I saw the flick with two stoned pals during its opening weekend. We were all big fans of Clerks, so obviously we were hoping for the vulgar insight and wit of that flick, combined with a bigger-budget presentation and a few familiar actors. We were psyched, ready to giggle wildly, and have a good, stupid time.
I distinctly remember the three of us leaving that screening, burnt out from the joint, generally quiet, and relatively unenthused about what we'd just seen. "Well, that one bit was really funny..." and "That Jason Lee is pretty damn hilarious, though..." were the comments of the evening, and we generally admitted that, aside from a few standout chuckles, Mallrats was a big disappointment.
But as the years went by and I was able to catch more and more of Mallrats on cable and video, the misshapen little mutant of a flick has managed to grow on me. My original complaints still remain the same (it's drably directed for the most part and annoyingly self-indulgent in frequent doses), but I've also been able to appreciate the flick for its best assets -- while ignoring the speed bumps because, hey, I dig Kevin Smith's writing.
Although I (and Mr. Smith, it seems) would probably rank Mallrats among the filmmaker's lesser works, the guy does manage to bang out some resoundingly slick and sarcastic dialogue here. Mallrats might slow down and shine a spotlight on its own weakest gags, but the movie's still insulated by solid banter and clever quips. Plus, like I said ten years ago, Jason Lee is pretty freaking hilarious. Even if Mallrats were an absolutely wretched flick (which it's not), I say it'd still be worth seeing for Mr. Lee's enthusiastically and adorably childish performance.
And now you hardcore Mallfans can enjoy an all-new version of the flick; the extended version runs almost a half-hour longer than the theatrical cut, and it comes sporting alternate takes, re-added scenes, and the infamous "never-ending" prologue sequence. Fans will dig the new cut, but that's not to say it's any sort of improvement over the theatrical version. A worthwhile curioisity, absolutely. But frequent viewers will undoubtedly stick with the 96-minute cut.
Side A is where you'll find the theatrical cut, as well as the following treats:
Cast Interviews From Original Set is precisely what it sounds like: 9 minutes of on-set chit-chat with various cast & crew members. Smith, Lee, London, Doherty, Forlani, Rooker, they're all here. Meh, not bad.
A Brief Q & A with Kevin Smith is a new addition that runs about 9 minutes. Here Mr. Smith is asked a bunch of questions about this particular DVD release. Typically raunchy & rambling responses follow.
An 8-minute outtakes clip delivers a few chuckles here and there, but next up are a pair of high-quality featurettes: View Askew's Look Back at Mallrats was offered on the original DVD, and it's a slyly entertaining 20-minute retrospective piece in which cast & crew members look back with fondness and a little frustration.
But even better is the all-new The Erection of an Epic: The Making of Mallrats, which runs about 22 minutes and features a decade's worth of retrospection from Kevin Smith, film critics Kenneth Turan & Janet Maslin, Ben Affleck, producer James Jacks, Jason Lee, Ethan Suplee, cinematogrpaher David Klein, producer Scott Mosier, Jeremy London, Jason Mewes, Renee Humphrey, Stan Lee, producer Sean Daniel, executive producer Cotty Chubb, TV writer Paul Dini, Michael Rooker, and casting director Don Phillips. All of the participants seem to acknowledge that Mallrats might have been kind of a misstep in a few departments, but they're all able to enjoy the fact that the flick's taken on a life of its own -- even the two movie critics who trashed the thing!
A bunch of extra schwag has been transferred from the original DVD to this new-fangled one: the original audio commentary with Kevin Smith, Ben Affleck, Jason Lee, Jason Mewes, Scott Mosier, and Vincent Pereira is something that must be listened to (at least once) by any self-respecing View Askew fan. I'm not the first to say that this yak-track is probably funnier than the movie itself, and I doubt I'll be the last.
Rounding out Side A are some production photographs, the original theatrical trailer, and Smith's music video for The Goops' "Fill Me Up Buttercup."
Flip the disc over for the extended cut of Mallrats and two more extra goodies: one is a frequently amusing introduction to the new cut by Smith & Mosier, and the other is a fan-friendly Mallrats Q & A Session that runs about 50 minutes. If you've ever seen the Evening with Kevin Smith college sessions, then you know what you're in for here. But this time the filmmaker is joined by a host of Mallrats folks: Jason Lee, Jason Mewes, Ethan Suplee, Jeremy London, Renee Humphreys, Scott Mosier, James Jacks, and David Klein. The gang fields a bunch of questions from a generally goofy audience. Fun stuff.