Mallrats appears in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though I don’t expect much from semi-inexpensive 1990s movies, this one looked pretty good.
Sharpness worked fine as a whole. The occasionally wide shot could seem a bit tentative, and focus slipped for a couple of close-ups, but most of the flick delivered solid delineation.
I noticed no signs of any moiré effects or jagged edges, and edge haloes remained absent. With a good layer of grain, I didn’t sense any egregious noise reduction, and print flaws failed to mar the proceedings.
Colors worked well as a whole. The movie went with a largely natural palette that leaned slightly blue or pink at times, but not to a strong degree. The tones showed their 90s roots and never quite excelled, but they seemed more than adequate and represented the source.
Blacks felt dark and tight, while low-light shots brought nice clarity. Though not a visual showpiece, the Blu-ray made Mallrats look better than ever.
The film's DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio didn’t bring a tremendous mix, but considering the content of the film, it seemed pretty good. The soundstage offered a fair amount of activity in all channels, although the center dominated since the film's rather dialogue driven.
Still, we got a nice little image, with various ambient sounds emanating from the other speakers. The soundfield could seem a bit forced at times - kind of like Smith found a new toy after the extreme budgetary restrictions of Clerks - but it worked in the film's best interests.
Quality of sound seemed good. Speech remained fairly natural and always easily intelligible, but a few lines – usually those shouted by Jason Lee – became slightly edgy.
Music showed reasonable range. Low-end could’ve been stronger, but the mix displayed fairly positive fidelity.
Effects seemed realistic and clean, as those aspects of the presentation displayed no prominent distortion. This turned into a perfectly fine mix for a chatty comedy.
How did the 2020 Blu-ray compare to the DVD from 2005? Audio appeared warmer and more natural, while visuals offered clear improvements in terms of colors, sharpness and print quality.
The picture became a serious step up from that old DVD. Unfortunately, I never saw the prior Blu-ray version of Mallrats so I couldn’t compare to it, but I can’t imagine it looked better than the 2020 release.
Plenty of extras appear across this two-BD set, and Disc One opens with a running audio commentary from director/writer/actor Kevin Smith, actors Ben Affleck, Jason Lee and Jason Mewes, producer Scott Mosier and View Askew historian Vincent Pereira. Clerks presented a similarly large group but it was a problematic track, made worse by some bad production values that left much of the group nearly inaudible.
The commentary for Mallrats is a more professional affair and it's also a lot more entertaining. Actually, it's a lot of fun, and it's about a million times more interesting than the film itself.
Smith seems to be utterly incapable of presenting himself as anything other than fully honest and up-front, and that attitude carries through to the rest of the group in one of the bluntest tracks I've heard. So many commentaries after schmooze-fests, but not this one, as everyone's very honest about the film, and that helps make the chat very compelling.
The only disappointment is that they come close, but no one quite slams Shannen Doherty, though it's pretty obvious she didn't win any friends on the set.
The film can be viewed with or without a 12-minute, 31-second introduction from Kevin Smith. Newly-shot for this 2020 release, Smith discusses the movie’s failed release as well as its more successful afterlife.
Smith offers an entertaining view of Mallrats circa 2020. He overstates the success of 1996’s Biodome, though. He claims it made $30 million to $40 million, but it actually peaked at a mere $13 million.
A bunch of new features follow, and My Mallrats Memories goes for 29 minutes, 58 second. Here Smith discusses the movie’s inspirations and its path to the screen, locations, casting, editing, and the movie’s legacy.
Inevitably, we get a little repetition here, but nonetheless, Smith brings plenty of new content. Chatty and lively as ever, he makes this an informative piece.
Smith appears again in Mr. Mallrats, a 12-minute, 57-second tribute to producer Jim Jacks. Smith tells us about the life and career of Jacks, who died in 2014. Smith makes this a warm and engaging remembrance.
Blunt Talk brings a nine-minute, 59-second interview with actor Jason Mewes. He covers his performance and experiences during the film. Mewes gives us a good collection of memories.
