Back to the 90s: See Mallrats As Part Of Focus Movie Mondays

Six ways Kevin Smith’s comedy classic is a blast from the past

After Kevin Smith’s 1994 convenience store comedy Clerks became a commercial and critical success, the writer/director transferred his world view to a larger stage with Mallrats. The film follows T.S. (Jeremy London) and Brodie (Jason Lee) through a day of madcap adventures as they attempt to console each other. Brandi (Claire Forlani) has just broken up with T.S. to appear on her dad's game show Truth or Date, while Rene (Shannen Doherty) dumps Brodie for being immature. At the mall, the two pals bump into the usual suspects, from slackers Silent Bob (Kevin Smith) and Jay (Jason Mewes) to local bully (Ben Affleck). Alive with the sounds and slang of 90s culture, the film captures the psyche of its generation. In the 25 years since its debut, Mallrats has become a cult classic, with fans rewinding it over and over again to pick up on its pop-cultural references and fan-boy digressions. Get ready for a trip back to the 90s as Kevin Smith's comic imagination runs amok in Mallrats, part of Focus Movie Mondays.

Watch Mallrats on April 20 at 5pm PST/8pm EST on Focus’ Facebook page, including a live Watch Party with Kevin Smith. Get more information here. Each livestream will include a link to donate to the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s COVID 19 Response Fund.

Jeremy London and Jason Lee in front of Gerbils, Gerbils, Gerbils in Mallrats

1) It has fun at the mall

In setting his film at a shopping mall, Smith paid homage to a great American institution. While Smith originally wanted to use a New Jersey spot, the production settled on the Eden Prairie Center Mall in Minnesota. The production team quickly went to work, repurposing the mall's empty stores by turning them into their own parodies of 90s boutiques. Throughout the film, you can catch the names of places like Fashionable Male (where Ben Affleck works), Gerbils, Gerbils, Gerbils, Time for Cookies, Buy Me Toys, Popular Girl, and Burning Flesh Tanning Salon scattered throughout the mall. The film's ending, where we learn about the future lives of the many characters, is homage to another great mall film, Amy Heckerling’s 1982 Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

Breakout star Jason Lee in Mallrats.

2) There are 90s teen idols as well as future stars

As one of the stars of the zeitgeist 90s show Beverly Hills 90210, Shannen Doherty appearance in Mallrats gave the film a pop culture seal-of-approval. Smith even turns Doherty's TV fame into a gag by having a character mistakenly call her Brenda, her 90210 character’s name. At the same time, Smith turned down many name actors who auditioned to go with up-and-coming performers, from Ben Affleck to Jason Lee. Before Mallrats, Lee made his living as a professional skateboarder.

Jason Lee and Michael Rooker in Mallrats.

3) It helped spark a new 90s film genre

Mallrats' mix of racy jokes with sweet story lines provided the formula for the 90s gross-out comedy. From giving the stink palm to Michael Rooker to picking a fight with the Easter Bunny, Mallrats' humor became the blueprint for such raunchy comedies as the 1998 There’s Something About Mary and the 1999 American Pie.

Jay (Jason Mewes) rocks out with Silent Bob (Kevin Smith) in Mallrats

4) Its 90s soundtrack rocks out

Scoring the film with alternative and punk 90s bands, such as Weezer, Elastica, Girls Against Boys, Belly, Bush, and more, gives the film a real sense of time and place. 

Stan Lee in Mallrats.

5) Stan Lee gives one of his best cameos

Before a Stan Lee cameo became the trademark for nearly every Marvel movie, Mallrats cast the king of comic books for a walk-on part. Smith, a comic book aficionado, had a special love for the man who created so many superheroes. It only made sense that he would show up to give Brodie some relationship advice. In 2019, Marvel gave a nod to this special cameo in Captain Marvel when it shows Lee reading the Mallrats screenplay on a train and repeating his lines from the movie, "Trust me, true believer," as Marvel battles a shapeshifting alien.

Silent Bob (Kevin Smith) and Jay (Jason Mewes) reading in Mallrats.

6) It pokes fun at its own indie cred

The 90s were in many ways the heyday of independent film, a time when a comic-book fan like Kevin Smith could sell his collection to raise money for a low-budget film that would bring him the fame to fund a bigger second feature, like Mallrats. To poke fun at his own success, Smith has his character Silent Bob reading John Pierson’s Spike, Mike, Slackers and Dykes: A Guided Tour Across a Decade of American Independent Cinema, a book with multiple references to Smith's career. For comic contrast, Jay is checking out the recent Penthouse.

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