78 of 92 people found the following review helpful
I have a "love-hate" relationship with Romantic Comedies. I really enjoy a decent one - and a couple of examples I'd consider "decent" are When Harry Met Sally and While You Were Sleeping. I also recognize that there is probably no other movie genre that is as suitable for "date night": It's where men and women's interests overlap.
Bad Romantic Comedies can be really tedious things, and many of my pet peeves about movies come from this genre. For example, my LEAST favorite romantic comedy cliche is the moment 10 minutes before the end of the movie where our loving couple has THE "big fight" (often over nothing or something completely stupid or forgettable), followed by one of the characters tearing off to the airport just so that the OTHER partner will have the sudden revelation that they've *made a big mistake* and go tearing off for the airport as well - usually arriving only moments late. (With an equally cliche-filled smooching reunion that follows minutes later, before the end credits roll.)
But I digress. NONE of these horrid cliche's fill this movie, which is full of almost believable characters and completely believable heartache.
Kevin Smith has now created a half-dozen films, and while I would classify all of them somewhere between "watchable" and "excellent", "Chasing Amy" remains his masterpiece to date.
Holden (Ben Affleck) and Banky (Jason Lee) are 30ish buds-since-High-School who have grown into the guy fantasy job of writing a hit comic book. They get to alternate working on "Bluntman and Chronic" with making personal appearances at fan conventions where they get paid to sign autographs.
At one of these conventions they hook up with another "graphic novelist", Dwight Ewell's Hooper X - who is constantly educating Holden and Banky about being black and being gay. Ewell steals all of his scenes because Hooper is a perfect mix of bravado and angst which sufficiently masks his inner conflict for being black and gay.
Hooper introduces our heroes to Alyssa Jones, portrayed in a career-making performance by Joey Lauren Adams. Alyssa is cute, funny, talented, witty and Affleck's Holden falls for her in a big way. He interrupts his usual routine with Banky just to meet up with Alyssa before finding out at the end of the first act that Alyssa is a lesbian.
A moment to discuss the language, themes and realism of the movie. Like the Kevin Smith films that preceded it, Chasing Amy uses language that is frank and honest and uses raw street vernacular to describe many things, in particular sex. I have heard many criticisms about the story contained in Chasing Amy. Joey Lauren Adams doesn't fit lesbian stereotypes, and among those who seem to know, it is ridiculous to consider that a lesbian might be interested in a man - even if (perhaps especially if) the man is Ben Affleck. These things must be accepted to follow the movie. Smith makes it easy. In truth, the language and the issue of homosexuality are side issues in what is essentially a truly unique Romantic Comedy.
Like Smith's first feature Clerks (Collector's Series) the central conflict in "Amy" concerns one character's difficulties accepting the "history" of the other romantic interest. To say more would spoil the pleasure you would derive from enjoying the flick yourself, but it has to be stated that Smith's resolution involves heartbreak, plenty of humor, no cliches and no airports.
If you think you might enjoy an honest romantic comedy that includes street language, frank discussions about sex and gay characters, "Chasing Amy" fills the bill exactly.
33 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on August 5, 2000
It's no surprise that this movie was never the box officesuccess that it should have been: this film is much too deep and truthful for average audiences. Kevin Smith provides some incredible insights about people and relationships, but most folks don't want to think when they go to the movies and would much prefer to see pulpy schmaltz about characters overcoming their idiotic superficial differences and living happily ever after.
I won't sum up the movie as other reviewers have done a great job of that here. Two things that I wish to comment on, however: 1) The "F" word is used extensively here, some will say overused, as is explicit sexual dialog. If you're watching with children (despite the R rating), you are hereby warned. 2) This film has two of the most touching and emotional moments I've seen in a contemporary movie: Holden's declaration of love to Alyssa in the car (Affleck's delivery is so honest and true and impassioned that you will practically feel his nervous relief when he finally tells her) and Alyssa's tearful speech when she realizes that she must leave him (this portion of the script is brilliant and Alyssa's deep hard-hitting dialog could only have been written by someone who's been there).
