Mallrats (1995) (Arrow Video) Blu-ray Review


Mallrats is a film that I love and the fine folks over at Arrow Video have put together a really nice package with this two-disc blu-ray set, filled with special features along with a nice remastered picture. Fans will love this set and they should because it is that good.


Studio: Arrow Video

Release Date: October 20th, 1995 (theatrical) / October 13th, 2020 (blu-ray)

Runtime: 1 hour 34 minutes 45 seconds (theatrical version) / 1 hour 25 minutes 31 seconds (tv cut) / 2 hours 1 minute (extended cut)

Region Code: A

Picture: 1080p (1.85:1 aspect ratio) (all versions)

Sound: English 2.0 (all versions), English 5.1 (theatrical and extended versions)

Subtitles: English SDH (all versions)

Slipcover: Yes (limited)

Digital Copy: No

Starring: Jason Lee, Jeremy London, Shannon Doherty, Claire Forlani, Jason Mewes, and Stan Lee

Written by Kevin Smith

Directed by Kevin Smith


THE FILM




Brodie Bruce, a Sega and comic book obsessed college student, and his best friend, TS Quint, are both dumped by their girlfriends on the same day, and to deal with their loss, they both go to the local mall. Along the way, they meet up with some friends, including Willam, a guy who stares at Magic Eye pictures, desperately trying to see the hidden image; Gwen, one of TS's ex-girlfriends; and Jay & Silent Bob, of Clerks fame. Eventually, they decide to try and win back their significant others, and take care of their respective nemesises (TS's girlfriend's father, and a store clerk who hates the two for not having any shopping agenda).


I watched CLERKS for the first time in 1995 after it was released on laserdisc. The film had been highly praised by Siskel & Ebert who I watched weekly on their tv show. I thought that the film would be funny and it was, but I was having a hard time relating to the characters because I was too young to enter the workforce, let alone be jaded by it. Of course, after getting my first job, I started to see what CLERKS was really all about. 


Kevin Smith’s follow-up, 1995’s MALLRATS, was a film that spoke to me more than CLERKS did. Here we had a film about people who talk about film, comics, and tv, subjects that my friends and I talked about all the time. The conversations had in MALLRATS were very close to some of the conversations that my friends and I had and it was a joy to see people like me represented on the big screen. The film was funny and had characters that were relatable.


MALLRATS was destroyed by the critics. Siskel & Ebert hated the film and other critics did too. The film bombed at the box office, making only a fraction of its $6 million budget back. Smith would step away from the film, always joking that “he made MALLRATS” whenever someone would poke fun at him. He used the film as a defense instead of standing by the film, something he later regretted.


The film is fairly basic in its design. It is a romantic comedy that has a plot, unlike CLERKS which had no plot to speak of. There are a few times where the camera slowly zooms in on either Shannon Doherty or Claire Forlani as they realize that they shouldn’t have broken up with either main male character as cheesy soap opera style music plays as if Smith was saying “This is what the studio wants, but I am going to make it as cheesy as possible.” 


The film works best when the characters are given free reign to talk about, and do, whatever they want. Jay and Silent Bob try to take down the stage for the game show that is going to be taping at the mall, and then beat up the Easter Bunny after being lied to about who really beat up Brodie. 


Speaking of Brodie, the real find of the film is Jason Lee who kills it as Brodie. You would never have guessed that Lee had never acted before MALLRATS as he owns every scene he is in. The way that Lee perfectly speaks Smith’s dialogue is a wonder to behold and every scene with him is fun to watch. Brodie is given some of the best lines in the film, but Smith doles out the lines to almost all of the characters with the exception of T.S. who is the film’s straight man.


MALLRATS is a film that gets better with each viewing. I bought the film on laserdisc when it first came out and I showed everyone the film who was willing to sit down and watch it. It was always a joy to watch people react to the film, this being a time before THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY turned the tide on raunchy comedies. The jokes come at us fast, the dialogue is witty, and we like these characters. Smith says that there will be a sequel and I hope that it can hold a candle to the original.


