Welcome to the JOE-DOWN, a back-and-forth movie review blog by two snarky newspapermen named Joe from Minnesota, Joe Froemming and Joe Brown. We will take turns selecting a movie — any movie we want — and review it here. For this installment, Froemming picked “Mallrats.”
The Movie: “Mallrats”
Starring: Shannen Doherty, Jeremy London, Jason Lee
Director: Kevin Smith
Plot Summary: (From IMDB) Both dumped by their girlfriends, two best friends seek refuge in the local mall.
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 55 percent
Froemming: The cinema of the 1990s taught me some valuable life lessons I will never forget.
- “Pulp Fiction” taught me how to give an adrenaline shot to someone who is overdosing.
- “Heat” taught me that more movies should star both Robert De Niro and Al Pacino.
And today’s JOE-DOWN pick taught me that the most romantic thing in the world it proposing to a lucky lady at the Universal Studios theme ride, when Jaws pops out of the water.
It is kinda crazy it took us this long to get to Kevin Smith, one of my favorite filmmakers who has made one of the worst movies I have ever seen in “Yoga Hosers,” but we are not reviewing a movie about Nazi sausages. We are reviewing a movie about slackers hanging out in this ancient place of commerce we used to call “malls,” before Jeff Bezos made Americans somehow more lazy.
We watched “Mallrats” this week, a film that serves as both a sequel and prequel to Smith’s debut film, “Clerks.” So, he was ahead of old George Lucas on that front.
Brown, my callow friend, why don’t you give us your first thoughts as I scratch my ass and then offer someone some chocolate-covered pretzels.
Brown: Callow? That’s the nicest thing you’ve ever called me.
Froemming: It means frightened and weak willed.
Brown: Well, that’s a bummer. But it’s still the nicest thing you’ve ever called me.
So my introduction to Kevin Smith came “Benjamin Button”-style. I knew of “Mallrats” and “Dogma,” but the first Smith movie I ever saw was “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back” when I went with my cousin to a pre-opening screening while vacationing in California as a teenager.
Then, I got into “Dogma” because it was one of those movies that made high schoolers think they were being deep by watching something with so much religion around it. “Boondock Saints” was another one of those movies at my high school because my group of friends couldn’t see past the Latin tattoos to see that “Boondock Saints” is terrible.
“Mallrats,” I didn’t get into later. I think the only prime Kevin Smith movie I haven’t seen yet is “Chasing Amy.”
As for the movie, I think “Mallrats” is tied for “Clueless” for the most 90s-ass movie ever. Hell, this made me wanna ask my brother if he still had his Hypercolor shirt.
Froemming: And we have watched “Hackers” AND “Pulp Fiction!”
While I play Sega hockey with the Hartford Whalers, lead us off, Froemming.
Froemming: We begin with a tale from our hero Brodie talking about his cousin Walt’s issues with getting cats stuck in certain body cavities. This sets the tone for not only the movie, but Kevin Smith’s filmography: Pop culture with a lot of dick and fart jokes.
After a comic book inspired credit sequence, we meet TS and his girlfriend Brandi (proving even at this point in time, people named their children off the drink that led to their birth), whom are about to head to Florida for a vacation. Brandi can’t, since TS killed poor Julie Dwyer with bad advice: Saying TV adds weight to how you look, and poor doomed Julie was to be a contestant on a dating show produced by Brandi’s father, Yondu from “Guardians of the Galaxy.”
She died in the YMCA pool, mid-backstroke!
Fun note: It is Dwyer’s funeral that Dante and Randal attend and defile in “Clerks.” Smith was doing cinematic universes before old Marvel was.
Brown: I did make up my own lore where after his attempted game show went up in flames, Mr. Svenning decided to follow some of Tim Curry’s terrible advice.
There, Mr. Svenning turned blue from radiation, took up the name Yondu and took up bounty hunting and thievery to pay the space bills. Because, despite Tim Curry’s dream, space became corrupted by capitalism.
Because TS inadvertently killed someone and acts indignant about it, Brandi decides to dump his ass. At least that’s how I think it went. I was so enamored about how bad an actor Brandi is that I blanked out part of this scene. Like, I’m sure Claire Forlani got better but she was rough in this movie.