On to the technical aspects of the disc -- The audio is absolutely perfect: not too loud, not too soft, the dialog/music/sound effects are all perfectly balanced. This is one of a small handful of DVD's where you can set the volume once and you don't need to constantly adjust it. (DVD producers should take note of this! There's nothing more annoying than having to crank up the volume because the dialog is too soft, only to have the house rattle once the music or sound effects kick in.) The video is a bit grainy at times, something I find very surprising coming from a contemporary Criterion release. This is minor, considering the excellence of the story itself.
The deleted scenes are interesting and funny. The commentary is good, but because it's a group effort, it can get annoying when everyone's trying to speak at once or when they don't stick to the on-screen action. Small doses are recommended for this one. Finally, the outtakes are funny, but too few.
In all, it's rare to see such an intelligent contemporary movie. This is a DVD worth owning.
37 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on August 7, 2000
I think Kevin Smith has done some great work here. I enjoy pretty much anything he does, but I was especially impressed with this film. In my opinion, what makes "Chasing Amy" so appealing is the way the characters view relationships (friends & lovers). It's not the ...and they lived happily ever after... man/woman easy answer thing, beer and poker on a Saturday night with the guys. This story is as real as life and quite compelling in its honesty. I could understand Alyssa's struggle to come to terms with this twist in her sexuality, Banky's desire to wedge Holden and Alyssa apart, and as much as I wanted to deck Holden when he couldn't get over the 2 guys thing (you'll have to see the movie to understand that) I could understand his motivations, too. You don't walk away from this thinking, "<insert character> was a total jerk!", you walk away thinking, "<insert character> acted like a jerk, but that could easily have been me in the same situation".
Don't let this review fool you, though. This movie has some great comedic moments as well, and of course, Jay and Silent Bob put in an appearance. I think Jason Lee really shines in this picture, though it's hard to see that given all the outstanding performances. Definitely worth seeing.
22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
So far in Kevin Smith's film career, "Chasing Amy" is his "Driving Miss Daisy" of movie achievements. He went from sardonic, sophomoric comedy to earthly, emotional realism, putting forth an intensely magnified story of sexuality and the fragile boundaries of love. His writing maturated into a tale well told involving common debate ground for customary issues, the ongoing battle of the sexes and the dire consequences of traversing to the other side of our ironclad gender coalitions.
The ill-fated tale begins with two twenty-somethings working together on their well-renowned comic book "Bluntman and Chronic". Banky Edwards (Jason Lee) and Holden McNeil (Ben Affleck) are lifelong friends, and what better way to spoil their friendship than to bring a woman into the picture. Enter Hooper X, the author of a pro-black comic with a pronounced hedonistic and riotous reputation that belies his true nature: he's as flamboyantly gay as they come. Hooper X is stereotypically but nonetheless hilariously portrayed by talented beau Dwight Ewell. He garners most of the laughs in this film to keep Smith's deeply emotive content from getting too serious. He acquaints a fellow comrade from the gay community to Banky and Holden at a comic book convention, unbeknownst to three of them that this mere introduction is the beginning of a whirlwind of emotional conflict.
The name of the whirlwind is Alyssa Jones, and upon their first meeting, Holden is on a mission to claim her. It's not until he and his wisecracking companion are invited to an outing at a gay bar does Holden realize Alyssa is a bona fide lesbian and his conquest for a breathless fling is shattered. Unfettered by her conspicuous sexual agenda, Alyssa pursues a warm and trusting friendship with Holden, spending time with him over the months, generally palling around and having a good time. After a stretch, Holden recognizes that his feelings for Alyssa are beyond platonic, and this is the point in the movie when everything straight becomes askew (no pun intended).
Banky consistently intercedes, knowledgeable of Holden's threshold of tolerance for relationships. He advises him that his newfound adoration will not have a pretty ending, but Holden and Alyssa are bull-headedly driven by their honest affections and defy the odds, including the coarse rebuff from her once-loyal lesbian clique. Eventually, provided the complicated circumstances and Banky's mistrust for Alyssa's sordid past, their relationship unravels and abruptly ends over a heated argument and a woeful awareness of the impossibility of their happiness.
