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She's a woman's woman

Comic book artist Holden McNeil (Ben Affleck) falls for fellow artist Alyssa Jones (joey Lauren Adams) in Chasing Amy.

Chasing Amy

Written and directed by Kevin Smith.

Starring Ben Affleck, Joey Lauren Adams, Jason Scott Lee, Dwight Ewell, Jason Mewes, Illeana Douglas, and Brian O'Halloran

By Jonathan Litt
Staff Reporter

In Kevin Smith's new movie, Chasing Amy, he combines the hilariously unique style of conversational dialogue familiar to fans of Clerks and Mallrats with a classy and mature story about life and love. This time there is no convenience store or mall to serve as a source for gimmicks, however. The "mall" of Chasing Amy is the world itself, and Smith appears to have found comfort with his new open surroundings. Chasing Amy is a story about coming of age - for both the fictional characters on screen and of Kevin Smith himself.

The story revolves around two comic book artists, Holden (Ben Affleck) and Banky (Jason Lee), who have hit it big with their best-selling comic "Bluntman and Chronic," a spoof of Batman and Robin featuring the likeness of the familiar Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith).

At a comic book convention, Holden is smitten by the sight of a fellow comic book artist, Alyssa (Joey Lauren Adams). After several rounds of flirtatious courtship, the over-confident Holden is ready to make his move until he finds out that Alyssa is actually a lesbian. He is so naive that until the moment of discovery, he doesn't even realize that the bar she invited him to is a gay bar.

Banky, the honest but tactless extrovert, is thrilled to find out and proceeds to barrage her with a series of questions about lesbian sex in a classically raunchy Smith dialogue. (Take note: This scene is a tribute to the famous scene in Jaws in which Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw compare old shark wounds.)

Holden is initially scared off, but with Alyssa's support, he overcomes his shock and becomes good friends with her anyway. Their friendship grows until Holden realizes that his feelings towards her are more than just friendly. With the same sense of naivete that prevented him from realizing she was a lesbian in the first place and against the urging of best friend Banky, he decides that he should try to pursue a relationship with her despite their incompatible sexual orientations.

As a result of many events that take place thereafter, each of the three characters is forced to re-examine themselves and their relationship with the other two. Their responses to various crisis situations are surprising at times, but more than anything convey a sense of realism; that real feelings can't be characterized as good or bad, but usually are the result of our best and worst traits combined. This means things don't turn out hunky-dory for everyone in the end, but the results are still satisfying to the viewer.

At the crossroads in the movie comes a scene-stealing entrance of Jay and Silent Bob. In addition to their usual hilarious antics, they help to partially explain the purpose of the movie. With the abysmal commercial failure of Mallrats (although it's still liked by most Kevin Smith fans), Smith felt like he needed to redeem himself by moving away from commercialization (represented by Bluntman and Chronic) and tell a more personal story. He succeeds in his attempt, but even more impressive, he doesn't sacrifice an ounce of his trademark uncensored humor in the the process.