Likeable Mallrats recreates high school fun
Directed by Kevin Smith.
Starring Shannen Doherty, Jeremy London, Jason Lee, Clair Forlani, Michael Rooker.
Sony Fresh Pond.
By David V Rodriguez
After High School, friends go in different directions. Some go to college, some go to work. Others just go to the mall. Mallrats is the second movie from director Kevin Smith, who received a lot of attention for his first film, Clerks. Viewers may notice a similar style.
Mallrats' two main characters are Brodie (Jason Lee) and T.S. (Jeremy London). Brodie has just been dumped by his girlfriend (Shannen Doherty) for his having no ambition, no prospects, and caring more for his Sega and comic books than for her. T.S. is in a similar situation: He planned to take girlfriend Brandi away for the weekend, but she canceled to help her father on his gameshow. Thus, T.S. blames her father for her break up.
So, having nothing better to do they head off for the mall, where they hope to come up with plans to win their girlfriends back, or failing that, kill some time. They find other friends who are even stranger than they are, including one friend who has spent most of the week staring into a Magic Eye poster, and two other friends who are too weird to explain, but it is enough to say that one of them has been trying to learn how to use the Force.
The group soon learns that Brandi's father is filming his gameshow there that day (live), and they make plans to disrupt it. Unfortunately, the show is guarded by La Fours, a dreaded mall security guard with two kills to his name, and this turns a small plan into an all day affair.
This is a not-to-original setup but it is carried out well. It has a more modern style of humor that should be perfect for a college age audience. Being modern does not necessarily mean being sophisticated -- most of the humor is quite low brow -- but the jokes work. The college-age audience is more comfortable talking about sex in a casual way, so that a vulgar joke is not automatically funny. Mallrats has a large number of these "dirty" jokes, but they rely more on the humor of the situation than on a vulgar punch line.
Mallrats succeeds because the characters are very likeable. They are simple and have a Beavis and Butthead quality to them, only not quite so thin. Brodie and T.S. are perfect: two guys who don't take themselves too seriously, but who aren't so stupid as to insult the audience. These characters are more than just another Bill and Ted; they are like your high school friends, but better -- they have more heart, are more exciting -- and if your friends were this funny, you would probably spend more time at the mall.