Smith's writing and direction is in top form in his third installment of young adult films, reprising his references to notorious characters of the past, including Alyssa Jones herself, Brandy Spenning, and the unintended necrophiliac Caitlin Bree. He ties all of his stories together closely, showing us what a small world it really is, especially in New Jersey. It also comes as no surprise that Joey Lauren Adams was entitled to the lead role, being Kevin's girl and all (at the time). She actually proved to be a greater actress than I thought, admidst her nasal screaming and profane dialogue. Jason Lee has gotten better over the years, but it's like he's revisiting his Brody routine with all the endless diatribes he goes on. His character is witty, but Smith is stereotyping his acting ability every step of the way by always making him the sideman. Jason Mewes is much improved here, abating his hyperactive methodology for a more subdued and genuine disposition. Smith even poked fun at his own work by mocking the ridiculous "Snootchy Bootchie" dialect that Mewes popularized. A lot of the actor's lines are Smith's self-effacing humor at work, and they clash perfectly amongst the love and heartbreak of the movie.
Lastly, we have Ben Affleck as the sensitive chap, a warm and welcome presence after the total slimeball he played in Smith's horror of a screenplay "Mallrats". That material was well beneath him, and thank God Smith made it up to him by offering him the part of Holden. Ben is obviously the diamond in the rough here, fine-tuning the level of interest in the audience with his natural-born charisma. Let's face it: this man is gorgeous, a headturner. There's no way you can take your eyes off him, nor ignore that beautiful smile. He was perfect for this part and made a significant connection with male and female viewers. Women will watch this film and wonder, "Where the hell can I find a man like THAT? "
To sum all the parts, this is a very worthwhile film and can touch a lot of people, especially if they've loved and lost for whatever reason at some point in their lives. This is far from cinematic genius and I don't think Smith will ever be capable of creating a masterpiece, but his raw sincerity and whole-hearted approach is meaningful and direct. That alone is enough to help one gain a new or amended perspective of life, love and art.
34 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on February 21, 2000
This is a truly excellent movie. It is the best View Askew production yet. It has a touching story,lots of hillarious jokes, and one of the best endings ever. This movie shows Kevin Smith can take it to the next level. He gives a realistic look at relationships in the 90's yet still displays the adolescent humour that made his two previous films so enjoyable. There are great performances by all the main characters. Joey Lauren Adams earned a well deserved Golden Globe nomination for her work. Jason Lee won an Independent Spirit award for his role as the overprotective buddy of Ben Affleck. Ben Affleck gives his best performance so far as Holden, the man questing after Alyssa(Adams). The film also features a great soundtrack. Although none of the songs were written for the movie, each one fits the mood of the scene as if it were tailored just for that scene.
43 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on July 6, 2000
The story of this film is a personal one for writer-director Kevin Smith and it's no wonder that it's his best effort to date--a great, warm film about relationships & more obscurely, a reflection on his movie career. A comic book artist named Holden McNeil (Ben Affleck) falls for a Lesbian from his hometown in New Jersey. He's old school in his ways of love & life and happens to mix it up with the more interesting crowd. At the beginning of the picture--a scene that was finally cut--Holden and Banky (Jason Lee), his best friend/roommate, receive a verbal bashing from two comic book store owners who despise their work. Kevin admitted lifting much of that dialogue from a negative review of "Mallrats" (which had studio exec hands all over it and failed I think because it tried to be a comic-book action movie.) "Clerks" (his first movie), "Chasing Amy," & his latest "Dogma" are all down-to-earth, personal movies that are funny, filled with wonderful, inspired dialogue, and unfold more like stage plays than celluloid --he decides on a location to put his characters in and has them talk; it doesn't much matter if they're in a kitchen or at a hockey rink.
There's a scene in "Chasing Amy" when Holden is telling Alyssa (Joey Lauren Adams) he'd "like to get back to doing something more personal like [his] first book." This could just as easily be: "I'd like to get back to doing something more personal like our first movie."
"When are you going to do that?" Asks Alyssa.
"When I have something personal to say."
