Film / Chasing Amy

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"She was the girl, I know that now. But I pushed her away. So, I've spent every day since then chasing Amy. So to speak."

A 1997 romantic comedy-drama written and directed by Kevin Smith, and the third film in The View Askewniverse series.

Holden McNeil (Ben Affleck) is an artist who works fairly successfully for his "Bluntman and Chronic" comic along with his best friend Banky Edwards (Jason Lee). Holden meets fellow comic artist Alyssa Jones (Joey Lauren Adams) at a convention, and after connecting with her on an intensely interpersonal level finds himself greatly smitten; before he can make a move, however, he discovers that Alyssa is a lesbian. He is devastated by that information, but they still become incredibly close friends. There is one hitch, however: he is still in love with her.

This film was originally inspired by a brief scene in Go Fish (cowritten by Smith's friend Guinevere Turner, who has a cameo here), wherein one of the lesbian characters imagines her friends passing judgment on her for "selling out" by sleeping with a man. In real life, Kevin Smith was dating Joey Lauren Adams at the time he was writing the script, which was also partly inspired by her. Smith has even admitted that the film is basically an apology to Adams for his real-life overreaction upon learning of her sexual past while the two were dating (though he also makes it clear that her sexual history was nowhere near as wild as Alyssa's, only enough to make him feel inadequate and inexperienced at a young age).

Noted for its frank dialogue, Chasing Amy explores concepts of sexuality and love, and how you can't necessarily just turn off your feelings and the social pressure you get. It was generally well-received, winning two awards at the 1998 Independent Spirit Awards (Best Screenplay for Smith and Best Supporting Actor for Jason Lee). Joey Lauren Adams was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical. There's even been speculation for years that it was a nose away from winning an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.

Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum was the Musical Consultant/Producer on this film and wrote music for it.

This movie contains examples of:

