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First-Time Watch Review - Chasing Amy

by Dana Andersen. Published Fri 22 Jan 2021 11:09, last updated: 22/01/21

Chasing Amy has become known as one of Kevin Smith’s greatest movies, but for a fan of Smith watching it for the first time, does it still hold up?

As the third movie in Smith’s View Askewniverse, it’s certainly very different from Clerks and Mallrats, while maintaining the same view of finding hilarity in the normality of people’s lives.

Holden and Banky, authors of the popular Bluntman and Chronic comic book, are our main characters.

Played by Ben Affleck and Jason Lee, both are the typical over confident, under socially developed men, but through a combination of likeable actors and well written character development, they manage to force the audience to root for them in spite of their many flaws.

We are soon also introduced to Alyssa, leading those aware of the Askewniverse to realise it's the Alyssa we hear so much about in Clerks, though they never mentioned she’s a lesbian.

This throws a real flaw into the plans of Holden when he realises, he’s in love with her, and so the meat of the movie begins to sizzle.

With Banky feeling pushed away and ignored, he digs up the dirt on Alyssa, revealing things about her only Clerks fans and her high school class mates previously knew, and Holden can’t take it.

For a modern audience used to adventurous sex being much less of a taboo than it was back in the day, it seems pretty ridiculous for Holden to kickstart the breakdown of the relationship over Alyssa’s sexual exploits from almost a decade before.

Thankfully it means we get many scenes of the couple arguing, each time it’s beautifully tense right up to the explosion, and in every argument, Alyssa makes the exact points you want her to make, leaving Holden to look like the jerk he is.

Despite coming across as being consistently in the wrong, Holden still manages to worm his way into your heart, making you want to shake him and tell him to stop being so stupid!

Throughout the movie Banky just gets worse, though it’s understandable given he’s losing his friend. When he’s not spouting every homophobic slur you can think of, he’s generally just moping about his life not being perfect.

Because being the tracer, sorry, inker, for a popular comic book just isn’t good enough for this guy.

Vaguely implying that it’s internalised homophobia due to being gay himself definitely doesn’t excuse his behaviour, but the fact that Chasing Amy was released in 1997 helps. It definitely detracts a little from the movie given current standards, but it’s not too hard to overlook.

Jay and Silent Bob’s arrival is at just the right time to be a comedic release from all the heartbreak. Jay’s never ending word vomit is expected and as brilliantly funny as always, while Silent Bob’s long story not only gives context to the title, but is also a great bit of back story for the usually mute character.

Unfortunately, we soon happen upon one of the most uncomfortable and awkward scenes in cinema history, in which Holden proposes a threesome between himself, Alyssa and Banky.

Although it’s unpleasant to sit through, it's also something you just can’t pull yourself away from either. The audience is drawn in and held there by their emotions just as much as the characters are.

Alyssa is consistently the only voice of reason, but Holden’s over confident naivety and lack of self-awareness, keeps us rooting for the both of them, and makes the inevitable break up all the more disappointing.

The ending, set one year later, sees a return to comic con for the characters to reconnect where they began, rounding things off nicely for viewers despite not giving us a definitive ending.

Chasing Amy is a refreshingly tender departure from many of Kevin Smith’s previous films, with just enough of his style for it to still feel like one of his movies, such as the car scenes filmed from the back seat, almost to the car scenes between Randall and Dante in Clerks.

Many scenes show the films age and have the potential to make modern audiences uncomfortable, but any Kevin Smith fan will find it easy to accept and move past those moments in order to enjoy the overall film.

It hasn’t aged as well as other movies, but the talented actors, heartfelt writing and overall tenderness of the movie cement it as a movie everyone should see at least once.


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