"Chasing Amy" is that movie. Indeed, Kevin Smith put much of himself into this picture and the result is his funniest, smartest, and most dramatic work. As Holden becomes close friends with Alyssa, Banky feels rejected. He wants him to stop fooling around with Alyssa and "sign off on the whole cartoon thing," but mainly he doesn't want to lose Holden. It's also interesting to note that "Clerks" became an animated series for a short time and it's possible much of the subplot came from Smith's own feelings about selling-out his art for the big bucks (which also can be construed as his decision to make "Mallrats" the way he did). I like the subtle gestures between Banky & Holden and admire their friendship. This is Ben Affleck's best role. He doesn't seem as confident & charming in it as he does in some of his more recent roles. He's goateed and appears to be a little more bulky and chubby in the face--even his voice and his manner of speaking make him seem older. His character is average yet poetic, he makes you believe the conclusions that he comes to, as absurd as they may seem to others. They're are quiet, touching moments between characters with & without words. In a scene that'll never see the light of day, Banky holds Holden in his arms after he comes to a crossroads with Alyssa. I would've like to have seen it. It's just as much a movie about male affection (not necessarily gay either) as it is about being completely in love with a person.
Jason Lee shines--he has a natural gift for comedic timing. In a typical romantic comedy, he'd by the poor schmuck sidekick who gets shunned, but his character is just as crucial to Holden's life as the woman he loves. And as Alyssa, Joey Lauren Adams is full of emotion, spontaneity, and charm.
Smith's camera doesn't move often & the critics tend to knock him for it--who cares? He makes his movies fine and I've always said he's a good voice for the subculture of Generation X intellectual slacker-types. Mainly "Chasing Amy" consists of a series of wonderful moments focusing on the growing relationship between Alyssa and Holden & the deteriorating relationship of Banky and Holden. Then several key scenes of emotional fury that are so well written and acted and reveal so much that it elevates beyond a straight comedy and it becomes entirely Kevin Smith's movie--a perfect expression of being crazy & completely wrecked in love, which Holden undoubtedly is.
Hooper is the voice of reason & wisdom--the gay black man, who, to sell his comic book, "White Hating Coon," pretends to be a militant Black Panther-esque speaker when he's anything but. He seems to understand the three-way situation plainly, but he's also on the outside looking in and when you're in love your mind is a complicated mess.
Wanted or not, Holden also gets "advice from the `hood" when Jay & Silent Bob meet him at a local diner (they're the inspiration for his and Banky's popular comic book, "Bluntman & Chronic"). He gives him guidance in the best way a person can--he tells him a story that echoes his own and hopes he catches a clue--He doesn't. And after a serious examination of his individual relationships with Banky & Alyssa, he suggests something both funny, unexpected and sincere.
I always get the impression that when a director tries to make an enjoyable movie that will be well-received, it usually isn't. It's when they put it all on the line and make a picture altogether theirs that people respond to it. I've seen "Chasing Amy" God-knows-how-many-times now & still every time I sit down to watch it I'm touched, I still smile at some point in nearly every scene, I still get weepy-eyed. I wish every time that I could crawl up on that red coach, go to sleep, and wake up in this world.
With "Chasing Amy," Silent Bob becomes less of a comic book super-hero, and more like I'd imagine Kevin Smith to be in real life, and when the big guy finally opens up, he says what he wants to say perfectly.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on December 14, 2009
Blu-Ray, done right, will show all the warts of a film. In this case, CHASING AMY was shot on a larger 16mm format called Super16 and then blown up to 35mm. The natural grain of Super16 will be even larger blown up to 35mm and no doubt that some of that natural grain is apparent on this new Blu-Ray. However, Miramax has seen fit to noise reduce the image a bit in an effort to please people who have no clue what grain is and why it is important. The result is a slightly softened look, but one that is noticeably superior to the older DVD releases. I think Miramax would have served this film better had they stayed away from filtering the grain, but at least they didn't overdue it (examples of that are releases such as PATTON, ZULU, PAN'S LABYRINTH, HAIRSPRAY).
That being said, the Canadian release is grainy and looks sharper, but the compression methods are inferior, so grain is reduced to mpeg artifacting and that results in an artificially sharper image. In the end, the Miramax release is the one to buy and we know it won't have a re-release any time soon as this is from a new 2k master supervised by the cinematographer (who admits he has not seen the actual Blu-Ray release. Directors and cinematographers typically approve a transfer, but that transfer can then have the grain reduced or filtered for BD without their knowledge and that happens a lot).
