Chasing Amy (1997)

8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 8/10

One of Smith's smarter movies

Some questionable story paths, not sensitive to lesbian groups

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Chasing Amy

Studio:  View Askew Productions

Genre(s):  Comedy/Romance

Release Date(s):  April 4, 1997

MPAA Rating:  R


Holden, you’re in for a big surprise…

Holden McNeil (Ben Affleck) and Banky Edwards (Jason Lee) write the wildly popular Bluntman and Chronic comic which is taking off.  When Holden meets Alyssa Jones (Joey Lauren Adams), the creator of Idiosyncratic Routine, it appears that he’s met the love of his life…unfortunately for Holden, Alyssa is a lesbian.  Despite breaking through Alyssa’s shell, Holden finds himself not being able to come to terms with Alyssa’s past.

Written and directed Kevin Smith, Chasing Amy is Smith’s follow-up to the generally panned Mallrats in 1995.  The movie received mostly praise from critics but also angered some in its portrayals of gays and lesbians.  A special edition was released on Criterion (Criterion #75).

I was pretty impressed with Chasing Amy by comparison to Mallrats.  While Mallrats was goofy and playful, Chasing Amy was smarter and more thought out.  Rewatching the movie, it doesn’t seem as smart, but it still shows another level for Kevin Smith.


“Black Rage!!!”

I can definitely see the criticism of Chasing Amy.  It still has that stand-up style dialogue but it is a bit tempered with an actual plot.  The lesbian complaints are a bit different.  If he had simply made her a bisexual, the idea of her “switching teams” would be a bit more feasible, but she identifies as a lesbian…most of the objections resulted from the idea that it was a choice for her character and lesbians in general.  Smith really needed to be more defining on Alyssa’s reasoning and less focused on her identifier.  I do find Smith’s “solution” to the problem with Holden’s sit-down also a bit unrealistic and weak.

This is the first time that Smith’s had a cast of decent actors.  Affleck was still rather young at the time and has gotten better.  Lee basically repeats his Brodie character from Mallrats with explosive comic book discussions.  While Joey Lauren Adams does an ok job, her speaking voice is kind of hard to make it through her crying “speech” outside the hockey ring.  I like the small role by Dwight Ewell as the militant (and gay) Hooper X.  The movie also features most of Smith’s other players including a slightly less annoying appearance by Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith) and other regulars Ethan Suplee and Brian O’Halloran.  There are also cameos by Casey Affleck and Matt Damon.



Smith also has a lot more control of the content in this movie.  The film looks good and sounds good (except maybe that dopy music that they even mocked in Jay and Silent Bob Strikes Back).  The pop culture references and visual cues work better in this movie due to the setting in the comic book world.

If Smith had shown something similar or better than Chasing Amy following Chasing Amy, I think it would have proved that he actually has some good director chops.  There was an attempt to delve into controversy again with his next film 1999’s Dogma (which skewered religion), but what he got wrong in Chasing Amy came back again didn’t improve on his product.  Maybe Smith has another great story in him, but I feel he probably peaked with this movie…which is a shame because he does show potential if he doesn’t trap himself by believing his own hype.

Related Links:

Clerks (1994)

Mallrats (1995)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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