  • Alternative Character Interpretation: In-universe example; Hooper insists to Banky that Archie and Jughead are gay lovers, while Banky insists to Hooper that Archie was "all about pussy".
    • Doubles as Foreshadowing: Banky is very much Holden's Jughead.
    • Hooper's Star Wars rant is all about this, as well.
  • An Aesop: Relationships are give and take. You can't expect someone to love you on your own terms just because it makes you feel more secure about yourself.
  • And Starring: Jason Mewes as Jay.
  • Angry Black Man: Parodied by Hooper, who pretends to be an Angry Black Man to sell comics but is actually Camp Gay. Also deconstructed, to some degree. It's definitely hinted that some of the rage he exhibits is real, but cloaked in irony. He also seems to be both angry at how black people are treated and, simultaneously, angry at the way the black community treats gay people. He's a complicated man.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love:
    • Holden's Love Speech in the Rain.
    • Followed soon after by Alyssa's monosyllabic reciprocative anguished squeak.
  • Armored Closet Gay Banky is apparently with Hooper in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, though he could also possibly just be bisexual.
    • Interestingly enough, it also counts in this film as well. Banky throws around homophobic slurs left and right but when Holden propositions him for sex, he actually is willing at first.
    • Hooper plays with this as well: He doesn't mind the fact that he's gay, but he doesn't let his consumers know that, especially since a gay black man is "the swishiest gay man there is".
  • Bait-and-Switch Comparison: This infamous exchange:
    Banky: Alright, now see this? This is a four-way road, OK? And dead in the center is a crisp, new, hundred dollar bill. Now, at the end of each of these streets are four people, OK? Are you following?
    Holden: Yeah.
    Banky: Good. Over here, we have a male-affectionate, easy to get along with, non-political agenda lesbian. Down here, we have a man-hating, angry as fuck, agenda of rage, bitter dyke. Over here, we got Santa Claus, and up here the Easter Bunny. Which one is going to get to the hundred dollar bill first?
    Holden: What is this supposed to prove?
    Banky: No, I'm serious. This is a serious exercise. It's like an SAT question. Which one is going to get to the hundred dollar bill first? The male-friendly lesbian, the man-hating dyke, Santa Claus, or the Easter Bunny?
    Holden: The man-hating dyke.
    Banky: Good. Why?
    Holden: I don't know.
    Banky: BECAUSE THE OTHER THREE ARE FIGMENTS OF YOUR FUCKING IMAGINATION!!!
  • Berserk Button: Banky has several.
    • "You're a fucking tracer!"
    • YOUR MOTHER'S A TRACER!
    • Banky also didn't appreciate Hooper's theory that Archie was gay, and dragged Hooper to a comic book store to disprove it.
  • Betty and Veronica: Discussed, when two characters try to explain why it happens in Archie Comics. Hooper is convinced it's because Archie is Jughead's lover, and Banky is convinced its because Archie wants to bed both girls at once.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Everyone's able to move on with their lives and Holden in particular becomes a better person in the end, but neither his relationship with Alyssa nor his friendship with Banky survive. However, Banky and Holden do have a brief, silent reunion and it's very apparent how happy they are to see each other. Banky even wordlessly encourages Holden to go talk to Alyssa who's nearby.
  • But Not Too Black: Hooper's complaints about Darth Vader being a white man.
  • Call-Back: Twice to Clerks, as well as Mallrats.
    • Alyssa explicitly mentions attending the funeral of Julie Dwyer—the same funeral is attended by Dante and Randal in Clerks, and the reasons for her death are stated in Mallrats, are revealed to be the protagonist's fault, and kick off the main plot.
    • Earlier in the same scene, Alyssa mentions that her best friend had sex with a dead man in the bathroom of Quick-Stop (the setting of Clerks). This happens to a character, Caitlin, in the climax of that film. Alyssa also says she had a crush on Caitlin in high school.
  • Canada, Eh?: When Banky suggests he and Holden watch Degrassi Junior High:
    Holden: You got a weird thing for Canadian melodrama.
    Banky: I got a weird thing for girls who say, "Aboot".
  • Captain Ethnic: "My book, 'White Hating Coon', is a positive role model that a young black reader can look up to."
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Two, but they don't go off until subsequent movies. Jay and Silent Bob's bus tickets to Illinois get them to the midwest in time for the plot of Dogma, and Banky and Holden's comic book (turned movie) becomes the major plot of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.
    • There's a third one: A blurb in one of the newspapers in the beginning reveals Brodie has quit his job as the host of the Tonight Show and opened up a comic book store, linking this movie to both Mallrats and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.
    • One of the newspapers also mentioned the character Mooby, whose chain of restaurants is featured prominently in Dogma and Clerks II.
  • Covers Always Lie: The Criterion Collection DVD cover notably depicts Holden with no facial hair and Banky smiling. During the entire movie, Holden keeps his goatee, and Banky is not nearly cheerful enough to wear that grin. Jay and Silent Bob's presence on the cover also implies that they'll be there for more than one scene.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Played straight, then deconstructed.
    • Holden is, at first, a decent-enough guy who happens to develop feelings for a woman who could never love him back because she isn't attracted to men. When he spills his guts to her about being in love with her, she rightfully calls him an asshole for making this her problem... only to confess that she is attracted to men and, after a second thought, admits that she loves him back.
    • The second half of the movie depicts Holden's selfishness when he's hung up on Alyssa's devious sexual past, taking for granted how coming out as bi just to be with him was a huge risk that ostracized her from her other lesbian friends. The only reason he feels that having a three-way with Alyssa and Banky will solve all of their problems is because it would be easiest for him.
  • Dramatic Drop: Banky drops a bottle of milk when he walks into his and Holden's apartment to find Holden and Alyssa asleep naked on the couch.
  • Flat "What.": Banky's reaction when Holden accuses him of being in love with him.
  • Friendship Moment: Just because a friendship moment is selfless (or at least well-intentioned) doesn't automatically make it a good idea.
  • Funny Background Event:
