Mallrats (Limited Edition)

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

MVD/Arrow;
Comedy;
$39.95 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for strong language, including sexual dialogue, and for some scenes of sexuality and drug content.
Stars Shannen Doherty, Jeremy London, Jason Lee, Claire Forlani, Michael Rooker, Ben Affleck, Joey Lauren Adams, Renee Humphrey, Ehtan Suplee, Priscilla Barnes, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Stan Lee.

A box office bomb upon its release, director Kevin Smith’s second feature, 1995’s Mallrats, has since developed a huge cult following for an embrace of a nerd culture that was well ahead of its time.

Smith had already introduced his pop culture proclivities with the previous year’s indie darling Clerks, but Mallrats was his first big-studio effort, though aimed at the same basic target audience. (In fact, Smith recounts in one of the new interviews included with this Blu-ray that he pitched it as “Clerks at a mall”).

Though one of the film’s producers considered it ahead of its time, the financial and critical drubbing endured by Mallrats led Smith back into the realm of indie production, where he’s pretty much spent his entire feature directorial career since (the exceptions being 2010’s Cop Out for Warner, his only film he didn’t also write, and directing for television, mostly episodes of Warner’s Arrowverse here and there).

With Mallrats, Smith began to lay the foundation for his own cinematic universe, long before Marvel Studios came along. In addition to the return of Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Smith), there are references to other characters and events mentioned in Clerks. And Smith would continue to mine the Mallrats cast for his future projects, reteaming with the core trio of Ben Affleck, Jason Lee and Joey Lauren Adams two years later for Chasing Amy, his heartfelt return to the indie fold.

What Mallrats is perhaps best known for, however, is the lengthy cameo by comic book icon Stan Lee. While the former Marvel Comics publisher had made a handful of movie and TV appearances beforehand, his role in Smith’s film is generally considered the genesis of a cinematic tradition that saw him appear in nearly every Marvel movie since — so much so that in one of his final cameos, for the ’90s set MCU prequel Captain Marvel, Lee is seen rehearsing his lines for Mallrats.

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The new Arrow Video edition of the film is a big step up from the previous Blu-ray released by Universal in 2014, which was basically just a re-creation of the 10th anniversary DVD set from 2005.

Arrow has restored both the 95-minute theatrical cut and the half-hour longer extended edition that first appeared on that earlier DVD. The new Blu-ray also adds a third version: the 85-minute TV-suitable cut featuring some amusing overdubbing of Jay’s dialogue with a noticeably different voice since Mewes didn’t show up to re-record his dialogue.

The always loquacious Smith provides new introductions for the theatrical and TV cuts, while he and producer Scott Mosier’s introduction for the extended cut comes from the old DVD (and Blu-ray).

Other new extras include an informative half-hour reflection from Smith about the making of the film; a 13-minute remembrance by Smith of producer Jim Jacks, who was the one who predicted the film’s audience would eventually grow to find it; a 10-minute retrospective from Mewes, who expected to be fired from the role he originated in Clerks due to his acting inexperience (Smith recounts the studio wanting Seth Green or Breckin Meyer to play Jay); a six-minute interview with cinematographer and frequent Smith collaborator Dave Klein; and Hollywood of the North, a 10-minute animated documentary about the local crew that worked on the film when it was shot in Minnesota.

The two-disc set also includes nearly two hours of footage from the film’s dailies, plus an extensive photo gallery.

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Carryovers from the previous releases include an hour of deleted scenes, eight minutes of outtakes, nine minutes of on-set cast interviews, a 22-minute archive making-of, a 10th anniversary Q&A with Smith running nine minutes, a “Build Me Up Buttercup” music video, and a featurette about the soundtrack.

The disc also comes with an essay booklet and a reversible slipcover containing both new box art and the classic poster art.

Not everything carried over, however. Among the missing extras from previous releases are a 10th anniversary cast reunion Q&A, a 10-year retrospective featurette, and a collection of vignettes offered as Easter eggs. So, collectors may want to hold onto that 2014 Blu-ray, but between that and the new version, Arrow’s edition is the one to get.

 

‘Mallrats,’ ‘The Last Starfighter’ Among Releases Coming to Blu-ray in October From Arrow and MVD

Kevin Smith’s Mallrats, The Last Starfighter and the horror film The Deeper You Dig are among the titles coming to Blu-ray Disc in October from Arrow Video and MVD Entertainment Group.

Oct. 6 comes The Deeper You Dig (2019), which follows a mother, daughter and stranger as they deal with the aftermath of a roadside accident. The film is a family affair written and directed by husband and wife tandem John Adams and Toby Poser, who also start alongside daughter Zelda. The limited-edition release also comes with The Hatred, a previously made feature film by the Adams family. Bonus features include a reversible sleeve featuring two exclusive choices of artwork; a double-sided fold-out poster; a limited edition illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Neil Mitchell; audio commentary by writers/directors/stars Toby Poser and John Adams; “At Home with the Adams Family,” an exclusive, in-depth interview with the trio of filmmakers responsible for The Deeper You Dig; “It’s in the Blood: The Family in the Horror Genre,” an exclusive visual essay by critic Anton Bitel exploring the theme of family in The Deeper You Dig and the Adams family’s broader filmography; a special effects breakdown with commentary by Trey Lindsay; a FrightFest TV interview with the Adams family; Hellbender music videos; the theatrical trailer; and an image gallery.