Next comes Hollywood of the North, a 10-minute, 13-second piece that features PA Mark Har, prop maker Gordon Smuder, extra Jessica Sibinski, and location manager Bob Medcraft. They discuss aspects of their work on Mallrats.
For reasons unknown, “North” shows the participants in crude animated form. I don’t see the point of this, but at least the information becomes decent.
When We Were Punks goes for six minutes, eight seconds and provides a conversation with director of photography David Klein. He examines his relationship with Smith and his work on Mallrats as well as other flicks. Klein brings some good material, but the reel seems a little too brief.
Deleted Scenes span one hour, two minutes, 48 seconds. Lifted from prior releases, this collection mixes the cut footage with comments from Smith and Pereira.
While none of the scenes are funny, they're still interesting to watch, especially since Smith and Pereira let us know why they didn't make the cut. Really, the information about the making of Mallrats and Smith's first Hollywood experience is much more interesting than the film itself, so this compilation becomes a fun extra.
We follow this with eight minutes, 12 seconds of Outtakes and Behind the Scenes Footage. Some of this falls into the usual goofs and giggles category, but we get more interesting material as well. Look for alternate lines and other unusual bits.
During the eight-minute, 37-second Cast Interviews from the Original Set, we hear from Lee, Smith, Mosier, and actors Claire Forlani, Shannen Doherty, Jeremy London and Michael Rooker.
They chat about the shoot, the story, and the characters. We hear lots of praise for all involved and very little substance in this boring set.
More information from the director pops up in A Brief Q&A with Kevin Smith. During this nine-minute, one-second piece, Smith looks back at the film and also reflects on aspects of the 2005 DVD.
This is essentially a comedic piece in which Smith attacks himself and many others, including DVD fans – or “shut-ins”, as he describes us. This becomes a very amusing chat.
Also from 2005, we find a featurette entitled Erection of an Epic: The Making of Mallrats. This 22-minute, nine-second show includes old remarks from the set Smith, Lee, London, Forlani, Mosier, Doherty, and producer Jim Jacks, as they set up the then-high expectations for the movie.
From there the program looks at what happened next with information from Smith, Affleck, Jacks, Lee, Mosier, London, Mewes, Rooker, film critics Kenneth Turan, Janet Maslin, actors Renee Humphrey, Stan Lee and Ethan Suplee, director of photography Dave Klein, executive producer Cotty Chubb, casting director Don Phillips, TV/comic book writer Paul Dini, and producer Sean Daniel.
They chat about the movie’s initial failure and reactions to that, its initial positive Comic-Con screening, mistaken assumptions about its audience, problems making the leap from indie filmmaking to the big time, casting, bonding on the set, and the flick’s afterlife.
The latter subject lends a rosy glow to the piece, but there’s a lot of honest reflection on what went wrong with the project. That helps make “Erection” another interesting component.
In addition to the film’s trailer, Disc One concludes with a fun music video for the Goops' remake of "Build Me Up Buttercup". It offers Jay and Silent Bob in a "lesson" on how to make a cheap video, and it's easily wittier and more clever than Mallrats itself.
When we shift to Disc Two, we locate the Extended Cut of Mallrats. This adds 26 minutes to the theatrical version and runs two hours, one minute, 50 seconds.
Probably the biggest change appears at the start, as we get a totally different opening. It lasts 12 minutes, 25 seconds and sets up the movie in an alternate way.
This creates a subplot connected to an alleged assassination plot, as it appears that TS and Brandi try to shoot the governor of New Jersey, but this is all a mistake.
References to this event and its ramifications pop up frequently through the rest of the movie, and those snippets comprise a lot of the added running time. On the own, these bits are usually short, but they appear so often that they fill out a lot of time.
Otherwise, there’s not a lot of difference in the two cuts. Again, outside of the extended opening, the longer version adds bits and pieces to the original but nothing I would consider to be a big change.
Does any of this make a difference in the quality of the film? To my surprise, it does.
I still don’t care for Mallrats, and apparently Smith doesn’t think a whole lot of this cut. During an introduction, he refers to it as “The Version That Never Should Have Been”.
