Chasing Amy (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 8 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

Kevin Smith is one of us. Yes, that’s right…one of us. He’s not a Francis Ford Coppola or a Martin Scorsese, but a guy from New Jersey that decided to take a risk and make little movie called “Clerks”. It paid off. Since 1994, we have learned (and memorized) the names of Rick Derris, Dante Hicks, Brandy Svenning and so on. What all of these characters share is that they are part of the “View Askew” universe. Just like some really big, really popular comic book, Kevin Smith has made four feature films that share the same thing–the root and imagination of one man who took a risk. Now, don’t get me wrong, judging from what has been said already, you might think I worship the guy. I respect him as a director, and we all wish we could be in his position, don’t we? What started off with Clerks then proceeded to Mallrats and then graduated into Chasing Amy (the feature in question) and naturally led to Dogma. Are these films without their controversy? Of course not, they wouldn’t be near as fun if they didn’t have some sort of “brew ha ha” surrounding them. To quote (paraphrase) Kevin Smith, “Clerks was overpraised and Mallrats was overcriticised”. So did he hit a home run with Chasing Amy?

Chasing Amy is the story of two guys who happen to be moderately successful comic book artists. Their creation of “Bluntman and Chronic” (essentially Jay and Silent Bob in superhero form) has made them a cult hit with the comic book audience. Both are single and it seems, very happy with it and each other. Then it happens, Holden (Ben Affleck) meets Alyssa (Joey Lauren Adams) by some chance and falls instantly in love with her. Of course, there’s one problem…she’s a lesbian. Lesbian, gay, homosexual it all has the same meaning to Holden in his quest to seek the unreachable goal. With little support from his cohort, Banky Edwards (Jason Lee), Holden continues his pursuit, though fleeting it might be. And in a nutshell, that’s it. That’s the plot.

Different from the documentary-type style of plot that gave “Clerks” it’s edge and different from the slapstick humor of “Mallrats” (which is personally my favorite of his films), Chasing Amy gives us a “soft side” of the gang. Sharing many intimate moments and trying to make more of a romantic statement (the film was based on Smith’s personal relationship with the actress in question, Joey Lauren Adams) Smith scored big with critics and audiences alike. I might go out on a limb and say that this is the film that really made Kevin Smith break out as a director, or that it really gave Ben Affleck at his breakthrough role and made him into the superstar that he is today. Chasing Amy deals with love, and not just any kind of love, the kind that is still frowned on by our society. It takes a movie like Chasing Amy to make a statement and a director who has a feel for his audience to make it happen. Highly recommended.

Video: How does it look?

“Chasing Amy” has only been available via the Criterion Collection since its release on any sort of disc format (even the LaserDisc was distributed by Criterion). Evidently that’s now changed and Disney has handled this new Blu-ray release. “Chasing Amy” has never looked that great to begin with. It’s a low budget movie, shot on a miniscule budget so if you’re expecting a glossy and sheen HD transfer, you might want to look elsewhere. Now with that said, this 1.85:1 AVC HD transfer does make the movie look the best its ever looked. While there’s still a noticeable amount of grain in pretty much every scene, it’s not as noticeable as in previous versions. Colors are a bit washed out, but the overall movie has a much cleaner look and feel to it. It looks as good as it can without looking faux, if that makes sense.

Audio: How does it sound?

I reread my old review of this film and noticed at how surprised I was by the audio. Well it’s been quite some time since I’ve sat down and watched this film, so I decided to give the new DTS HD Master Audio a whirl. Again, I was rather taken by how this sounded. True, you’re not going to get something that sounds like “Armageddon” or any of the new modern-day mixes, but the sound is surprisingly robust. There’s an argument in a car with the rain pouring outside and the sound of the thunderstorm literally encompasses you. It’s a good-souding track and one that still continues to impress.

Supplements: What are the extras?

As previously mentioned, “Chasing Amy” has only been available via the Criterion Collection and now has been released by Disney (more specifically Miramax) as part of the “Kevin Smnth Box Set” which also contains “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back” and “Clerks”. Understandably the Criterion-specific supplements have been removed and a new commentary track with Smith and Scott Mosier (the two have collaborated on essentially every movie together) that takes a fresh look at the film. Yes, the “F$#K DVD” chant by the cast is now a thing of the past. Smith waxes philosophic on the film and the time since its initial release. Actually a bit more interesting than the track is “Was it Something I Said?” which re-unites Smith and co-star Joey Lauren Adams as they talk about the movie and rehash their relationship. Oddly Smith seems to recall and recollect a lot more than Adams who seems perplexed at how vivid his memory is. I’m guessing he did the breaking up. There’s also a Q & A session with the cast of the film which includes Jason Lee, Ben Affleck and of course Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith. The same deleted scenes and outtakes are still present as is the original theatrical trailer.

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