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Due Oct. 13 is Kevin Smith’s cult classic Mallrats (1995), a comedy about a pair of recently dumped best friends seeking refuge at their local mall. The new release includes new restorations for both the theatrical and extended cuts approved by Smith and cinematographer David Klein. Bonus features include a newly assembled TV cut of the film featuring hilarious overdubbing to cover up profanity with an intro by Smith; a collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Philip Kemp; a fold out poster featuring replica blueprints for “Operation Drive-by” and “Operation Dark Knight”; audio commentary with Smith, producer Scott Mosier, archivist Vincent Pereira, and actors Jason Lee, Ben Affleck and Jason Mewes; a new introduction to the film by Smith; “My Mallrat Memories,” an all-new interview with Smith; a newly filmed tribute to producer Jim Jacks by Smith; a new interview with Mewes; a new interview with cinematographer Klein; “Hollywood of the North,” a newly produced animated making-of documentary featuring Minnesota crew members who worked on the film; Smith and Vincent Pereira discussing deleted scenes and sequences originally cut from the film; outtakes and behind-the-scenes footage; cast interviews from the original set; “Erection of an Epic: The Making of Mallrats,” an archival retrospective with cast and crew looking at the making of and release of the film; a 10th anniversary archival Q&A with Smith; “Build Me Up Buttercup” music video; stills galleries; the theatrical trailer; a stills gallery of the comic books featured in the film’s opening sequence; and Easter eggs.

Also coming Oct. 13 is Kôji Shima’s 1956 classic Warning From Space. The first Japanese science-fiction film to be shot in color, it’s the story of giant starfish-like aliens that land in Tokyo. It’s the film’s first-ever HD release in America and includes a newly restored English dub. Extras include a new commentary by Stuart Galbraith IV, author of Monsters Are Attacking Tokyo!; theatrical trailers; image galleries; a reversible sleeve featuring newly commissioned artwork by Matt Griffin; and, for the first pressing only, an illustrated collector’s booklet featuring an essay on artist Taro Okamoto by Japanese art historian Nick West and an essay on the production of the American edit of the film by David Cairns.

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Coming Oct. 27 is the serial killer film Cold Light of Day (1989), a fictionalized story about one of Britain’s most brutal serial killers, Dennis Nilsen. The limited-edition release includes a new 2K restoration approved by the film’s director Fhiona-Louise. Bonus features include a new audio commentary with writer/director Fhiona-Louise; a new audio commentary with film historians/writers Dean Brandum and Andrew Nette; a newly-filmed interview with actor Martin Byrne-Quinn; a newly filmed interview with actor Steve Munroe; an original Cold Light of Day promo film made to raise financing for the feature; the re-release trailer; two short films starring director Fhiona-Louise and photographed by Star Wars DP David Tattershall, newly restored in HD, Metropolis Apocalypse (1988) and Sleepwalker (1993); a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx; a limited-edition, die-cut O-card; and a limited-edition collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Jo Botting and a look at how the press reported Dennis Nilsen’s real-life crimes by Jeff Billington.

Finally, also on Oct. 27, comes Nick Castle’s The Last StarfighterReleased in 1984, The Last Starfighter follows gamer Alex Rogan who thinks he’s just playing another game until he finds himself transported to another planet where he learns the game was actually a recruitment effort. The Last Starfighter lands with a new 4K scan. Bonus features include a new audio commentary with Mike White of “The Last Projection Booth” podcast; an archival audio commentary with director Nick Castle and production designer Ron Cobb; the “Heroes of the Screen” archival featurette; the “Crossing the Frontier: The Making of The Last Starfighter” archival four-part documentary; image galleries; theatrical and teaser trailers; a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matt Ferguson; a limited edition reversible poster featuring original and newly commissioned artwork; and a collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Amanda Reyes and sci-fi author Greg Bear’s never-before-published Omni magazine article on Digital Productions, the company responsible for the CGI in The Last Starfighter.

Jay & Silent Bob Reboot

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street 1/21/20;
Lionsgate;
Comedy;
Box Office $3.41 million;
$19.98 DVD, $21.99 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for pervasive strong crude sexual content, language throughout, drug use and some nudity.
Stars Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Harley Quinn Smith, Shannon Elizabeth, Jason Lee, Fred Armisen.

The latest addition to Kevin Smith’s View-Askewniverse is an unexpected treat for longtime fans of the filmmaker’s work. That it even exists is somewhat of a miracle.

