Release Date(s)1995 (October 13, 2020)
Studio(s)View Askew Productions/Gramercy Pictures (Arrow Video)
- Film/Program Grade: B-
- Video Grade: A-
- Audio Grade: A-
- Extras Grade: A-
After Kevin Smith’s newfound indie and moderate commercial success with Clerks, his follow-up would continue his unique brand of dialogue-driven, dirty joke-telling, foul-mouthed characters in Mallrats. With a larger budget to work with at a major Hollywood studio, but also impeccable production support, the film unfortunately did not garner the same level of commercial prosperity or critical appreciation, bombing immediately upon release. Though the film was treated as a joke by Smith for years (until his more recent off-beat but less appreciated films came into being), Mallrats later gained an enormous cult following on home video. Retroactively now considered a classic of the era, it often gets lumped together with similar films like Empire Records and Dazed and Confused—films with youthful characters, hip soundtracks, and quirky sensibilities.
T.S. (Jeremy London) and Brodie (Jason Lee) are two schlubby guys from the suburbs who are having girl problems. Brandi (Claire Forlani) breaks up with T.S. after having proved himself to be selfish when she reveals that she has to cancel their vacation plans to help her father Jared (Michael Rooker) with his fledgling game show, while Rene (Shannen Doherty) dumps Brodie for being a lazy layabout who’d rather read comic books than introduce her to his mother. To drown their sorrows, they head for the local mall to hang out and stew over how to win their ladies back. While there they run into the less than savory clothing store manager Shannon Hamilton (Ben Affleck), T.S.’s ex-girlfriend Gwen (Joey Lauren Adams), the 15-year-old writing savant Tricia (Renee Humphrey), the hidden picture-obsessed Willam (Ethan Supplee), the imposing security guard LaFours (Sven-Ole Thorsen), and Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith). All roads converge when T.S. attempts to win Brandi back from her disapproving father and stop her from appearing on his tasteless game show, while Brodie confronts Rene after realizing that she is now dating Shannon Hamilton, who is self-admittedly using Rene for his churlish desires.
Mallrats is a true snapshot of the period it was made in. Like all films of this type, it doesn’t hold up when it comes to the trends, the clothing, and even the music, but the characters are strong enough to carry it through. A minor issue with it are its two main love stories. Because there are so many things going on in the film with different tones, it feels false, whereas in Smith’s follow-up Chasing Amy, it works perfectly. Mallrats is a sillier movie by design, more in line with Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, which Smith would make two movies later. That said, it’s still a charming film, one that totally wins you over, even if certain elements don’t entirely work. Jason Lee steals the film as Brodie, his breakout role, and even veteran actors like Priscilla Barnes who, in her case in particular, pop up in small but memorable roles. Lest we not forget the appearance of Stan Lee, whose presence is so significant that Captain Marvel would reference it decades later.
Arrow Video brings Mallrats to Blu-ray for a second time with a new 4K restoration from the original 35 mm camera negative, with additional content scanned from a 35 mm interpositive for the extended cut. This restoration was also approved by both Kevin Smith and director of photography David Klein. Grain has a pleasant resolve, mostly as a thin sheet over the film, while detail has been increased. Blacks are a tad darker than the previous Blu-ray, and the color palette has also been adjusted, though mildly. It has a slightly cooler appearance, making colors like purple appear darker and deeper, but skin tones are a tad too pallid. It’s not obvious, and side-by-side screenshots are the only way to really gauge the difference. Contrast is improved and the overall image is stable and clean with nary a scratch or speck in sight. Unfortunately, the jump cuts (due to the loss of trimmed frames while editing the film) that were present in the extended version of the film are still here, though only one is incredibly obvious while the others less so.
Both versions of the film feature audio in English 5.1 and 2.0 DTS-HD with optional subtitles in English SDH. The boldest part of the film’s soundtrack is its use of hard rock and grunge music. It’s powerful and enveloping when it occurs. Dialogue exchanges are mostly clear and precise, though some of the set-based audio and use of overdubs can be obvious. Sound effects have surprising impact as well, particularly whenever Jay and Silent Bob are up to mischief. Both tracks exhibit the same amount of fidelity, though the 5.1 does open things up a bit. They’re otherwise similar sonically.