Froemming: She stars in a movie on our list of films to review as well: “Meet Joe Black.”
So TS, not caring he helped strike down Julie Dwyer in her prime, runs off to his buddy’s place. Only Brodie Bruce is in the same situation TS is in: He got dumped by Shannen Doherty that morning as well. But given her history, I think old Brodie Bruce dodged a bullet there.
Brown: With expanded universes all the rage in Kevin Smith’s world, is Brodie a part of the “Beverly Hills 90210” universe? Furthermore, is “Mallrats” canon for the “My Name is Earl” universe for having both Jason Lee and Ethan Suplee in both? We’re getting into some Doc Brown time travel (REDACTED) here.
Froemming: Not sure, but I do know “Mallrats” exists in the Marvel Cinematic Universe because in Stan Lee’s cameo in “Captain Marvel,” he is reading the script for this movie.
Layers upon bull(REDACTED) layers, my friend.
Brown: While TS is an insensitive prick who drove a woman to death, Brodie is just a lazy goon who spends his time playing video games and obsessing over comic book sex organs.
… It was like a living mirror for you and I, Froemming.
Froemming: The shock of recognition between us and the characters of Brodie here and Randal in “Clerks” is not lost on me. I think these movies helped mold me into the dipshit I am today.
Brodie’s crime beyond laziness and passing gas during intimate moments is that he never introduced Rene to his mother, who he insists hates her. I’m no relationship expert, but this is a real crappy thing to do to a significant other.
So, to drown their sorrows, they
go to a bar like adults and drink their problems away go to the mall! The Eden Prairie mall right in Minnesota, though in this universe it is in New Jersey.
Brown: Yeah, that made for a weird moment seeing the Eden Prairie sign. It’s like how “Zack and Miri Make a Porno” was originally slated to take place in St. Cloud before the Weinstein Company axed that idea.
I’m not going to make a Harvey Weinstein joke here.
Froemming: Hey, St. Cloud couldn’t sully it’s reputation with a movie with “porno” in the title. This is Minnesota’s drunkest city, after all. That means something!
Brown: So yeah, TS and Brodie opt to drown their sorrows in Orange Juliuses and Mrs. Fields cookies. As a pre-teen, that sounds pretty sweet. As an adult, that’s… well, that still sounds cool to me. I don’t drink a lot and those cookies were pretty bomb.
But something is afoot as a stage is being erected at the mall. Brodie doesn’t like it, so without knowing what’s going on, he looks for a pair of hooligans to ruin everyone’s good time.
Enter future prophets Jay and Silent Bob.
Froemming: It is amazing how after almost 30 years of making movies, Jason Mewes is still as bad an actor as he was in “Clerks.”
Brown: To be fair, I love the story about Mewes being as professional as possible in “Dogma” because he didn’t want to piss off Alan Rickman.
Froemming: Jay and Silent Bob went from very shady, kinda terrifying drug dealers in “Clerks” into lovable catch-phrase spewing pop culture icons we have today. It is odd.
Brodie and TS ask them if they can knock down the stage, thus putting a temporary end to this show. Lucky for them, these two must have a day off from peddling weed and coke, because they were planning on doing that anyway.
But they have one giant obstacle: LaFours, the most feared mall security officer in the region. Also, LaFours has been in a shocking amount of movies we have watched as a bit player, according to Sven-Ole Thorsen’s IMdB page!
Brown: Hell, he’s been in quite a few JOE-DOWN movies: “The Running Man,” “Ghostbusters II,” “Lethal Weapon,” “Last Action Hero,” “Heat” and “Ready to Rumble.” He’s getting into Travolta levels there.
While I want to like Jay and Silent Bob here, Jay is harassing kittens in a pet store and although I’m allergic, I do not abide by that.
It’s here we meet another of the memorable side characters: Willem. And this man is tortured because he cannot see the image in one of those 90s-ass Magic Eye pictures.
This drives him to an insanity that’ll one day lead him to white supremacy.
