Side Note: Chasing Amy was Quentin Tarantino’s favorite film of 1997. That says a lot I think.