Release Date(s)1995 (June 27, 2023)
Studio(s)View Askew Productions/Gramercy Pictures (Arrow Video)
- Film/Program Grade: B-
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: A-
- Extras Grade: B+
After Kevin Smith’s newfound indie and moderate commercial success with Clerks, his follow-up would continue his unique brand of dialogue-driven, dirty joke-telling, foul-mouthed characters in Mallrats. With a larger budget to work with at a major Hollywood studio, as well as impeccable production support, the film unfortunately didn’t garner the same level of commercial prosperity or critical appreciation, bombing immediately upon release. Though it was treated as a joke by Smith for years (until his more recent off-beat but less appreciated films came into being), Mallrats later gained an enormous cult following on home video. Retroactively now considered a classic of the era, it often gets lumped together with similar films like Empire Records and Dazed and Confused—films with youthful characters, hip soundtracks, and quirky sensibilities.
T.S. (Jeremy London) and Brodie (Jason Lee) are two schlubby guys from the suburbs with girl problems. Brandi (Claire Forlani) breaks up with T.S. after having proved himself to be selfish when she reveals that she has to cancel their vacation plans to help her father Jared (Michael Rooker) with his fledgling game show, while Rene (Shannen Doherty) dumps Brodie for being a lazy layabout who’d rather read comic books and play video games than introduce her to his mother. To drown their sorrows, they head for the local mall to hang out and stew over how to win their girlfriends back. While there they run into the less than savory clothing store manager Shannon Hamilton (Ben Affleck), T.S.’s ex-girlfriend Gwen (Joey Lauren Adams), 15-year-old writing savant Tricia (Renee Humphrey), hidden picture-obsessed Willam (Ethan Suplee), imposing security guard LaFours (Sven-Ole Thorsen), and Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith). All roads converge when T.S. attempts to win Brandi back from her disapproving father and stop her from appearing on his tasteless dating game show, while Brodie confronts Rene after realizing that she’s now dating Shannon Hamilton, who is self-admittedly using Rene for his churlish desires.
Mallrats is a true snapshot of the period it was made in. Like all films of this type, it doesn’t hold up when it comes to the trends, the clothing, and even the music, but the characters are strong enough to carry it through. A minor issue with it are its two main love stories. Because there are so many things going on tonally, it feels false, whereas in Smith’s follow-up Chasing Amy, it works perfectly. However, Mallrats is sillier by design, more in line with Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, which Smith would make two films later. That said, it’s still charming and totally wins you over, even if certain elements don’t entirely work. Jason Lee steals the film as Brodie, his breakout role, and even veteran actors like Priscilla Barnes who, in her case in particular, pop up in small but memorable roles. Lest we not forget the appearance of Stan Lee, whose presence is so significant that 2019’s Captain Marvel would make reference to it decades later.
Mallrats was shot by cinematographer David Klein on 35 mm film, finished photochemically, and presented in the aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Arrow Video, who previously released the film on Blu-ray in 2020, have returned with the same 4K restoration of the original camera negative on Ultra HD, now graded for High Dynamic Range (HDR10 and Dolby Vision options are available). The extended cut features additional content also scanned in 4K from a 35 mm interpositive, and both versions have been approved by both Kevin Smith and director of photography David Klein. Arrow’s Blu-ray release was quite a step up from its predecessor, and the UHD ups the ante with an even tighter grain structure, marginally improved contrast, and a high bitrate. The HDR grades don’t quite blow the gamut open on the film’s color palette as much since it was already rich to begin with, but it does improve upon black levels, soaking up more detail in the shadows and boosting the nuances in clothing, skin textures, and environments. The dirt mall sequence in particular benefits from this due to the various stages of lighting throughout the scene. Everything appears organic and clean, with nary a speck or scratch in sight, and the overall image is stable throughout. There are still jump cuts in the extended version due to the loss of trimmed frames while editing the film, some more obvious than others, but regardless, this is the definitive presentation of both versions going forward.