Fans of the film who already own the DVD should upgrade if they have the spare cash and they can get it at the 35%+ discounted price. If money is tight, hold off until the price comes back down. Waiting pays off. Sometimes staying away from a favorite film for a few years and then going back to it results in a wonderful viewing experience. I stopped viewing HIGHLANDER on DVD years ago, knowing it would hit Blu-Ray at some point. It did (in England) and when I sat down to watch it in HD on a 71 inch screen I was blown away. What a revelation. It was like coming home again.
In the case of CHASING AMY, it had been five or more years for me. It was a wait that made viewing the film again all the more enjoyable.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
I *loved* this movie -- it's a warm, joyful, and very funny exploration of love, and the things we choose to hide in order to be loved by the ones we want. Affleck's intelligence, earnestness, and romanticism make Armageddon look like a bad dream, while Joey's the feisty heroine we girls wish we were, and Jason Lee takes a relatively thankless role and turns Banky into a wholly sympathetic, understandable, confused, and lovable loner who's desperate in the face if being displaced by his best friend's first real love affair. (Prediction: One of these days Lee will leave Affleck in the dust.)
It's a great film -- wonderfully written and acted, and the characters' declarations of love are surprisingly sweet and literate, and worth going back a track or to on that DVD button for a second viewing.
But the "special edition DVD" is a rank disappointment. Sure, it's loaded with stuff (most of it from the previous Criterion laser release from years ago -- ironically, the commentary opens with a loud diss by Smith & co. on the 'fad' of DVD's and how they will quickly fade), but too bad most of it bites.
The Director's Commentary is the biggest surprise -- it's awful.
While I drooled at the idea of listening to someone as smart and funny as Smith is commenting on his film, what I got was a barely coherent mumblefest from Smith, Mewes, Affleck, and buddies. (I mean, come on, this from the Smith who once beautifully analyzed "A Man for All Seasons" for the New York Times?) The guys instead spend most of the two hours making noises at one another, and are evidently not even watching the movie they're supposed to be commenting on. The group sounds blitzed, most of the commentary has nothing to do with the film (and Mewes especially is in "Jay" mode, embarrassingly unaware of what's going on onscreen in front of them, a fact Smith and Affleck exploit throughout the commentary).
I love the movie, and don't think anyone should miss it. But I spent the extra bucks on the "special edition" and felt robbed. Don't make the same mistake, and spend the extra bucks on a "special" edition that's frankly not so special. (Until they bother to re-record the commentary on a day when everyone's caffeinated or sober, at least.)
Just my 2 cents. ;-)
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on December 6, 1999
This is not a movie about gay people; this is a movie about confused people.
All three main characters have complex backstories and are strikingly well portrayed. As for the story, it is NOT a story of lesbian lust for a man, as some other reviews below would have you believe. It's a story of three people trying to come to grips with who they are and what they want in friends and lovers.
This movie is especially funny if you have already seen Clerks and Mallrats. Even if you haven't, though, the story is touching and interesting enough to reel you in and keep your attention. Well worth your time, and your money (just don't let your impressionable kid see it -- there's no nudity but plenty of raunchy sex talk).
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on February 3, 1999
Watching Chasing Amy for the first time, I was awestruck by Joey Lauren Adams and Ben Affleck's beautiful tale of curiousity, true romance, and betrayal. By far the most honest of any "romance" flicks I have ever seen, Kevin Smith writes with such honest elegance, that anyone can relate to the struggle between best friend and partner. Though Chasing Amy is filled with surprise and laughs, there is also a subtle moral tone to it. Maybe Smith is trying to supress his own relationship he once had with a woman such as Adam's character, or perhaps he went through the struggle of being the best friend, played by the talented Jason Lee. Either way, Amy is both amusing and endearing to watch, and one will laugh wholeheartedly at Affleck's first real encounter with Adams when he finds out a little something that sets them apart most definitely. But, in the end Amy is truly about friendship, and no better way to put it than Smith himself, the master of unpredictable screenwriting.