THE PICTURE AND THE SOUND



MALLRATS was given a new restoration by Arrow Video and the results are lovely. The film looks the best it has ever looked with detail being very high (patterns on clothing, individual hairs on someone’s head, etc). Colors pop when they show up especially in the film’s very pink climax. These remarks about the transfer apply to all three versions of the film found in this set except for the TV version. The TV version uses the same transfer for 98% of that version’s runtime, but there are shots sprinkled throughout where the quality drops significantly as the footage for those shots have been lost. Arrow had to use footage of lesser quality to fill in where the footage would have been. The drop in quality is very noticeable (like the uncut footage in Scream Factory’s SILENT NIGHT DEADLY NIGHT blu-ray), but it never takes away from the enjoyment of the film.


We have two tracks to choose from for our sound with the options being a 5.1 track and a 2.0 track. Both tracks sound great, but the film was originally mixed in stereo so that is the one that I went with for this review. The 5.1 just pushes the effects and music to the surrounds and I never really like that. It’s not bad sounding at all, but I like to listen to a film’s original mix.


THE FEATURES


Disc 1: Theatrical Version (1h 34m 45s, HD, 1.85:1)


-Introduction by Kevin Smith (12m 31s, HD, 1.78:1) Smith starts out by telling the famous story of his conversation with producer Jim Jacks the Saturday morning after the film opened. He then goes on to praise the poster (drawn by Drew Struzen), but admits that it sold the film very poorly. He finishes off by talking about how the film has aged well and that he had a Stan Lee cameo before it was popular. This introduction is only selectable from the “Play Movie” option on the main menu.


-Audio Commentary with Cast and Crew. Kevin Smith is joined by Chasing Amy’s Jason Lee, “Fat Buds” Mewes, Phantom’s Ben Affleck, Scott Mosier, and View Askew historian Vincent Pereira for a very lively commentary track where the stories flow like water and the jokes even faster.


My Mallrat Memories (29m 58s, HD, 1.78:1) Here we have an all-new interview with Kevin Smith sharing his memories of the making of Mallrats. Smith talks about the first time he met Jacks where he found out that Jacks had wanted to purchase Clerks for Universal and remake the film in color. He then talks about the casting process and how hard it was for the actors (Smith explains why very well and I don’t think I would be able to do it justice). He also talks about how Jason Mewes had to fight for his own role because Jacks didn’t think that Mewes was right for the role. There some great stories to be had here and Smith tells them better than anyone.


Mr. Mallrats: A Tribute to Jim Jacks (12m 57s, HD, 1.78:1) Smith pays tribute to Mallrats producer Jim Jacks in a very loving way. He talks about how Jacks fell in love with the movies, going to his local cinema every week and requesting films that the theater should show. Eventually, the theater offered him a job as a booker. He did extremely well at this and when the theater decided to buy a film and release it, they got Jacks to do it. He went out and discovered Blood Simple, made by the Coen Brothers, which did amazing for Jacks and the theater. Jacks loved film and Smith tells many stories to prove this. It is very apparent that Smith had a fondness for Jacks and I wish that this tribute was longer to get in more stories.


Blunt Talk (9m 59s, HD, 1.78:1) Now, on to a brand new interview with Jason Mewes. He starts off by talking about how, after shooting Clerks, he went back to the job he had before shooting Clerks: roofing. He then talks about how he didn’t get the luxuries that the other actors on Mallrats had as the producers didn’t even want him in the film and were ready to fire him at the first fuck up. He concludes with talking about how Mallrats is his favorite of the films he made with Smith and has some very find memories of making the film.


Hollywood of the North (10m 13s, HD, 1.78:1) In a change of pace, we are presented with a featurette concerning some of the Minnesotans who worked on the film. The thing about this featurette is that its animated. I liked this change of pace as it gives what would be a run of the mill feeaturette, a different flavor. There are some humorous stories to tell like the one involving Shannon Doherty and her German shepard. We also learn how Minnesota was a huge beacons of film production until the Canadians took that away.


When We Were Punks (6m 8s, HD, 1.78:1) The final new interview is with Mallrats director of photography David Klein. He starts out by talking about how he met Smith and Mosier and how he declined another job to do Clerks. Since Mallrats was his first studio film, Klein found himself with an experienced gaffer just in case Klein messed up and had to be fired. He ends the interview by talking about how he was pushed out of working with Smith, along with Joey Lauren Adams, by Harvey Weinstein. This is something that Smith talks about in one of his “Evenings with” dvds. 


