Chasing Amy

Chasing Amy is the third installment of writer/director Kevin Smith’s "Jersey Trilogy".

I have been waiting for the Chasing Amy DVD for a long time now. Last year it was supposed to be released in Canada but some legal delays set in. Chasing Amy is the third installment of writer/director Kevin Smith’s "Jersey Trilogy". Starting with Clerks, moving on through Mallrats and finishing in Chasing Amy, Smith’s world is populated by a strange group of twenty something people that interact like few movies permit.

In Chasing Amy, two comic book writers, Holden (Ben Affleck) and Banky (Jason Lee) are about to hit the big time by selling the rights to their book to become a TV cartoon. While at a comic convention they meet Alyssa Jones (Joey Lauren Adams), who writes a "girly" book. Immediately, Holden finds himself draw to Alyssa. His initial crush rapidly becomes infatuation, which develops into love. The only problem is Alyssa is gay. They become friends and are constantly hanging out together. Holden’s love is almost an affront to Banky who is constantly warning Holden that he cannot change the young lesbian. Holden can no longer hold in his feelings and tells Alyssa he loves her. The rest of the story takes on a new twist on the theme of forbidden love. Smith has crafted a modern and twisted variation on Romeo and Juliet with the gays and straights taking the place of the feuding families.

Smith tends to cast from his weird and talented group of friends. Of course Smith plays the ever present Silent Bob along with his druggie partner Jay (Jason Mewes). Affleck underplays his part as the belabored Holden. Although his range is a bit limited in Chasing Amy he does a very good job of carrying the role. Adams is a sheer delight as Alyssa. She is bubbly, upbeat and dynamic. Still, when the time arrives for real emotion she is more than up to the challenge. Jason Lee carries the offbeat role of Banky to a comic relief high. Just when the topic threatens to bring down the energy of Chasing Amy his unexpected antics provides the needed lift. Typical of the incestuous casting of a Smith film, Lee’s wife Carmen plays the lover of Alyssa, Clerk’s star Brian O’Halloran and Matt Damon appear as the network execs and Ben Affleck’s kid brother Casey appears in the convention scene. The cast fits well together, works as a unit and provides the best in playing off of each other.

Kevin Smith is an offbeat director. He himself openly states that Clerks was overly praised, Mallrats was overly bashed and Amy was the needed capstone to the trilogy. Smith is not a very dynamic director. In the commentary he states that he likes the film technique of Mise en Scene, a long steady camera shot. Others in the same commentary say that Smith is just too lazy to move around with the camera. His style is almost documentary in nature. This is a continuation of style developed in his previous two movies. You have to watch real carefully since something is always happening in the background. His films are a mosaic of carefully planned imitation of life. He also has his homage to Star Wars and Jaws found in every one of his films. The comparison of sexually obtained scars between Alyssa and Banky is almost an exact duplication of the same type of scene in Jaws with hilarious results.

The Chasing Amy disc is pretty good. The video is a bit dark and sometimes dirty. This is because the movie was made on super 16mm film for about $200,000. Many denounce this as shoddy but I found it added to the documentary feel of the film. The soundtrack has been remastered to Dolby 5.1 but the sub woofer and rear speakers are under utilized. The real pull of this disc is the extras. The commentary is extremely funny. Smith and the cast introduce the deleted scenes with an explanation for the changes. This is a must have for Smith fans and a real find for those interested in this up coming director.

Review by Doug MacLean of

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