Click here 4 stars

Joey Lauren Adams Looking
for love
in all the flawed
people

"Chasing Amy"

Reviewed by Carlos deVillalvilla

(Click on the images to see larger version and credits.)

Director Kevin Smith became the critic's darling after "Clerks," then became the critic's whipping boy after "Mallrats."

This is the third movie set in what Smith calls his Askewniverse, a small trio of New Jersey towns called, oddly enough, the "tri-town area" (which actually exists, and Smith actually grew up there), inhabited by stoners, slackers, libertines and jerks. In short, it's the real world, without the annoying odors.

Ben AffleckBen Affleck lives in this world, or rather he plays someone who does. That someone is Holden McNeil, a successful comic book artist (Smith is something of a fanboy who is heavily involved in the four-color world of comic books) who's best friend Banky (Jason Lee) is also his writer and business partner.

Their superheros are based on the exploits of two guys familiar to Smith fans; Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Smith), and the book they draw has reached a level of success that has attracted the attention of MTV (look for Matt Damon in a cameo as a smarmy Empty Vee exec) who want to turn it into an animated series a la "Beavis and Butthead."

At a convention, Holden meets struggling artist Alyssa Jones (Joey Lauren Adams) and falls in love with her. It soon turns out that Alyssa is a lesbian, and perfectly content to be one. Hope springs eternal, however, and Holden eventually confesses his feelings for her. In a somewhat unlikely turn, she falls for him as well (and you've gotta love a movie where the lead actress is an unlikely bet to fall for Ben Affleck). That's where things go sour.

DVD notes

The Criterion edition comes packed with goodies, ranging from deleted scenes to director's commentary, and a pretty sizable array of featurettes. All of this comes with a nifty comic/booklet that helps relate "Chasing Amy" into the View Askew Universe. Lots of bang for your buck here.

Unlikely many romantic movies, this is a relationship between imperfect people who can - and do - say and do the wrong things. Smith has a gift for being able to expose you to differing viewpoints and enable you to relate to all of them, diverse as they may be. This is ostensibly a comedy, with some hellacious laughs in it (the bit in which acerbic gay black artist Hooper X (Dwight Ewell) tries to convince the frenetic Banky that Archie is actually gay is hysterical), but this is also a movie that forces you to examine your own viewpoints, especially as they relate to your own relationships.

We are all chasing Amy, the metaphor Smith uses for searching for the perfect partner, our life's soulmate. Many times we find that partner, only to screw up the relationship. Then, forever, we are measuring our partners against The One that Got Away (this is particularly a guy thing, but it's a girl thing as well). Too often, we end up messing up by trying to fit our partners within our preconceived notions of what they should be, rather than accepting them the way they are.

There are times this is actually painful to watch, as you realize that with one thoughtful word said ... and sometimes, one thoughtless word not said, things would be great between Holden and Alyssa. That they aren't makes this a movie we can all actually relate to - and learn from.

VIDEO OR THEATER?

Watch it with the current love of your life in the privacy of your home and discuss it afterwards; you might be amazed at the insights that are revealed.
DVD at Amazon.
VHS at Amazon.

See cast, credit and other details about "Chasing Amy" at Internet Movie Data Base.