Froemming: This is also the character who has the nickname “Snowball” in the previous movie. So, he has some dangerous quirks and disgusting kinks.
And look, he wasn’t the only character in the 1990s who has issues with those 3D posters.
There is a reason they lost their popularity quickly. Probably because people just destroyed the things due to their inability to see the schooners.
Brown: The scene where Willem mocks the kid who calls it a schooner by calling her a dumb bastard, that always tickles me.
We also meet two more side characters. This time, it’s ladies that Kevin Smith kind of objectifies.
The first is Tricia, who is a 15-year-old who is writing a book about men’s sex drive from ages 14-to-30 and is filming all these encounters like she’s Dennis Reynolds. So cool, Kevin Smith, you’re making a teenager a sexual object and a statutory rape joke later.
And then there’s Joey Lauren Adams’ character, Gwen, who is trying on underwear and topless in the first two scenes we see of her. As a teen, I would have enjoyed this. At 33, not nearly as much. It’s gratuitous, like in “Airplane,” except it was funny in “Airplane.”
Froemming: I feel like “Chasing Amy” was an apology to her for making her show her boobs in this.
So Silent Bob keeps crashing into Gwen as she is trying on clothes, proving my point that people who look like Kevin Smith are perverts. #ChangeMyMind
Brown: Oh no, I’m right there with you.
Froemming: The first is when our two drug dealers try to take down the stage by knocking a pin out with a sock full of quarters. Look, I love the Rube Goldberg series of events in this movie with Jay and Silent Bob’s plans to take down the stage, but the kid glaring at Bob with his toy truck is probably one of the funniest parts of the whole movie. I still crack up at the idea of a 4-year-old holding such contempt for a 25-year-old bearded fat guy that he purposely rolls his toy to trip him up and possibly kill him.
Brown: We need to also address our other villain in this movie: Shannon from Fashionable Male.
He’s played by future Academy Award winner Ben Affleck. Yes, one of the actors in this movie went on to win an Academy Award. What a world!
Froemming: Won the Academy Award while filming “Dogma!”
Brown: Ben earned that Razzie Redeemer Award in 2014.
Froemming: But we also saw Affleck in “Batman V Superman: Dawn of Yawning.” So, I think a mistake was made somewhere in the universe. Like when the Cubs won the World Series in 2016 and now we are in the Darkest Timeline.
Brown: Look, we both know Affleck’s finest role was “Good Will Hunting 2: Hunting Season.”
And yeah, Affleck’s character is that of an arrogant prick who’s quick to violence toward Brodie since he is going after Rene and is REALLY into butt stuff. Also, New Kids on the Block, but we’ll get to that later.
Froemming: Wait, I thought he just liked making love in the back of Volkwagens?
Brown: I’m cutting around the subtext, my friend.
Froemming: Anyway, TS and Brodie have trying issues to discuss about life, the universe, everything.
Asking the tough questions that have plagued philosophers since the dawn of the Golden Age of DC Comics.
Brown: I will say that I always do enjoy the nerd talk in Kevin Smith movies between this and the contractors dying on the Death Star talk in “Clerks.” I can’t say that I’ve ever gone into fictional character sex organ talks but I appreciate that someone is that much of a nerd to do so.
Froemming: I am starting to think the premise of the JOE-DOWN owes Smith residuals.
Brown: Not before “How Did This Get Made.”
Anyhow, we find out that the stage at the mall is being set up as the stage for Brandi’s dad’s game show “Truth or Date,” because the man doesn’t have an original bone is his body or his bare ass that we were subjected to seeing at the start of this movie. Since Mr. Svenning is at the mall, TS confronts him about Brandi breaking up with him.
Umm, Brandi is a grown-ass woman. This isn’t some high school stuff where your parents don’t want you dating someone. Dad doesn’t like TS, but Brandi dumps TS of her own accord because he’s an asshole that pretty much talked a woman into killing herself and blew it off.
Froemming: If you find it odd that Yondu hates TS for basically no reason, and some of the ADR is off or weird in this movie, you have a reason to. There was a whole plot cut out of the movie with TS embarrassing Yondu in front of the governor of New Jersey with an accidental assasination attempt. It was a stupid plot, it is in the extended cut of the movie, but it clears up some of the issues with Yondu hating TS with the rage of a million fiery suns. It also explains why some weird voice overs make zero sense.
