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Chasing Amy (1997)
Rated R

Starring: Ben Affleck, Jason Scott Lee, and Joey Lauren Adams

Rating:
*****
out of
*****

Kevin Smith, responsible for Clerks and Mallrats, is back with the third installment of his "New Jersey Trilogy." After getting spectacular reviews for Clerks, most critics, including me, panned the disappointing Mallrats for being too juvenile and too quick to go for cheap laughs.

Smith apparently took the criticism to heart, although most of the problems associated with Mallrats were brought about due to studio meddling and nothing more. With Chasing Amy, Smith's writing takes a much more emotional turn and becomes a lot more focused and funny as a result.

The story deals with two friends, Banky (Jason Scott Lee) and Holden (Ben Affleck), who produce a comic book called Bluntman and Chronic. When the two of them meet Alyssa Jones (Joey Lauren Adams) at a comic book convention, Holden becomes enamored with her and, it seems she is equally fond of him. However, as Alyssa jumps onstage with an old band of hers for a song for old time's sake, it's revealed that Alyssa is a lesbian.

Still, Holden and Alyssa decide to pursue a friendship. This annoys Banky, who feels that Holden is wasting his time with a woman who can never be more than a friend to him. As Alyssa and Holden's relationship starts to get more serious, Banky finds out some information about Alyssa that could result in a serious problem between them.

As with Clerks, the dialogue and situations are laced with references to Generation X staples like Star Wars, Jaws and comic books. Unlike Mallrats, there is a genuine emotional bond between the characters, in both friendship and romantic levels. Smith's scripts, especially this time, always sound as though they're ad-libbed and completely real conversations. He's a genius at capturing the spontaniety between two characters.

Chasing Amy will be compared to Clerks because of the dialogue and it's a comparison that will reflect the major difference between the two movies. While Clerks was more or less a straight comedy with inventive and hilarious dialogue, Chasing Amy is more mature and heart-felt. There could have been a real temptation to go the cheap laughs route like Mallrats, but, wisely, it's avoided and the film benefits enormously.

Chasing Amy is worth hunting down and seeing.

Trivia: Kevin Smith wrote the script for the Tim Burton version of Superman, starring Nicholas Cage, which was scheduled for release in 1998. (Source: The Internet Movie Database)

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