I disagree, as I think the extra footage fleshes out the characters and story. With the added breathing room, the movie flows better and doesn’t come across as so much of a crass assault. It still has the same cheap humor, but it doesn’t attack you in the same way, so it feels a little brighter and more engaging.
We also find an introduction to the extended cut. In this 11-minute piece, Smith and Mosier discuss the longer version and give us some notes about it. As usual, it’s funny and informative.
A third version of Mallrats appears on Disc Two via a TV Cut. It runs one hour, 25 minutes, 31 seconds and obviously offers an abbreviated take of the film, as well as a “censored” edition that alters the movie’s dozens of profane lines and removes two brief nude moments.
A handful of alternate shots appear as well. For instance, when TS first meets up with Brandi, she does a quick Superman imitation. Not many of thee occur, but they offer a few quick changes.
The other obvious alteration comes from Mewes’ performance, as someone else looped his not-TV-friendly dialogue. We find a mix of Mewes’ original lines and these replacements, none of which mesh smoothly, and that creates unintentional amusement.
Actually, other altered lines can be funny due to their idiocy. For instance, when Rene’s breakup letter says he has no dick in the original, the TV version reads he has no “depth”, so the scene now makes no sense.
Also, whereas Brodie thinks Rene dumped him because he farted during oral sex, the TV version changes “fart” to “vomit”. This seems bizarre, gross and nonsensical, so we get more unintentional amusement. Heck, the TV cut might be funnier than the original just because it’s so ridiculous.
Another major shift comes because the TV cut completely omits the discussion of the “stink palm”. Because it doesn’t introduce this concept, the scene in which Brodie stinkpalms Mr. Svenning now becomes befuddling.
Note that although we find a cut that ran 1.33:1 on TV, the disc presents it 1.85:1. Indeed, it uses the remastered version of the film seen on Disc One except for those occasional alternate shots.
This means the TV cut looks terrific most of the time, but I admit I’d prefer a 1.33:1 presentation for authenticity. Really, only people who grew up with this version will want to watch it more than once for curiosity, so why not reproduce it faithfully?
Yet another introduction from Kevin Smith accompanies the TV cut. It goes for four minutes, 24 seconds and brings Smith’s thoughts about this version of the film. He delivers the usual useful notes.
A Soundtrack EPK spans four minutes, two seconds. Here Smith and Mosier discuss the album and make this more interesting than the average ad.
A collection of Dailies take up one hour, 59 minutes, 35 seconds. Here we find multiple takes of various scenes and shots.
In theory, I should enjoy this compilation, as I like this sort of alternate material. Unfortunately, the dailies look as awful as awful can be.
Indeed, the quality seems so poor that this package becomes nearly unwatchable. I think I got a headache from the weird, ugly visuals on display. I’m glad the disc includes the dailies, but I can’t claim I enjoyed them.
Two Stills Galleries appear: “Behind the Scenes” (154) and “Comics” (14). The former offers the expected array of images from the production, while the latter shows the comic book covers used during the movie’s credits. Both add to the disc.
At least one Easter Egg pops up here. If you click right from “Dailies”, you’ll get a 52-second clip from Smith as he discusses that Mallrats has become an “Easter classic”.
The prior DVD provided at least two different eggs, and they may reappear here. If so, I couldn’t find them.
A few other extras from the DVD fail to reappear here. It drops a good featurette called “View Askew’s Look Back at Mallrats” and “Mallrats: The Reunion”. I don’t know why these fail to reappear, but it’s a disappointment.
In addition, the set comes with a booklet and a fold-out poster. My review copy didn’t include these so I can’t discuss them in more detail.
The “sophomore slump” hit Kevin Smith hard with 1995’s Mallrats. This flick earned an audience of supporters/apologists over the years, but don’t count me among them, as I think the movie stank then and it stinks now. The Blu-ray brings positive picture and audio along with a terrific set of bonus materials.
To rate this film, visit the DVD review of MALLRATS