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Chasing Amy: The Criterion Collection

Review Written by: Will Penley
Film: A+
Video/Audio/Extras: A-/A-/A

Directed by: Kevin Smith
Written by: Kevin Smith
Produced by: Scott Mosier
Starring: Ben Affleck, Jason Lee, Joey Lauren Adams, Dwight Ewell, Ethan Suplee, Carmen Lee, John Willyung
Buy it!, Buy it, rent it or skip it: Buy it!

"What's a Nubian?"

The time was 1997, just three years after Kevin Smith's first film, Clerks was released to undivided critical praise. Only two years before had Smith's sophomore effort, Mallrats been released to critical bashings and eventual tanking at the box office. (Though I don't see why, as it was a great film.) They had been to both ends of the spectrum and as the old adage says, "Third time's the charm." Enter Joey Lauren Adams, a woman who Smith had a relationship with for a period. Though the two did have a great time together, they couldn't have been more different. So after their breakup, Smith finally had something really personal to say and it came to us in the form of Chasing Amy.

Holden McNeil (Ben Affleck) and Banky Edwards (Jason Lee in an award-winning performance) are comic book artists from New Jersey. While out of town to attend a comicon (comic book convention for those of you not in the know), the two of them meet Alyssa Jones (Joey Lauren Adams), another much-less-successful comic book artist. After one meeting, Holden begins to have feelings for her. Hooper X (Dwight Ewell), a friend of theirs and also a comic book artist (you see the theme of this film, don't you?), invites all three of them to a club one night. Holden has hopes of having a romantic night with Alyssa and is prepared to do just that, but one little thing keeps him from it. She's a lesbian.

Kevin Smith has never let me down once (not even Jersey Girl) and here he has written one of the best screenplays, I believe, in history. I must also mention Jason Lee's work here for which he won an Independent Spirit Award. He gives a great performance and probably the best I've seen in any View Askew film to date. I really love this film and out of all of Smith's work, it's my #2 favorite (though it'll probably be moved down a notch upon the release of Clerks 2). A big "A+" for the movie. Now, on to the DVD. Criterion saw this film fit to add to their prestigious collection and they've indeed given audiences an impressive package. There's a new, digitally-remastered anamorphic widescreen transfer on the disc, which was supervised by cinematographer Dave Klein and it really looks great. There's some grain left in the print, but that's a given considering the film's low budget. The Dolby 5.1 audio track is also very good with all of Smith's trademark dialogue very clear. An "A-" for video and audio.

There's a nice amount of extras included on the disc as well. The first of these is an introduction from the director, which includes his apology for saying "F%@* DVD!" at the beginning of the commentary track (originally recorded for the laserdisc). Following that is the aforementioned commentary track in which Smith, producer Scott Mosier, actors Ben Affleck and Jason Mewes, associate producer Bob Hawk, Miramax executive Jon Gordon and View Askew historian Vincent Pereira participate (almost everyone you saw in "Snowball Effect: The Story of Clerks"). This is one of my all-time favorite commentary tracks evidenced by the fact that I listen to it every couple of weeks. A great listen.

There's ten deleted scenes (complete with cast/crew introductions) included on the disc and they're all very funny! One scene, featuring regular View Askew characters Steve-Dave Pulasti and Walt the Fanboy, could have easily been left in. An outtakes reel (with its own little introduction) has also been included. Worth a watch to say the least. Finally, there's a trailer for the film, but not the theatrical trailer (it's actually a home video trailer) and a "color bars" feature to help you tune your television's color settings just right. Even the color bars get an introduction! They're mad about introductions! Extras get an "A" and I hope View Askew (and Criterion) continues to release packages like this.

If you haven't seen Chasing Amy, you need to run out and buy it right now! Not to be missed!

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