    • When Alyssa and Holden are playing darts, people behind them can be seen repeatedly entering the opposite gender's bathroom. Though since it is a gay bar (and Holden doesn't know it at the time) this becomes a Meaningful Background Event.
    • When Silent Bob is telling his story about Amy, Jay is repeatedly pouring sugar into a spoon and eating it.
  • Girl-on-Girl Is Hot:
    • Hooper mentions the fact that lesbians are becoming far more accepted in society because of this trope, while a gay black man has several additional hurdles to jump through.
    • Also accurately describes Banky's reaction upon realizing he's in a lesbian bar and seeing Alyssa make out another girl. Although that is also leavened with a soupçon of schaudenfraude upon finding out Holden's crush is a lesbian.
  • Halfway Plot Switch: The first half is about Holden struggling with being in love with Alyssa, who identifies as a lesbian. Then, they hook up. The second half of the movie is about Holden feeling increasingly insecure about Alyssa's extensive sexual past.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Deconstructed between Holden and Banky, Holden eventually states out loud that Banky's opposition to Alyssa stems from his attraction to Holden in a non-homosexual way. The end of the movie has them as good friends but they needed space from each other to grow, as Banky became a successful artist on his own and gets past the stigma of being a tracer.
  • I Have to Go Iron My Dog: Holden tries to pull Banky out of the lesbian bar when things start getting awkward for him by saying they need to beat traffic. Banky tells him that there's no traffic since it's one in the morning, to which Holden replies, "Yeah, so rush hour starts in eight hours!"
  • Incompatible Orientation: Subverted. Holden likes Alyssa when he thinks she's a "pure" lesbian or even a relatively chaste bisexual, but when he learns about her past...
  • Insistent Terminology: Banky is an inker. But many people (especially that one guy) think it's the same as tracing.
  • My Girl Is Not a Slut: Subverted and discussed at length. It's almost a deconstruction! After all, the guy loses the girl because he can't cope with her past. He feels inferior to her experience and wants to try something to make up the difference. And he's too ignorant to realize she doesn't care, that she just wants him.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Holden attempts to rekindle his broken relationships with both his best friend and his girlfriend by suggesting they have a three-way. It ends up destroying both.
  • No Bisexuals: Sort of. Alyssa is bi/pansexual but identifies as a lesbian until she gets together with Holden, but the word "bisexual" doesn't appear anywhere in the film. Her friends treat her falling for Holden as "losing one to the other team," implying that identifying as bixesual is more controversial than identifying as a lesbian and, therefore, making her being in a relationship with Holden that much more selfless.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Apparently as a child Banky made a nun so angry that she called him a "fucking cunt rag".
    • While probably just some nonsense tossed off by his drug-fueled ranting, or even just an outright lie, Jay mentions that Alyssa's devious sexual past included something involving a dog.
  • N-Word Privileges: In a deleted scene, Alyssa says she's offended by Banky using words like "faggot" and "dyke" carelessly and in anger. Holden retorts with why it's okay for her and Hooper X to use those words if they're so bad. Alyssa explains that they use those words in order to take the venom out of them, so when ignorant and hateful people say them, they won't be bothered as much.
  • The One That Got Away: The entire plot and climax of the movie.
  • Pronoun Trouble: Alyssa's friends catch on to her heterosexual relationship because when mentioning the person she fell for she doesn't specify the gender.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: Averted. Holden is easily the most selfish character in the movie and everybody treats him as such.
  • Rule 34:
    • Discussed, in regards of Archie Comics.
    • Also, Banky's collection of pornographic magazines includes bizarre scenarios involving women and horses, which he reads TO A CHILD in a train station.
  • Secondary Character Title: Amy is only mentioned off-screen as the ex-girlfriend of Silent Bob, another secondary character.
  • Self-Deprecation: Jay complains about his portrayal in Bluntman & Chronic, specifically the phrase "snootchie-bootchies", which was first used in Mallrats.
  • Sequential Artist: Holden McNeil and Banky Edwards are writers/artists for Bluntman and Chronic comic, Alyssa Jones is writer/artist for Idiosyncratic Routine, and Hooper X produces the comic White Hatin' Coon.
  • Shout-Out
    • Alyssa and Banky comparing lovemaking scars is nearly identical to the famous scene from Jaws.
    • Bizarrely enough, doubles with Actor Allusion twice over. The scene where Alyssa's lesbian friends chastise her for "selling out" (her lesbianism by hooking up with Holden) mirrors a scene in Go Fish. The scene here features Guinevere Turner, who shares a name with Adams' character in Mallrats. Turner also wrote and appeared in Go Fish (although not in the scene in question).
  • "Shut Up" Kiss: Holden gives one to Banky. It works.
  • Signature Style: Kevin Smith's writing and directorial style is on display here with all of its usual notes: Snarky banter, limited camera movement, frank discussions of comic book sex, copious Star Wars references, and ice hockey. And My Girl Is Not a Slut, present in Clerks as well. Also a lampshading of the Degrassi Junior High references in the previous two movies.
  • The Silent Bob: In some ways subverted for this movie, because Jay and Silent Bob are only in one scene and that one scene has Bob give a poignant monologue about "chasing Amy" he almost has as much dialogue as Jay.
  • Take That!: Kevin Smith word-for-word quotes a negative review of Mallrats in a deleted scene involving two snooty comicbook salesmen dissing Bluntman & Chronic.
  • There Is No Try: Silent Bob tries to quote this, but is violently interrupted by Jay.
  • Title Drop: Silent Bob tells Holden that he is "chasing Amy".
  • Trivial Title: It's named after an anecdote Kevin Smith (as Silent Bob) delivers near the climax of the film.
  • Wham Line
    • Alyssa: "I BLEW HIM WHILE CODY FUCKED ME!!", confirming that she did, in fact, have a promiscuous straight past and making it clear that she does not appreciate Holden outing her about it in public.
    • Holden: "We should all have sex together."
  • Where Everybody Knows Your Flame: Banky realizes before Holden that Alyssa has taken them here. His face is priceless.

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