Chasing Amy
***.8 GM
Starring: Ben Affleck, Joey Lauren Adams, Jason Lee, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Dwight Ewell, Ethan Suplee, Brian O'Halloran, Matt Damon

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BIAS ALERT: I dig the Kevin Smith vibe. I have to declare that before any review of a Kevin Smith movie, because true objectivity is rendered relatively impossible because of it. However, if there's any one of his movies that don't really need that admission up front, it'd be this one.

Clerks was wacky guys with no money being wacky. Mallrats was wacky guys with lots of money being wacky. The third time out, though, the whole Kevin Smith/View Askew krew finally made an attempt to get a bit more real, and a lot more interesting. Dogma tried to mix the interesting/serious with more of the wacky. "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" seems like it's an attempt to get all the wacky outta their system, which should be a goddamned blast.

This is the story of Holden McNeil (Ben Affleck), a semi-sheltered suburban indie-comic writer (hot damn for comic book movies!) that lives with his obnoxious best friend Banky (Jason Lee), who's also his inker (they assuredly do more than tracing). They write a silly book called "Bluntman and Chronic" based on those two stoner dudes they know in Jersey and hang around the circuit, where Holden eventually meets Alyssa (Joey Lauren Adams) and falls hard, only to discover she's gay. He doesn't stop falling, though... which leads to problems. jealousy, angst and true-ish love, as well as Holden coming up with the worst idea in the history of all stupid ideas to try and solve everything.

The performances are all pretty good. I've never been more interested in Joey Lauren Adams. Despite that baby-voice of hers that always hovers on the edge of irritating, she had several strong, real moments that worked really damn well, and a few shots that made me flutter a bit, which just seems wrong. Affleck's also good, delivering a great, heartfelt monologue to Alyssa about how he's a better person FOR loving her (although you can always be cynical and say 'the only reason he wanted her so much was the thought that he couldn't have her - the whole forbidden/impossible fruit scenario.' For the moment, though, we'll pretend true love exists). Jason Lee is a toned-down version of his character in "Mallrats," it may seem, with a lot more maturity, yet losing none of that "I'm not being an asshole, I'm telling the truth, asshole!" quality about him. Jay and Silent Bob are even given more depth, and Bob's meaningful monologue is really well delivered. Dwight Ewell as Hooper, the two straight boys' resident advisor on all things gay, is also an entertaining character, delighting in messing with Banky's head and being the sage sounding board for Holden... although his penchant for teasing Banky indirectly helps to cause the aforementioned worst idea in the history of stupid ideas (... yes, that includes fighting a two-front war in Europe, the removal of Peanut Butter Twix from store shelves for so long, "Smilk" and that one time I ate hot dogs with chocolate frosting. I'm not including "Godzilla 98" because that was a good idea with an offensively, horrendously fucking awful execution).

The main issue I had with it when it was released, and the problem I still have on some small level is that a lot of the confusion and issues with the characters could have been handled with a simple declaration of being 'bisexual.' The film managed to deal with that concept without ever calling it by name, thinking exclusively in terms of gay and straight, although perhaps a lot of bisexuals feel constantly stuck in between anyway, never completely fitting in with either orientation, maybe constantly bothered by the possibility of scorn/ostracization/etc. from either side of the fence. The quiet "why me, why this, why now" monologue from Alyssa, while a touching scene, seems a bit off, simply because she says the reason she opened the door to women was because of some lofty ideal about not 'cutting down your chances of finding that special person by half' when sticking to one sex or the other. It's always been my understanding that it's not a conscious choice like that - who you are attracted to is not something you can control. It's based on who inspires those chemical reactions in your brain and body - be it male or female or both. It's not like I could decide to be attracted to men just because I want to broaden my horizons and stand a better chance o' hookin' up for the long haul. I don't WANT to be hot in the drawers for Jennifer Love Hewitt, but it's not something I can change. It's this, along with the extremely naive and embarrassingly male questions Holden has for Alyssa about the whole concept of lesbianism that tends to reveal that the script was written by a Catholic boy from Jersey. He did a pretty good job with it anyway, though, considering.

Then again, I first saw this film with a bi friend, and she had no problem with it, so I'm probably just talking out of my lame straight honky ass. It's a good, interesting and funny and real movie.

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