Kevin Smith made a tiny, tiny film called CLERKS a couple of years back. On the surface, it was about a couple of guys who are best friends. One works in a convenience store, the other at a video rental. They have drawn out passionate discussions about everyday things. How many partners should a woman have, how many innocent people were killed when the death star blew up in STAR WARS, is smoking ok? The stores became the backdrop to two guys discussing things. It was still an enjoyable and at times hilarious film "Try not to suck any dicks on your way to the car". I'm cracking up just thinking about it. To see the improvement between CLERKS and CHASING AMY, it's clear that if Kevin Smith stays honest, he's in for a long ride in movies.
Holden writes a comic book which has become successful called "Blunt and the Chronic", pot-smoking superheroes. They get high and get to kick bad guys asses. It's selling very well. They go to a signing convention where at a panel on minorities, a militant black man is preaching about black representation in the comics and Sci-Fi. Holden's sidekick, Banky, stands and says "What about Lando Calrisian?" from STAR WARS. The man begins a tirade about how STAR WARS is the most racist piece of film ever made. Blonde haired, blue eyed Luke Skywalker, a nazi poster boy, kicks Darth Vader, a man in black, back to the stone age. When Dave has the nerve to ask what is meant by "Nubian", the man takes out a handgun and shoots him as the crowd flees from the room. After they're gone, the militant black man becomes a flaming queen and goes over to talk to the now recovered Dave and Holden. He couldn't sell any comics if he didn't go through this militant thing and he'd be ostracized for sure, if his readers knew he was gay. Things are not always as they seem.
He introduces Holden to Allysa, another comic creator. She is bubbly, attractive, smart, and sharp as a tack. They begin deep conversations, she invites him to a club and in hilarious fashion, uncovers her own sexual orientation. She's a lesbian, or a man's fantasy of what a lesbian should be. In spite of this, they become friends and he, of course, falls in love with her as every straight man in the audience does as well. How does he go about telling her, while saving their friendship. In a speech dripping with from-the-heart feelings and romance, he declares his love, countering all of her soon to appear objections. It is a perfect speech. It is a dishonest speech. No twenty something man has ever uttered such a well thought out speech. But I was lured in and silent.
This film says a lot about men, but I'm not sure I know what it says about women. The issue of number of partners comes up again, but in a much larger degree. This movie is told completely from the side of a straight male, who is cocky enough to assume that once a lipstick lesbian meets the right guy, she can simply switch all of her feelings, indeed her soul--who she is--to suddenly love someone with a penis. This is the same ridiculous fantasy that has at least one girl-girl pictorial in every issue of Penthouse. "Well, if I was there, they'd be servicing me, not each other. They just need a man, or at least a penis". When Holden and Allysa first begin their relationship, she is a good lesbian role model. Holden has all his questions answered about the technicality of losing one's virginity, does it require penetration. She maintains she lost her virginity, but has never been with a guy. He finds that this doesn't meet his criteria. Their discovery of each other is absolutely romantic. His buddy Dave can't take it. He's jealous of the time spent with her, and he thinks that Holden will have his heart broken when he falls in love. "She's lived things, done stuff, that we've only read about in books" he says to his head-over-heels roommate. But all this "I'd switch teams for the right guy" stuff is not the entire truth. Smith has a couple of surprises in store.
All of the leads are good. Holden is smooth and vulnerably, Allysa is saucy and attractive to both sexes. She talks like a real person, not a movie type woman. Banky is quiet. Jay and Silent Bob return from CLERKS, and Bob ceases his silence. There are small passages of brilliant comedy. The flaming black man becomes the nubian warrior whenever a young brother wants his comic signed. As Allysa, Adams is very good, but shows her limits in several crying/yelling scenes. And in one of the final scenes, in front of a videotaped fish tank, there is a nearly preposterous idea discussed. I had a great time at CHASING AMY, I laughed out loud at the comic relief, and smiled widely at the romance.
I enjoyed my second viewing almost as much as the first. Joey Lauren Adams' acting was better than I remembered. The low budgetness of the film shows a little more when you've already seen it. Affleck's Holden seems more dicky than I remembered. His inner turmoil at her past and his solution is just plain looney. The lesbian backlash has started. CHASING AMY isn't realistic by any means, but it is probably how a man in Holden's situation would see things.
Joey Lauren Adams
Cinematography by David Klein
Written, Edited, and Directed by Kevin Smith
Theater, Theater, VHS
This Was Written On May 19, 1997
This Was Revised on May 30, 1997
This Was Revised on January 10, 1998
7.30 A Consensus of 40 Critics
Joey Lauren Adams
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copyright © 2000 Michael Warner Cummins
Most recent update: 11/1/00
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