The following extras are included on each disc:
DISC ONE – THEATRICAL VERSION
- NEW Optional Introduction by Kevin Smith (HD – 12:31)
- Audio Commentary with Kevin Smith, Scott Mosier, Vincent Pereira, Jason Lee, Ben Affleck, and Jason Mewes
- NEW Mallrat Movie Memories (HD – 29:58)
- NEW Mr. Mallrats: A Tribute to Jim Jacks (HD – 12:57)
- NEW Blunt Talk (HD – 9:59)
- NEW Hollywood of the North (HD – 10:13)
- NEW When We Were Punks (HD – 6:08)
- Deleted Scenes with Introductions by Kevin Smith and Vincent Pereira (SD – 62:48)
- Outtakes and Behind the Scenes Footage (SD – 8:12)
- Cast Interviews from the Set (SD – 8:37)
- Erection of an Epic: The Making of Mallrats (SD – 22:09)
- Q&A with Kevin Smith (SD – 9:01)
- Build Me Up Buttercup Music Video (SD – 3:38)
- Trailer (SD – 2:23)
DISC TWO – EXTENDED VERSION
- Optional Introduction to the Extended Versin by Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier (SD – 11:00)
- NEW Optional Introduction to the TV Version by Kevin Smith (HD – 4:24)
- NEW TV Version (HD – 85:31)
- NEW Soundtrack EPK (SD – 4:02)
- NEW Dailies (SD – 119:35)
- NEW Behind the Scenes Still Gallery (HD – 147 in all – 2:27)
- NEW Comics Still Gallery (HD – 14 in all – 0:14)
- NEW Easter Egg (HD – 0:52)
In the new introduction to the theatrical version, Kevin Smith speaks on his surprise and appreciation of the film’s cult following. The vintage audio commentary for the film’s original DVD release is just as informative and irreverent as it was twenty years ago. Mallrat Movie Memories and Mr. Mallrats interviews Kevin again. He recalls his experiences making the film, including the arduous casting sessions and shows his appreciation for his loyal producer friend Jim Jacks. Blunt Talk features a new interview with Jason Mewes in which he speaks on his love for the experience of making the film. Hollywood of the North is an animated interview segment (likely taken from audio interviews) with some of the lesser known cast and crew members speaking about making the film in Minnesota. When We Were Punks speaks to David Klein about shooting the film with very little experience. Many of the Deleted Scenes were put back into the extended version of the film. Erection of an Epic is a documentary on the making of the film from the aforementioned original DVD release.
The TV version has been recreated in HD using footage from the theatrical and extended versions. In addition, lower grade VHS footage has been used in places where this version used alternate angles or different footage, which only happens a handful of times. The most infamous aspect of this version is the dialogue, which has been severely edited for TV, even going so far as to overdub Jay with a different voice. There are also other minor trims for content. In addition, there are over two hours worth of Dailies, but they’re sourced from a very poor VHS. The Easter egg, which can be found by clicking right when Dailies is selected, is a brief interview snippet with Kevin in which he talks about how the film has become an annual Easter watch for some.
Also included is a 24-page insert booklet featuring cast and crew information, Mallrats: The Perfect Example of a Sophomore Slump? by Philip Kemp, and restoration information. In addition, there’s also a two-sided recreation of Jay and Silent Bob’s stage destruction plans. Missing from the original Collector’s Edition DVD release is the live footage from the audio commentary. Also missing from the 10th Anniversary DVD and previous Blu-ray release is the Mallrats: The Reunion: Tenth Anniversary Q&A, the View Askew's Look At Mallrats featurette, and a collection of eight Easter eggs. So if you own any of those previous releases, you may want to hang on to them.
Mallrats is still a fun and enjoyable movie twenty-five years after its release. It’s not perfect on all sides, but it’s a cute romp with likable characters and a fun setting. Arrow Video’s Blu-ray release of the film offers a nice upgrade with excellent A/V quality and a bevy of bonus materials to sort through. For long-time fans, this comes highly recommended.
- Tim Salmons