tek's rating: ½

Chasing Amy (R)
Criterion; IMDb; Kevin Smith Wiki; Miramax; Rotten Tomatoes; TV Tropes; View Askew; Wikipedia

Caution: spoilers.

This came out in 1997, though I'm not sure when I first saw it. It's the third movie in the View Askewniverse, or whatever you call it, but it's possible I saw it before the second movie, "Mallrats." It's also possible- in fact I'd say a bit more likely- that I first saw it some time after I saw the fourth movie, "Dogma." So, whatever, either late 90s or early 00s. And I didn't watch it again until 2013. All I really remembered about it was that Joey Lauren Adams played a lesbian, and some guy fell in love with her. And I remember not really liking the movie much. Certainly nowhere near as much as I liked the first movie, "Clerks." I hoped that watching it this time, I'd like it more than I did before, and maybe I kinda did. But I still don't like it as much as I feel I probably should. The movie has the same kind of cleverness, the same witty if coarse banter that's found in all of Kevin Smith's movies. I'm not comfortable with people in real life or in movies engaging in raunchy conversation, and this movie is even raunchier than Smith's other movies (which is saying a lot). So that's part of what turns me off about the movie, but there's more to it than that.

Anyway, um... the three main characters are played by Adams, Ben Affleck, and Jason Lee, all of whom were in the second movie, "Mallrats," but they're playing different characters in this movie. Affleck plays a guy named Holden McNeil, a comic book artist whose best friend and co-artist is Banky Edwards (Lee). We first see them at a comic book convention, where they meet up with a friend and fellow artist named Hooper. Through Hooper, they meet Adams's character, Alyssa Jones (who we like), who is yet another comic book artist. Before long, Holden starts really liking Alyssa, and he thinks she's into him. But later he finds out she's gay. (Which I don't really understand why he didn't know that, because I'm pretty sure Hooper had alluded to that fact when he first introduced them, even if it may have been interpreted as a joke, or maybe the allusion was too oblique. I dunno.) Whatever, after finding out, he's a little freaked, but they soon become really god friends, anyway. But Banky isn't happy about Holden and Alyssa's friendship, and he becomes increasingly antagonistic.

Eventually, Holden admits to Alyssa that he's fallen in love with her, which naturally pisses her off. But then she ends up dating him, because she's in love with him, too. This is what bugs me about the movie even more than the raunchiness of the dialog. It makes it seem like homosexuality is a choice, which is obviously a bad message for a movie like this to send. Still, the explanation she eventually gives Holden kind of makes sense, on the surface, but when you think about it, it really doesn't. Basically, she first got into girls because she didn't want to cut her options in half when looking for "the one," which once again makes it sound like a choice. Moreover, she did cut her options in half; it just changed to the other half. She says falling in love with Holden made her realize that, but I mean... how could she not have realized that all along? But I guess this little epiphany of hers proves she really is bi, not gay. Which makes more sense than the alternative. Although I can't help thinking it's a bit of a double standard, because most people, whether heterosexual or homosexual, are necessarily limited in their options. I mean, if she was willing to be with Holden in spite of being gay (which the movie continues to make it sort of seem like she is), one would think he should be equally willing to consider the possibility that he could fall in love with a guy, in spite of being straight. And I guess he might be willing to do so, but I doubt it. And I'm sure most people wouldn't be willing to do so, because most people are not bisexual. (Nor do I believe in anyone just "experimenting," or anything like that. You are gay, or you are straight, or you are bi. I am not capable of believing in the idea of anyone being unsure of their own orientation. I don't care what anyone's orientation is, it's not a choice and it's perfectly natural, but dammit... you must know what your orientation is.) So... I'm just confused by the fact that the people in this movie are so confused about matters that I consider entirely straightforward.

Anyway, enough of my ranting. Holden eventually learns something about Alyssa's past that bothers him. He doesn't want to let it bother him, but he can't help it, and it derails their relationship. Later, he meets up with Jay and Silent Bob (characters from the first two movies), who were the inspiration for his and Banky's comic book, "Bluntman and Chronic." Bob tells a story from his own life that provides this movie's title. And it makes Holden realize he needs to get over his issues regarding Alyssa, if he truly loves her. And he comes up with a way to do that which is just ridiculously stupid and counterproductive. And I guess that's all I want to say about the plot. I won't spoil how it all turns out.

Anyway, I think everyone did a really good job of acting, even if I couldn't help feeling like Holden and Banky were basically surrogates for Dante and Randall from the first movie. (And, hell, I could also say they were surrogates for T.S. and Brodie from the second movie, which is particularly noticeable with Banky, since Jason Lee had played Brodie.) The movie's funny, but not nearly as funny as the first two movies. And it's not as quirky, either, which is why I put my review under "serio-comedy" instead. I should say I actually like that the movie is less funny and quirky than its predecessors, in a way. It does make it more honest, I guess, more realistic and dramatic. But that also makes it more painful to watch. And I just can't help disagreeing with certain aspects of it, which makes me feel that, for all its cleverness and honesty, it's less insightful than the other movies (in my humble opinion). I feel like it's just wrong, which is a good thing in the sense that people are often wrong in real life. People are often stupid and hurtful, even when they have the best of intentions. But it causes me pain when I see anyone, real or fictional, saying and doing things that I don't understand and can't accept, especially when in general I like those people. It's hard for me to really like or understand anyone, so the more I do, the more it hurts when they do something I don't understand. Which I guess makes me not well-suited to enjoy a movie like this. Even if I can recognize its quality. And make no mistake, there are things I believe the movie gets right. And hell, it's entirely possible that I'm wrong about the things I can't help feeling it gets wrong....

seriocomedy index
View Askewniverse
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Clerks * Mallrats * Chasing Amy * Dogma * Clerks: The Animated Series * Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back * Clerks II