Brown: It would have been great when Yondu brings over security to escort TS away from him, he instead whistles and TS dies via mind-controlled arrow.
Froemming: Now, Brodie sees a chance to talk to his old flame by having TS distract Shannon while Brodie forces Rene into a stalled elevator. This seems like a scene that was added at the personally request of Harvey Weinstein. It is creepy, doesn’t really fit with the characters, and they just randomly have sex? It makes ZERO sense.
Brown: (Deep sigh) Yep. Again, haven’t seen “Chasing Amy,” so I hope that was the movie that Kevin Smith learned how to write women.
A short bit after this rendezvous, Shannon catches up with Brodie and beats the hell out of him. Not getting Brodie’s sense of humor, Jay takes the man seriously when Brodie says the Easter Bunny jumped it, leading to Jay and Silent Bob assaulting the Easter Bunny in front of a bunch of kids.
Look, every time I watch this scene, I think the guy under the bunny head sounds like James Woods and it makes the scene even more funny. Like, this is what you get for “Scary Movie 2” and your (REDACTED) Twitter, James!
Froemming: OK, so to speed things along, Yondu has LaFours plant space drugs on TS and Brodie, so they get arrested by — mall security? Unfortunately, LaFours is not as quick as Walt Flannigan’s dog, because Jay and Silent Bob just knock him the hell out with a (REDACTED) baseball bat! And the others with some “Star Trek” nonsense. I hate “Star Trek,” so I don’t care what it is called. Our heroes escape to the Dirt Mall while Jay and Silent Bob evade capture with Batman’s grappling gun.
Say what you will about stoners, I guess they are good at either making cool things or buying movie props.
Brown: High school and young adult stoners are good at making things. Namely bongs out of objects like food and pop bottles.
So while at the flea market, Brodie talks TS into visiting a topless fortune teller. We get it, Kevin Smith, you like boobs! I do as well but man, you come off desperate.
Froemming: I am not sure if that was really Kevin’s call. Until “Zack and Miri,” I don’t recall seeing many boobs at all in his movies after this. Maybe another Weinstein note?
Brown: He wrote AND directed this movie. I’m not giving him a pass.
So the topless fortune teller says some stuff that convinces TS that the thing he should do is go win Brandi back. All the while, Brodie gives TS crap about being obsessed over this girl.
Hey guy, he just got dumped THE SAME DAY this is all going on. He wanted to marry Brandi. There’s a grieving process, you selfish (REDACTED)!
Froemming: Yup. Brodie is the worst friend to have after a breakup. Comics books and video games are fine, Brodie, but human contact is a lot better.
With a renewed sense of purpose, these two head back to the Eden Prairie Mall, where just an hour before they were complicit in the assault of a mall security guard with a weapon. Love conquers all I guess, even the fear of felony conviction in an assault case.
Their plan is to get on the show. But before we get to that, let’s talk about Brodie bombarding Stan “The Man” Lee with questions of superhero anatomy. Because this kind of fascination is right out of “Mind Hunter.”
Brodie is standing around, looking at lingerie, when the comic book legend who took all the credit for Jack Kirby’s work shows up to give old Brodie love advice.
Brown: For an obsessive comic book fan, how did Brodie not recognize Stan Lee’s voice the moment he started talking. AND, when Brodie looks at him, it takes him a good two minutes until he’s like “OH (REDACTED), you’re Stan Lee!”
Brodie lost all his comic nerd credentials at that very instant. No talk of The Thing’s penis would redeem him.
Froemming: Well, Stan Lee in 1994 was not the cultural icon he is today. Also, I don’t think my brain would register right away if Stan Lee was giving me unprompted love advice at the Eden Prairie Mall. I’d think I was hallucinating if that happened.
Brown: I’ll counter with two points: A. Brodie knew Stan was at the mall and barely made any big deal about it. B. Yeah, Stan Lee wasn’t quite the icon he is/was now. But, as a religious comic book collector, it’s reasonable to think that Brodie could identify a comic book legend.
