Chasing Amy

Archie was the bitch and Jughead was the butch. That's why he was always going around wearing that crown-looking hat. He was the king of queen Archie's world.

A review by Mike Shea   Movie Rating: ( * * * * * )    DVD Rating: ( * * * * * )

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Chasing Amy may be my favorite romance. Believe it or not I am not a big fan of your "Sleepless in Seattle", "Harry Met Sally" or "You've Got Mail" style romances. I like romances I can relate with. While my relationship with a lesbian wasn't near as interesting as this Kevin Smith joint portrayed, I still found myself nodding towards the characters and feeling the same feelings as many of the characters. I have grown up a little bit since then, believe it or not, but I still found Chasing Amy to hit many nails right on the head. In a simple and cheap movie, Kevin Smith tells a great story with some of the best dialog and excellent acting any movie could hope for. And it did it for under $1 million.

Aside from Dogma, Kevin Smith movies have a nice, simple and small scope. They are about people, and their relationships. They are almost totally dialog driven and use tons of inside humor to grab the very select audience it is after. While the star wars and easter bunny humor is what got us into the seats, Smith surprises us with some scenes of real emotional power many times throughout the movie.

The black rage speech at the comic convention, including one of my favorite movie lines ever, "Fuck Lando Calrissian!", is a perfect example. Even though Chasing Amy is a bit outside of the dick and fart jokes that he prides himself on, it is not without the tag-lines that put Smith on the map. While it is probably one of the most realistic relationship movies I can ever recall seeing, it is the detail of the humor that really gives it life. Probably the best scene in the movie is at the nightclub where Banky and Alyssa share scars and stories suffered while going down on various girlfriends, all done in the exact set used twenty years earlier for the same scene between Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss in Jaws. Detail and multi-variate humor like that is very rare nowadays, Chasing Amy has it all over.

The DVD release of Chasing Amy is under the Critirion label. Though this label represented some of the best laserdiscs ever to come out, nowadays it signifies nothing but an extra $10 on the label. Most DVDs are released with excellent 16x9 enhanced images, Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks, deleted scenes and directors commentaries, so even though it was Criterion that started this trend, they have to get over themselves and start to find their nitch again. The DVD release for Chasing Amy certainly is worth the cost, though, with a crystal clear 16x9 enhanced 1.85 to 1 soundtrack, an excellent Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack that does wonders for the great soundtrack of the movie, and quite a few out-takes and deleted scenes.

The real gem of all of the Kevin Smith DVDs are the absolutely excellent directors commentaries. These should be the benchmark that all other directors try to achieve. Kevin Smith as well as the cast and crew, all friends in real life, sit and watch their own movie with only a little of the ass kissing that directors normally fill the track with. Their humor is as funny as the dialog in the movie, they tease, taunt and poke at eachother throughout the entire track, leaving me on the floor on many occasions. There is also a lot of excellent background information, inside jokes and tidbits of information you wouldn't be able to get anywhere else. This is the way all commentaries should be.

Chasing Amy along with the other Smith movies are proof in my mind that not only can you make a movie that beats the hell out of big academy award blockbusters like Titanic, but you can do so for a fraction of the cost. Taking that a step further, I would say that with that kind of budget constraint, your movie would be even better than with the unlimited budget of Titanic. Instead of being able to throwing special effects at everything, now you have to work for a living.