Mallrats (11/10/12) – Nostalgiathon

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Movie Two Hundred Fifty Seven

In Mallrats, after being dumped by both of their girlfriends, two friends head to the mall.

TS Quint (Jeremy London) and his girlfriend, Brandi Svenning (Claire Forlani) are about to head to Universal Studios where TS plans to propose when Jaws pops out of the water. Instead, Brandi has agreed to be on her father’s game show, “Truth or Date”, and breaks up with TS. Meanwhile, Brodie (Jason Lee) gets dumped by his girlfriend, Rene (Shannen Doherty) for being too juvenile. The two friends meet up and Brodie decides they should go to the mall for solace. At the mall, they discover that “Truth or Date” will be filming there later and they ask Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith) to ruin the stage in an effort to win Brandi back.

Throughout my freshman and sophomore years of high school, Mallrats was practically on a repeating loop so I have decided it was perfect to cover for Nostalgiathon. The dialogue was reenacted countless times and entire scenes could be staged at the drop of a hat. Mallrats had everything a teenager could ask for – comedy, action, romance, magic-eye posters, sex, comic books, NHL All Star Hockey, etc. Mallrats not only delivers on all those fronts but everything Jason Lee says in the film is pretty much Oscar-worthy… OK maybe that’s going too far.

In high school I was only on the cusp of being a movie nerd but I did notice some Mallrats deficiencies. Even though nearly every line feels like it was written down and spoken, if that makes sense. Kevin Smith is a talented writer and comes up with great dialogue, but in Mallrats, it feels very scripted. Also, Jeremy London bugs the hell out of me, he always has. Even though Smith is lauded as a great director, his work lately has not been so hot and I think he has a talent, but his direction in Mallrats is nothing spectacular. Still, Smith knows his audience for Mallrats and delivers on all the dick jokes you could want.

Mallrats is easily my favorite Kevin Smith movie and it probably always will be. It hasn’t aged particularly well, it has a very mid-90s vibe to it. Plus, who remembers chubby Ben Affleck these days? I likely won’t be watching Mallrats again anytime soon, but it was nice to be able to watch it and still be able to mime the dialogue in my head as the movie played out.

I give it 4 “it’s not a schooner, it’s a sailboat”s out of 5.

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The Incredibles (8/8/12)

The IncrediblesMovie One Hundred Eighty Five

Two former superheroes forced into retirement are called back into action with the whole family in The Incredibles.

Bob (Craig T. Nelson) and Helen (Holly Hunter) Parr, also known as Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl are former Supers now living as civilians to hide their identity. They have three children, Violet, Dash, and Jack-Jack. When Bob and friend Lucius Best (Samuel L. Jackson) aka Frozone start getting back into the Superhero game at night, they are approached for actual Super missions again by a woman named Mirage. One mission on an island ends up being a trap, masterminded by former Mr. Incredible fan and wannabe sidekick Buddy (Jason Lee), now known as Syndrome. When Mr. Incredible is in trouble, it’s up to his Super family to come to his aid and together they must save the day.

It’s films like The Incredibles that make a studio like Pixar special. It’s a film that could have easily been a cheap thrill with no heart just to push toy sales but it is really something special when you give it a closer look. The conflict of a restricted superhero working a lousy day job and having to hide his secret identity is simple genius. The fact that Bob sees his actual identity more as Mr. Incredible than Mr. Parr is also handled with great care and heart. The family situation of Supers is also simple but it works so well that it’s easy to gloss over just how perfect it works here.

Brad Bird, who was also the creative force behind the also amazing Iron Giant, has a real knack for setting up a story that seems so simple but is made remarkable by the tangible things like the characters, the story, and the art/animation but what identifies his films as masterpieces is the more esoteric “soul” of the film that instantly connects you with the characters and plot. We don’t need origin stories here, we just need to know superheroes exist. We relate with the issues that the Parrs have to deal with even though we aren’t Supers. Heck, we even understand why someone like Syndrome would go to such lengths to act like a Super, and his means aren’t necessarily evil so much as misguided. The Incredibles does all of this and makes it look easy.

To match the level of the film itself, the blu-ray presentation blew me away. I had long owned the DVD version and enjoyed it, but the blu-ray looks and sounds 10 times better than I remembered. The Incredibles isn’t a film that I could see myself watching too often, it’s the type of film that I regard as a special treat every few months. Long enough between viewings so that the experience is fresh and that rush of excitement is almost new each time. The Incredibles should be the film that Pixar is remembered for.

I give it 5 classic Mr. Incredible posters out of 5.
(I prefer his blue suit, actually)

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