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Kevin Smith
Ben Affleck, Joey Lauren Adams, Jason Lee, Dwight Ewell, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith
Writing Credits:
Kevin Smith

It's not who you love. It's how.

Chasing Amy is the third installment in the "New Jersey Trilogy" from award-winning writer/director Kevin Smith. Cult comic-book artist Holden (Ben Affleck) falls in love with fellow artist Alyssa (Joey Lauren Adams), only to be thwarted by her sexuality, the disdain of his best friend Banky (Jason Lee), and his own misgivings about himself. Filled with Smith's unique ear for dialogue and insight into relationships, Chasing Amy offers a thoughtful, funny look at how perceptions alter lives, and how obsession and self-doubt skew reality.

Box Office:
$250 thousand.
Opening Weekend
$1.642 million on 519 screens.
Domestic Gross
$12.006 million.

Rated R

Widescreen 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby Surround 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 113 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 11/17/2009

• Audio Commentary with Director/Writer/Actor Kevin Smith and Producer Scott Mosier
• “Tracing Amy” Documentary
• “Was It Something I Said?” Conversation with Kevin Smith and Actor Joey Lauren Adams
• “10 Years Later” Q&A with Cast and Crew
• Deleted Scenes
• Trailer
• Outtakes
• Sneak Peeks


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Chasing Amy [Blu-Ray] (1997)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 24, 2009)

I didn’t get into Kevin Smith’s movies until a 1999 DVD screening of Clerks. I enjoyed it more than expected, so I pursued Smith’s other flicks. When I checked it out in 2000, 1997’s Chasing Amy was the final piece in my personal Smith puzzle.

I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this movie, as I'd heard very conflicting opinions about it. 1999’s Dogma was the first Smith movie I saw without any foreknowledge of different opinions about it. I confronted its three predecessors with varying degrees of pre-existing information, and none of them covered as wide a spectrum of opinions as Amy.

Now that I've watched it, though, I think it's probably the strongest of Smith's films. Unlike the prior three movies, Amy comes with a semi-adult viewpoint. Clerks and Mallrats were movies about and for teens and college kids, and their biases came through clearly. Dogma seemed more ambitious but was such a fantasy that I can't actually regard it as an "adult" film.

In Amy, Smith maintains a high enough proportion of silly smuttiness that it may seem odd to call it a mature project, but it's the only one of his movies that depicts relationships in a fairly realistic manner. Granted, the story partially hangs on its high concept twist: Holden (Ben Affleck) falls in love with Alyssa (Joey Lauren Adams) although she's a lesbian. However, this aspect of the tale becomes less significant than you'd think, and the overall content tells a fairly honest and convincing story of modern relationships.

Amy is clearly the most personal of Smith's early films, and it's the only one likely to get under your skin, for who hasn't experienced heartache similar to that shown in the movie? Although this part of the content makes the picture drag a bit in the second half - the first hour or so follows the typical Smith gag pattern more conventionally, which means the rest seems somewhat dry - it also provides the film's emotional punch, one that's surprisingly strong. We've seen tales of heartbreak and woe many times, but Amy seems more "real" than most, which makes it that much more compelling.

It wouldn't be a Smith movie if it weren't hit or miss, though, and Amy provides ups and down similar to his other offerings. However, these seem fairly minimal, and most of the picture proceeds at a good rate. Smith remained a lackluster visual filmmaker as of 1997, but his way with words usually helps him deflate those problems.

"Usually" being the key phrase, as Smith's finesse leaves him for many of Alyssa's lines. It's clear he doesn't know how to write for women; Smith writes what he thinks women would say and doesn't show much skill in that area. Hey, I wouldn't be able to do any better, so this isn't a terrible slam on him. It's just that Alyssa's lines often seemed vaguely "off"; I couldn't quite put my finger on the issues, but her dialogue appeared wrong in mild ways.

Adams does the best she can with the part and is fairly winning as Alyssa. She's easily the most complicated character in the film, especially as various aspects of her past pop up throughout the movie. Adams doesn't completely conquer the part but she muddles her way through some awkward bits with aplomb.

Affleck seems a bit bland as Holden, but he grounds the film nicely and gives us a character into whom we can easily project ourselves, which is much of the point; had Holden been more charismatic or strong, it would have been tougher to see ourselves in the part. As Holden's best friend, Jason Lee is a minor revelation. I absolutely loathed his crude and abrasive work in Mallrats, and though Banky is still a fairly obnoxious guy, Lee greatly tones down the personality and actually comes through as a believable, realistic person. Since I thought his acting in Mallrats was one of the worst parts about it, I was quite surprised to see how much I liked his work here; he makes the role convincing and sympathetic.

Speaking of the cast, I was curious to see how the oft-irritating Jay (Jason Mewes) would come across in this film. Obnoxious stoner Jay was a fun diversion in Clerks but became self-consciously abrasive and cringe-worthy in Mallrats. He manages to seem very tolerable in Amy, partly because we see less of him here than in any of the three earlier films. (Ironically, although Jay plays a bigger part in Dogma than in any of the other three pictures, he's most winning there - Smith gives him some great lines and Mewes actually delivers them effectively.) I also was happy to hear Jay mock some of the worst parts of Mallrats: his incessant cries of "snoochie boochies". After the excesses of the prior film, it was good to see Jay brought down to earth.

One very fun aspect of Smith's films comes from his very self-referential style, as touched upon by the "snoochie boochies" statement in the last paragraph. He loves to toss out references to characters and events from the other movies, which adds a whole extra dimension to the entertainment; you're rewarded for remembering parts of the different movies. Hey, maybe it's all a scheme to make us watch them over and over, but it's cool nonetheless, especially when the participants discuss characters played by the same actors in the other films (such as comments about Shannon from Mallrats, also portrayed by Affleck). The style could get annoying, but Smith keeps it modest enough that it works as a minor bit of fun.

That statement applies aptly to pretty much everything Smith's done: his films could easily become irritating, but for the most part, they remain entertaining, clever and witty. Chasing Amy certainly possesses its share of flaws, but it remains the most accomplished and affecting work he's done to date.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B/ Bonus A

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.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.7777 Stars Number of Votes: 9
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