By Bruce Hall
July 19, 2011
They say that when you dream, everyone in the dream is you. I say that when Kevin Smith makes a movie, everyone in the movie is Kevin Smith. This is why I decided not to take the easy way out and talk about Clerks. I hate Clerks. I’ve seen it twice and I hated it even more the second time. It’s a boring, self indulgent mess and it pisses me off to no end. It’s less a story than an extended bull session. It’s less a competent film than it is a first time director’s 90 minute wallow into personal excess. Don’t bother telling me that I’m crazy, and that Clerks is the bomb. Neither of those things is true and the sooner you can admit it, the better off you’ll be.
I feel slightly less antagonism toward Mallrats; possibly because despite her lack of talent Shannen Doherty’s bitchy animal magnetism has always captivated me. That siren can sing me onto the rocks any time. No, the subject of this week’s column is definitely one of Kevin Smith’s best known films, but it’s the only one that didn’t leave me feeling intellectually violated afterward. It’s the only one that I’d ever bother to watch even five minutes of ever again. It gets to me. It speaks to me. I can relate to it. It’s even one of the few truly topical comedies I can tolerate. Give up? No, it’s not Dogma. It’s Chasing Amy.
For those of you who care, Chasing Amy is the third film in Smith’s ongoing New Jersey Chronicles. This would be a fictional canon the director created in an attempt to infuse his films with a "slice of life" from his boyhood roots. Each film takes place in or includes characters largely from New Jersey, they all cross reference each other and they all include the characters Jay and Silent Bob. It’s nice to see someone acknowledge where they came from and I assume this gave Smith an initial level of comfort with his own material. Beyond that there seems to be little reason for the gimmick and I’m not as in love with it as a lot of people are. In fact, all it does is make it impossible for me to forget about how much I hate Clerks as I’m trying to watch something else. So I’m forced to remind myself that I actually DO enjoy Chasing Amy to the point where Jay and Silent Bob don’t annoy me and Ben Affleck is actually a welcome sight...
...who appears here as Holden McNeil, a moderately successful comic book artist who works with his childhood friend Banky Edwards (Jason Lee). Holden and Banky seem to be in the midst of a creative and emotional rut when we first meet them, listlessly banging out autographs at a comic convention. They act like a couple of disaffected jerks as Holden openly condescends to their fans while Banky is busy swapping intolerable chunks of clunky dialogue with a convention troll. We discover that Holden is a dour, introverted curmudgeon with a tendency to feel sorry for himself. On the other hand Banky is a dour, extroverted curmudgeon with a tendency to feel sorry for everyone else. I kind of feel sorry for both of them, since they spend all of their free time slumming around in bars arguing about comic books. Their conversations are moderately amusing but still dull and contrived. But if you’re a Kevin Smith fan, this won’t bother you. You probably going to bust a gut and tell me that I need to be more open minded. Fine. Let’s open it up.