Whatever, he’s a faux-nerd like those people who wear black-rimmed glasses with no lenses.
Moving on… TS and Brodie make their way onto “Truth or Date” after Brodie gives Mr. Svenning a stomach virus for eating chocolate-covered pretzels from his ass hand.
Froemming: I will neither confirm or deny if I have ever stink palmed someone or have done this:
Brown: And they enlist Jay and Silent Bob to get two of the contestants stoned to the point of unconsciousness. I’m guessing they took a cue from Denzel Washington in “Training Day” and laced the joints with angel dust.
AND, Brodie decides the way to win back Rene is to have Tricia grab the tape she shot with Shannon to show in public. Look, I get comeuppance as a plot point, but we’re talking statutory rape here.
With that said, let’s go to the game show, which, for my money, is the funniest part of the movie.
Froemming: Brodie has some lines in this that I use randomly in everyday conversations, such as “Jesus Christ (INSERT NAME), there’s some things you don’t talk about in public” after saying something revolting and they comment on it. I also like to call old people “Richard Dawson.”
This is the highlight of the movie, and you’re right, the funniest. You put a character of chaos like Brodie into a very rigid situation, you get gold. And we get it when Brodie comments on Gil Hicks’ (a cousin of Dante Hicks from “Clerks,” I am a nerd) lame ass answers to Brandi’s game show questions.
Brown: Gil’s mullet is the stuff of legend, man. He does look like a guy who would pay for sex. Like Brodie said, we can smell our own.
Now, like Brodie with Stan Lee, how the hell does Brandi not recognize TS’s voice immediately? He’s not disguising it at all.
I guess what people don’t know about Kevin Smith’s movie universe is that all the characters suffer from a hearing impairment where all voices sound the same and you can’t differentiate between people.
Froemming: It is called Voice Blindness, Brown, and it is a very serious condition!
Brown: Is it as serious as voice immodulation problems?
Froemming: And Brodie is a hit on the stage, cracking wise, telling strange airplane stories about his cousin Walt. And finally Brandi realizes her two longtime friends are on the show, thus defeating her Voice Blindness once and for all!
But that is not all. We have Tricia getting her tape to Silent Bob to rig for the studio audience. Is that sex tape aired on TV too? I have a feeling that is a pretty big felony crime.
Well, after TS wins Brandi’s heart again, Brodie woos Rene with his onstage antics, which included a very disgusting story about that airplane trip Walt took. But Shannon is not some New Jersey schmuck and his Bahstahn accent comes full force, and he is going to beat the snark out of Brodie Bruce once and for all!
Brown: Until the cops come and arrest Shannon and give Brodie a free shot at the guy, which I would think is abuse of power by the cops.
Froemming: *checks out newspaper articles of the past 25 years* That doesn’t seem likely.
Brown: All the while, TS and Brandi are making out on the stage and honestly, I don’t think I’ve been more grossed out by two people making out. They’re, like, two Yoshis trying to swallow the other one’s head.
The TV execs at the game show suggest that Brodie have his own talk show, but first, Brodie wants to bring Rene to dinner at his mom’s house. So they’re back together.
In the credits, we find out that TS and Brandi got married at the “Jaws” part of the Universal Studios tour. And, Brodie becomes the new host of “The Tonight Show,” presumably until Jay Leno wanted it back. Hopefully it was a more celebrated tenure than Conan O’Brien. Tricia’s book is a best seller (and she kisses LaFours at a signing, which is a story that needs an explanation) and Shannon is getting raped in jail because LOLs… Willem eventually saw the sailboat.
And, Jay and Silent Bob meet a chimpanzee which is an actual plot point in their own movie, “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.”
Did this review feel scattered? Well, that’s “Mallrats” for you. Let’s Jedi Mind Trick our way to recommendations.
WOULD YOU RECOMMEND?
Froemming: If you could not tell by my endless knowledge of Smith’s movie universe, then I will say it, yes, I love this movie. This is probably my favorite movie he has made.
Brown: Kevin Smith has better movies but I find this movie entertaining at the very least. So yeah, watch it.