Both versions of the film feature audio in English 5.1 and 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio with optional subtitles in English SDH. The boldest part of the film’s soundtrack is its use of hard rock and grunge music. It’s powerful and enveloping when it occurs. Dialogue exchanges are mostly clear and precise, though some of the set-based audio and use of overdubs can be obvious. Sound effects have surprising impact as well, particularly whenever Jay and Silent Bob are up to mischief. Both tracks exhibit the same amount of fidelity, though the 5.1 does open things up a bit. They’re otherwise similar sonically.
The 2-Disc Limited Edition of Mallrats on 4K UHD sits in a black amaray case alongside a double-sided poster featuring re-creations of Jay and Silent Bob’s stage destruction blueprints from the film and a 20-page insert booklet featuring cast and crew information, Mallrats: The Perfect Example of a Sophomore Slump? by Philip Kemp, and restoration information. The insert is double-sided, featuring new artwork by Robert Sammelin on one side and the theatrical art on the other. The slipcover features the same new artwork. The following extras are included on each disc:
DISC ONE (THEATRICAL VERSION)
- Optional Introduction by Kevin Smith (HD – 12:31)
- Audio Commentary with Kevin Smith, Scott Mosier, Vincent Pereira, Jason Lee, Ben Affleck, and Jason Mewes
- Mallrat Movie Memories (HD – 29:58)
- Mr. Mallrats: A Tribute to Jim Jacks (HD – 12:57)
- Blunt Talk (HD – 9:59)
- Hollywood of the North (HD – 10:13)
- When We Were Punks (HD – 6:08)
- Deleted Scenes with Introductions by Kevin Smith and Vincent Pereira (SD – 62:50)
- Outtakes and Behind the Scenes Footage (SD – 8:12)
- Cast Interviews from the Set (SD – 8:39)
- Erection of an Epic: The Making of Mallrats (SD – 22:09)
- Q&A with Kevin Smith (SD – 9:01)
- Build Me Up Buttercup Music Video (SD – 3:38)
- Trailer (SD – 2:23)
DISC TWO (EXTENDED VERSION)
- Optional Introduction by Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier (SD – 11:00)
- Soundtrack EPK (SD – 4:01)
- Dailies (SD – 119:35)
- Behind the Scenes Still Gallery (HD – 147 in all – 2:27)
- Comics Still Gallery (HD – 14 in all – :14)
- Easter Egg (HD – :52)
In the introduction to the theatrical version, Kevin speaks on his surprise and appreciation of the film’s cult following. The vintage audio commentary for the film’s original Collector’s Edition DVD release is just as informative and irreverent as it was twenty years ago. Mallrat Movie Memories and Mr. Mallrats interviews Kevin again. He recalls his experiences making the film, including the arduous casting sessions, and shows his appreciation for his loyal producer friend Jim Jacks. Blunt Talk features an interview with Jason Mewes in which he speaks on his love for the experience of making the film. Hollywood of the North contains audio interviews with some of the lesser known cast and crew members speaking about making the film in Minnesota, which were conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic and have been set to animation. When We Were Punks interviews David Klein about shooting the film with very little experience. Many of the Deleted Scenes were put back into the extended version of the film. Erection of an Epic is a documentary on the making of the film from the aforementioned original DVD release. There are also nearly two hours worth of Dailies sourced from a very poor VHS copy. The Easter Egg, which can be found by clicking right when Dailies is selected, is a brief interview snippet with Kevin in which he talks about how the film has become an annual Easter watch for some.
Inexplicably, the TV version with the optional introduction by Kevin that was included in Arrow Video’s Blu-ray release is absent, for whatever reasons. The live footage shot during the recording of the audio commentary from the original Collector’s Edition DVD release is also missing, as are a few things from the 10th Anniversary DVD and Universal Blu-ray releases, including the Mallrats: The Reunion: Tenth Anniversary Q&A, the View Askew’s Look at Mallrats featurette, and a collection of eight Easter eggs.
Mallrats is still fun and enjoyable movie twenty-eight years after its release. It’s not perfect on all sides, but it’s a cute romp with likable characters and a fun setting. Arrow’s previous Blu-ray release offered a nice upgrade with excellent A/V quality and a bevy of bonus materials to sort through. Their 4K UHD upgrade mostly exceeds it, but losing the TV version brings it down a slight notch. However, it’s still superior in terms of image quality. For long-time fans, it comes highly recommended.
- Tim Salmons