Chasing Amy appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Expect an up and down presentation.
While I could blame virtually all of the flaws in Clerks on the source material, it became tougher to figure out what caused the various problems here, mostly due to the inconsistency. For instance, sharpness varied all over the place, even within scenes that followed each other rapidly. One moment the movie would look soft and fuzzy, and then it’d be crystal clear. Though much of the film exhibited decent to good clarity, the inconsistency became a bit maddening.
Similar frustration accompanied other aspects of the transfer. At times, colors were bland and flat, but then we’d find much more natural and satisfying tones. In general, this side of things was fine, however. Blacks were also up and down but usually appeared satisfactory, and the same went for shadows. One minute a shot would be thick and too dense, while the next would look smooth and easily visible.
At least the transfer lacked jaggies, shimmering or edge haloes, and it also failed to present any source flaws. Grain was heavy at times, but that appeared to be an artifact of the original photography. Other print defects never became an issue. Enough of the flick looked good for me to rate this as a “B-“, and I also felt reluctant to slap Amy with a low grade because I believed it represented the rouce material pretty accurately. Still, the lack of consistency meant I didn’t feel comfortable with a higher mark; as was the case with Clerks, ugly is ugly, even when ugly is as good as it can get.
On the other hand, I felt more consistently pleased with the film's DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, which seemed surprisingly effective for such a small picture. The soundfield stuck mainly to the forward channels, where it provided some nice imaging. Music spread especially well to the side channels; the songs we heard offered an immersive environment that makes them more prominent. Effects popped up from the sides less frequently, but they were used appropriately and they blended together well.
Even a little dialogue emanated from the sides at times; during the end sequence at the comic convention, almost all of one character's spiel came from the left speaker. The surrounds received more modest usage; for the most part, they just reinforced the music. Although the soundfield lacked ambition, it seems appropriate for this kind of film.
Also strong was the quality of the audio. Dialogue could appear a little muddy at times, but it usually sounded clear and natural. Effects were clean and realistic, and the music came across terrifically well; it displayed fine dynamic range and really added some dimension to the mix. One shouldn't expect a slam-bang soundtrack for a movie like Chasing Amy, but the audio delivered a very satisfying experience.
When we head to the Blu-ray’s extras, we begin with a new audio commentary from writer/director/actor Kevin Smith and producer Scott Mosier. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at the film’s origins and influences, cast, characters and performances, sets and locations, their relationship over the years, music, the budget and related challenges, and many, many anecdotes.
I don’t think it’s possible for Smith and Mosier to create a dull commentary. Their Amy chat proves to be predictably delightful. Though Smith suffers through a cold – expect lots of snot-affected snorts and sniffles – and Mosier claims to remember little about the production, they interact as well as ever, and they throw out tons of great deals. Of course, they’re also very amusing. This is another fun, lively chat.
Next comes a documentary called Tracing Amy. It runs one hour, 21 minutes and 15 seconds as it features notes from Smith, Mosier, Miramax Films’ (1992-2005) Jon Gordon, Miramax Films’ (1988-1996) Mark Tusk, director of photography Dave Klein, associate producer Bob Hawk, film critic Amy Taubin, and actors Guinevere Turner, Joey Lauren Adams, Ben Affleck, Jason Mewes and Jason Lee. The show looks at regrouping after the failure of Mallrats, the origins and development of Chasing, cast, characters and performances, getting studio backing, locations and production logistics, rehearsals, real-life inspirations and various aspects of the shoot, potential controversies and the depiction of homosexuals, editing, the film’s release and its impact.
I expect good behind the scenes pieces on Smith DVDs/Blu-rays, and “Tracing” fully lives up to those expectations. Sure, some of the info repeats from the commentary; that’s inevitable, and not really a problem. We get so much good new material that even those redundancies don’t detract. “Tracing” offers a terrific, fulfilling documentary.
Called Was It Something That I Said?, a “conversation with Kevin and Joey” lasts 18 minutes, seven seconds. They chat about their relationship during the shoot and its influence on the film as well as other aspects of the film. Once again, we get some repeated content, but the mix between Smith and Adams adds some sparks. He dominates – no shock there – but we get enough from Adams to balance things. This is a fun, enjoyable piece.
More fairly new material shows up in a 10 Years Later Q&A. It fills 27 minutes, 46 seconds and features Smith, Mosier, Adams, Lee, Affleck, Mewes, and actor Dwight Ewell. The actors tell us how they came to the project, and we also hear about various aspects of the production and reflections on its legacy. A fair amount of fresh information appears, and it’s nice to see all the participants together, especially since this is the only place we find Ewell in the supplements.
10 Deleted Scenes occupy a total of 25 minutes, one second. Seven of the 10 provide extended sequences that add varying levels of material. The most interesting presents the lawyer who negotiates Holden and Banky’s contracts.
As for the actual deleted sequences, we find an extended bit with Steve-Dave and Walt at their comic shop; it’s self-indulgent and never should’ve been in the final flick, but it’s fun for fans. We also get a quick cameo from Ileana Douglas as Alyssa’s bitter roommate. While nothing here is especially stellar, it’s enjoyable to see the cut pieces.
In addition to the film’s trailer, we also find four minutes, 56 seconds of Outtakes. These are largely the usual takes blown by goof-ups and laughter. I'm not a huge fan of this kind of stuff, but these are decent.
A few ads open the disc. We get clips for Everybody’s Fine, Extract, and Surrogates. These also appear under Sneak Peeks along with a promo for Blu-ray Disc.
Kevin Smith will probably never create a truly great movie, as he's just too inconsistent. However, despite the hit-or-miss nature of his work, he provides more than enough creativity and wit to make the films generally very good, and Chasing Amy stands as his best work to date. The Blu-ray provides erratic but acceptable picture, good audio, and a simply outstanding set of supplements. I definitely endorse this nice release of a charming flick.
Note that you can purchase the Blu-ray of Chasing Amy on its own or as part of a package called “Kevin Smith 3-Movie Collection”. This set also includes Blu-rays of Clerks and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. It retails for $89.99, which means it’s about $20 cheaper than the separate prices of the three movies. If you want all of them on Blu-ray, it’s a good deal.