Deleted Scenes (1h 2m, SD, 1.33:1) Kevin Smith and Vincent Pereira sit down to talk about the deleted scenes and sequences originally cut from the film. This is from the 10th Anniversary dvd.


Outtakes and Behind the Scenes Footage (8m 12s, SD, 1.85:1, 4x3) 


Cast Interviews from the original set (8m 37s, SD, 1.33:1) Typical onset interviews.


Erection of an Epic: Making of Mallrats (22m 9s, SD, 1.33:1) This is an archival retrospective with cast and crew looking back at the making of and release of the film.


Q&A with Kevin Smith (9m 1s, SD, 1.33:1) Archival Q&A filmed for the film’s 10th Anniversary.


Build Me Up Buttercup Music Video (3m 38s, SD, 1.33:1) directed by Kevin Smith


Trailer (2m 23s, SD, 1.33:1)


Disc 2: Extended and TV Cuts of the film


-TV Cut (1h 25m 31s, HD, 1.85:1) This is the crown jewel of this entire set. Back when Armageddon was about to be released, ABC decided to premiere Mallrats because of both films featuring Ben Affleck. Because of the very curse word and sexual humor of the film, extensive redubbing was employed to make the film “family-friendly”. All curse words were removed except for the word “ass”, but only sometimes. They remove it when Brandy says that Julie Dwyer had “the fattest ass”, but then allows it when Brandy, in the same scene, calls T.S. an ass. Of course, this makes for some very funny moments throughout the film. Nothing compares to the redubbing of Jason Mewes. Usually, the redubbing is done by the actors who are in the scene as it doesn’t take people out of the film as much as if it were done by a different actor. With Mewes, it was done with a different actor, and because much of Mewes’ dialogue contains words that ABC would find objectionable, the replaced dialogue is VERY noticeable. It doesn’t help that the lines read by the voiceover actor and Mewes alternate throughout making it a very weird experience. I have to say that I did love this version of the film. Its always a lot of fun watching a TV version of any film that contains swear words as I love trying to figure out what words are going to be used to replace to naughty ones. This version of Mallrats ranks near the top of tv versions along with Die Hard 2 and Scarface as some of the best edited-for-tv films out there.


Introduction to the TV Cut by Kevin Smith (4m 24s, HD, 1.78:1) Smith talks about why Jason Mewes did not redub his lines, among other things.


Extened Cut (2h 1m, HD, 1.85:1) Back before this version of the film was released on DVD, this extened version of the film was long sought after. This version contains a different opening to the film where it appears that T.S. was trying to assassinate the governor. This leads to the local news stations following T.S, around trying to find dirt on him. There are many other things that happen in this version of the film and it makes this version feel very different from the theatrical version. The core film is still there, but the events that lead us there are completely different. I do like this version of the film, but I think that it was wise to cut the footage that they did as it drags the film out to just over two hours.


Introduction to the Extended Cut by Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier (11m, SD, 1.33:1) Talk of why this version wasn’t the right one for theaters is discussed among other things.


Soundtrack EPK (4m 2s, SD, 1.33:1) A soundtrack promo featuring Scott Mosier and Kevin Smith.


Dailies (1h 59m, SD, 1.85:1) Very rough, VHS sourced dailies. The same that the filmmakers would see during filming. I like that these dailies were included here as it was a surprise and a welcome one at that.


Still Galleries:


-Behind the Scenes Stills (147 images)

-Comics (14 images) The comic covers used in the film’s opening credits


THE WRAP-UP



MALLRATS
is a really fun film that has aged very well. Sure, some of the jokes are dated, but that is with most comedies. The performances and the writing are fantastic and the film is just a blast to watch, especially with friends. Arrow Video has really done the film right with this blu-ray release. The new restoration is gorgeous and the special features are wonderful. The biggest get is the TV cut of the film which is just so good awkward edits and all. Fans will eat this blu-ray up and I can honestly recommend this to everyone. 

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