Rarely has a "sophmore slump" been as serious as the one that happened to director Kevin Smith. After the success of his low-budget "Clerks", he made the jump to a bigger-budget teen comedy - one that many thought was going to be a smarter version of the kind of 80's teen movies that hadn't been around for a while.
The result was "Mallrats", a movie that was almost universally panned by critics and yet, has gained an incredible life on video. The second flick in Smith's "New Jersey Trilogy", "Mallrats" stars Jason Lee as Brody, a 20-something slacker who has just been dumped by Rene (Shannen Doherty), who feels that Brody spends too much time playing video game hockey. Bummed at the turn of events, he heads for the mall, where he's joined by T.S. (Jeremy London), who has also just been dumped by Brandi (Claire Forlani), his fiancee.
The two head to the mall, where they encounter a series of characters, including Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Smith), the famed stoner pairing that have been a hit in nearly all of Smith's pictures. Brody enlists the two to try and stop the dating game show that Brandi's father has her starring on, which is filming at the mall. There's also a guy who keeps staring at those 3-D pictures in order to try and see something (Ethan Suplee), the evil owner of a men's clothing store (Ben Affleck), the Easter bunny, Stan Lee and other characters that find their way into the day's activities at the mall. There's not a whole lot of plot, but the picture tries to get laughs throwing the main characters into a series of episodes.
Overall, the film makes for a pretty fine time waster, with its biggest fault being that it's simply uneven. While Smith's sharply funny and crude writing often gets a laugh, there are stretches of the movie that fall flat. The performances are also generally decent, although some (Jeremy London remains rather bland, and Claire Forlani doesn't exactly do well in a comedy) are better than others (Lee's performance livens up a few of the bits that don't work.) "Mallrats" is not going to be remembered as Smith's finest hour, but it does deserve another look.
This DVD includes an "extended cut" of the movie, which, as we learn from the introduction to Kevin Smith, is essentially the early cut of the movie, which runs about another half hour. The biggest addition here is a longer opening of the picture, which those who own the prior DVD will be familiar with, as it's included in the deleted scenes section there. However, there are also quite a few alternate takes and footage inserted in the picture, including - as Smith notes in the intro to the cut - some footage from the TV version (which should have been included, as the TV version of "Mallrats" offers some of the most unintentionally funny censoring I've ever seen in the TV broadcast of a feature film.)
The extended cut of the movie isn't meant to be a "fix" for the film's issues. Instead, this additional cut of the movie just offers an alternate look at approximately what the early cut of the movie was like. Some of it is pretty entertaining and works okay, although the longer opening is still pretty weak. The extended cut is on one side of the DVD, while the theatrical cut is on the other.
VIDEO: A very good, but not quite perfect 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer that looks clear and clean. Sharpness and detail are mostly fine, although the picture does look a tad soft in a few wide shots.
Some minor instances of shimmer, a couple of specks on the print and a few of slight traces of edge enhancement appear, but otherwise, the presentation looked crisp and clear. The film's bright color palette looked great here, with nice saturation and no smearing.
The "extended cut" of the movie is also presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, although it understandably has some issues. Some of the footage is taken from a rough version of the movie and doesn't look as good as the rest of the movie. There are also some frames missing between cuts in some instances, so there are slight jumps in the picture on some occasions.
SOUND: The film's Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation is perfectly adequate for the material. "Mallrats" doesn't have a lot of action going on, but there's quite a few nice rock songs on the score that are nicely spread across the front soundstage. There isn't too much going on in the surrounds, but nor would one really expect much rear speaker action from a comedy like this. Audio quality seemed fine, with crisp, clear dialogue and music.
EXTRAS: The commentary from the original release with Smith, Affleck, Mewes, Mosier, Lee and Vincent Pereira is once again included with the theatrical cut of the film. The commentary is certainly one of the funniest ever recorded, as the group pretty much takes every opportunity to poke fun at the movie - especially Affleck. Still, while the group has a great time chatting about the flick, there are still stretches where the track provides some decent information about the production. Oddly, the original release also offered a multi-angle feature where one could view the participants recording the commentary at various times throughout the movie. Unfortunately, that seems to have been taken out for this release.
Also included on the theatrical cut side of the DVD is the new documentary, "Erection of An Epic", a 22-minute look back at the making of "Mallrats", as well as the response the picture has gotten since it hit video. We hear from critic Kenneth Turan, critic Janet Maslin, Smith, Mosier, Affleck and others. The piece is general look at how the film came together, some of the things that worked and didn't work and how the audience for the film has built over the years.
We also get "View Askew's Look Back at Mallrats", which takes a look at what happened during the production of the movie, but also - as with "Erection of an Epic" - looks at the reaction to the picture. We also get a new 9-minute Q & A with Smith about his feelings on revisiting the picture for this 10th Anniversary DVD.
On the side with the extended cut of the picture, we get a fairly long introduction from director Kevin Smith and producer Scott Mosier, who discuss the development of the extended cut of the picture.
On the extended side, we also get a nearly 50-minute Q & A session, with director Kevin Smith, actress Renee Humphries, producer Scott Mosier, actor Ethan Suplee, producer Jim Jacks, actor Jason Mewes, actor Jeremy London and actor Jason Lee. The questions aren't exactly spectacular (the first question from the audience to Smith is if he thinks that "Mallrats" is responsible for Easter Bunny beatings at malls), but many of the questions are at least a bit better, and the participants certainly have a lot of fun fielding the questions from the packed audience.
We also get EPK interviews from the set, oouttakes, production photos, the trailer and the music video for "Build Me Up Buttercup", featuring Jay and Silent Bob. The fake easter egg that was included on the first release once again finds its way onto this DVD, as well.
Final Thoughts: "Mallrats" isn't without some definite faults, but it's pretty fun at times. This new 10th Anniversary Edition provides a few fun new features, including a new cut of the picture that, while not a fix for some of the issues with the picture, should be entertaining for fans to see.