Smith had been trying to make Clerks 3, but when one of the key actors dropped out, he shelved the project. With progress on a Mallrats sequel also stalled, Smith instead wrote another “Jay & Silent Bob” movie, with the urging of his long-time friend and co-star Jason Mewes, who plays the stoner Jay in the films alongside Smith’s Silent Bob. But before production began, Smith suffered a heart attack in early 2018, though he eventually recovered.

As a result, Jay & Silent Bob Reboot might be Smith’s most personal film since 1997’s Chasing Amy, though in a completely different way. Where that film, his third, was an introspective rumination on the fleeting nature of young love, his latest romp is a comedic reflection of his entire career, and more often than not a parody of it, while also taking aim at Hollywood’s penchant for remakes, reboots and an endless string of comic book movies.

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Chasing Amy also happens to be an apropos starting point for dissecting Reboot, since that’s the film that gave birth to the idea of the Jay and Silent Bob drug dealer characters being the inspiration for the fictional “Bluntman and Chronic” comic book featured at the heart of that film’s story.

Reboot unabashedly tells the same story, albeit updated, as 2001’s Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, in which the duo, fearing damage to their reputations, trekked from New Jersey to Hollywood in an attempt to stop a film version of “Bluntman and Chronic” from being made.

Jay and Silent Bob end up profiting from that film (see Clerks II), but after 18 years the studio wants to reboot it, and through some legal maneuvers manage gain copyright control over the duo’s actual identities, preventing them from using their own names. As a result, they scheme to return to Hollywood to disrupt production of the reboot, too. The twist now is that the reboot’s director is Kevin Smith, playing a fictional version of himself.

Along the way, Jay and Silent Bob join forces with a rebellious teen (played by Smith’s real-life daughter, Harley Quinn Smith) and her friends, as they make their way to “Chronic-Con,” a blatant spoof of Comic-Con. Smith manages to work references to nearly all his previous movies into the adventure, including updating the audience on what happened to a few of the main characters from the shared universe (and even answering a 25-year-old question that lingered back to his original film, 1994’s Clerks).

This is all catnip for Smith’s fans, who can easily forgive the juvenile humor and crude behavior surrounding the central antagonists, even as the story veers off the rails in its final act. Such are the trademark selling points of Smith’s works, not drawbacks, in a way only someone such as Smith could get away with. These are at their core stoner comedies, after all.

Sophistication isn’t the goal here, just the boundless energy and sense of fun of a pop-culture-obsessed filmmaker embracing what he loves. Smith even manages to sneak in a few heartfelt moments of character, paying off decades of the audience’s investment in their stories.

And, seemingly as a result of the goodwill generated by the film’s roadshow tour, the departed Clerks III cast member decided to sign up after all, and it looks like that film is now a go, too.

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The film’s home video editions offer a few interesting, if somewhat unstructured, behind the scenes material. Primary among them is nearly an hour of cast interviews that have been cobbled together as some sort of ersatz making-of documentary. Presenting their thoughts without the framework of an interviewer, they mostly talk about their characters and the wackiness of the story.

Then, there’s a separate half hour of Smith and Mewes interviewing their co-stars.

Rounding out the extras are a 10-minute blooper reel and two minutes of Smith and Mewes fixing their Jay and Silent Bob hair.

 

‘Jay & Silent Bob Reboot’ Coming to Disc, Digital Jan. 21

Lionsgate will release the stoner comedy Jay & Silent Bob Reboot on Blu-ray Disc, DVD, digital and on demand Jan. 21.

Written and directed by Kevin Smith, the film is the seventh live-action installment of his View Askewniverse that began with Clerks in 1994 and continued with 1995’s Mallrats, 1997’s Chasing Amy, 1999’s Dogma, 2001’s Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back and 2006’s Clerks II.

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Smith and Jason Mewes play Silent Bob and Jay, respectively, the stoner duo from the shared universe whose latest adventure finds them returning to Hollywood to stop a reboot of the “Bluntman and Chronic” franchise that was inspired by them. The cast includes Ben Affleck, Shannon Elizabeth, Chris Hemsworth, Jason Lee, Justin Long and Harley Quinn Smith, Matt Damon, Rosario Dawson, Melissa Benoist, Joe Manganiello and Molly Shannon.

Home video extras include cast interviews, bloopers, a “Hair Reel” and a “Kevin & Jay Interview Cast & Crew” featurette.

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Smith’s original film, Clerks, Dec. 11 was selected for the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry.

Cinedigm Releasing ‘Madness in the Method’ on Disc Sept. 24

Cinedigm Sept. 24 will release the comedy Madness in the Method on Blu-ray and DVD. The film is already available for digital download.

The film marks the directorial debut of actor Jason Mewes, who is best known for the character of Jay in Kevin Smith’s “Jay and Silent Bob” movies.

In Madness in the Method, Mewes plays a fictionalized version of himself, tired of Hollywood’s perception of him. Upon advice from best friend Kevin Smith, Mewes tracks down a secret method acting book to reinvent himself as a serious actor, with disastrous consequences.

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The film features a slew of appearances from Hollywood icons, including the final on-screen cameo of Stan Lee.