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Film / Mallrats

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"They're not there to shop. They're not there to work. They're just there."

A 1995 film by Kevin Smith, and part of The View Askewniverse. It is the second entry into this series, although chronologically set before the first film of the verse, Clerks.

T.S. and Brodie are comic-book loving slackers who have both recently broken up with their respective girlfriends. Seeking solace at the local mall, they find ways to sabotage their exes' plans and to try and woo them back- all while dealing with a host of crazy and colorful people, both good and evil. Like all Smith films, this film has quite a bit of Vulgar Humor. It was filmed in Eden Prairie Center in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, which at the time was a tired and dying mall with low traffic (it has since been extensively renovated).

Taking place a day before Clerks, with the usual parodies and Star Wars references (and a surprising cameo by Stan 'The Man' Lee). It was also then-skateboarding superstar Jason Lee's first major acting role.

Though it is now considered just as much a cult classic as Clerks, at its time of theatrical release it significantly underperformed the earlier film on a much higher budget (grossing less than $2.5 million of its $6 million budget) and, together with Michael Moore's Canadian Bacon (which came out a month earlier and recouped less than $179,000 of its $11 million budget) c,ame close to bankrupting distributor Gramercy Pictures.

20 years after the film was released, a sequel was unexpectedly announced by Smith, titled Mallbrats; almost all of the cast (with the exception of Ben Affleck) was confirmed to return, with filming originally scheduled to begin at the Exton Square Mall in the Philadelphia suburbs in 2016. According to this article, the plot was to be "Die Hard in a mall", but with a "Save the Clock Tower" element — specifically having Brodie try to save the mall by organizing a Comic-Con, only to have terrorists invade. Ralph Garman (the host of The Joe Schmo Show and one of Smith's more recent media partners) would portray the terrorist leader, and Bruce Campbell was cast in an unknown role. More recently, Smith revealed that, due to being bogged down with legal issues between him and Universal (a partner in Gramercy), the sequel would be reconfigured into a 10-episode TV series instead; however, this plan was pitched with no success and the project is now on the backburner.

This film provides examples of:

  • Accidental Pervert: Silent Bob turns into one of these: each time a Zany Scheme backfires, he ends up in a women's dressing room, where he sees a girl in the process of trying on clothes. And it's always the same girl. The girl in question, Gwen, is later seen changing in semi-public while talking to Brodie and TS, claiming that it saves her the effort.
  • Actor Allusion: In one scene, Shannen Doherty's character Rene is called "Brenda" by mistake (her character in 90210). Ben Affleck's character's name, Shannon Hamilton, is a veiled reference to Doherty's previous marriage to Ashley Hamilton.
  • Artistic License Geography: The police cars that pull up to the mall indicate they're from the Red Bank Police Department. Red Bank, New Jersey has no indoor mall the size of the one portrayed in the film. Though the original filming location planned was at nearby Seaview Square Mall in Ocean Township, NJ, prior to its demolition, before the Eden Prairie, Minnesota mall was picked.
  • Bald of Evil: Brandi's father, Mr. Svenning.
  • Berserk Button: Shannon hates mallrats, because they just loiter with no intention of buying anything. (One has to wonder what he would think of people who take photos of retail stuff for the Internet nowadays.)
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Mr. Svenning and Shannon Hamilton.
  • Black Comedy Rape: Trish the Dish.
  • Bowdlerise: Mallrats was shown on network TV (ABC) once and remains the only View Askew movie to do so. Needless to say, much of the raunchy humor was removed, including the explanation of the stink palm (Brodie's dialogue is changed to make it sound like his pretzels are moldy, which is why Mr. Svenning gets sick), plus some terrible ADR to boot. However, to make up for lost time, some of the deleted footage was added back in.
  • Breast Attack: Gwen sneaks up on her old boyfriend TS, who jumps and "elbows [her] right in the freakin' tit!" She responds by giving TS an upward double axe handle to the groin. (Brodie uses the opportunity to explain his opinion of karmic justice to TS.)
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Brodie gives an Aside Glance to the camera after "stink-palming" Mr. Svenning.
  • Brick Joke: Jay and Silent Bob are seen with a random orangutan in the Where Are They Now credits. This is not explained for three movies, until they rescue an orangutan from an animal testing lab in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, released six years later.
    • Actually picked up on in the Chasing Dogma series of comics that has, as the name suggests, the movies Chasing Amy and Dogma as bookends. The series explains how Jay and Silent Bob end up in the same town as Bethany — they're searching for Shermer, Illinois (the site of many a John Hughes movie, and naturally, nonexistent), and along the way, end up rescuing a chimp which is hunted, in a hilarious Fugitive spoof, by a Tommy Lee Jones lookalike. Presumably needing some narrative for Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Smith recycled this with Will Ferrell in the Jones role.
    • In an effort to destroy the stage, Silent Bob dresses up in a Batman mask, swings past a critical pin (missing his chance to grab it), and crashes through a dressing room wall with Gwen inside. This (and their other antics) form the basis for the Bluntman and Chronic comic that forms parts of the plot of Chasing Amy and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. Additionally, Jay can be overheard telling this story to Loki and Bartleby in Dogma.
  • The Brute: Shannon.
  • The Cameo: Of Stan Lee, no less. Also of Game Show host Art James.
  • Catholic School Girls Rule: Invoked deliberately by Tricia, as part of her sex research.
  • Celebrity Paradox: At one point, Silent Bob is shown reading Spike, Mike, Slackers, and Dykes, a book about the indie film industry which includes a chapter on Kevin Smith and the making of Clerks.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Trish the Dish and her video tapes (specifically the one she made of her and Shannon).
  • Chekhov's Skill: Silent Bob practicing his Jedi telekinesis. Also, Willam's inability to see the sailboat plays a pretty important part in the ending.
  • Christmas Creep: Easter Creep, in this case; when Brodie and TS first observe the construction of the Truth or Date stage, TS theorizes it's for the Easter Bunny photos. Brodie shoots that down, stating that "the Easter Bunny corner is down at the other end of the mall, it's been up since two days after Christmas!"
  • Company Cross References: Since it was a Universal-produced film, Kevin chose to load the film with references to their other films, including Jaws (in addition to TS's plan for proposal {which then verges into Product Placement}, TS's last name and Brodie's first name both reference Jaws characters), and Brodie has a Tremors poster in his room.
  • Continuity Nod: Explains the circumstances surrounding the death of Julie Dwyer, the girl whose funeral Dante and Randal crash in Clerks.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Brodie, continuing the Bruce-Graves family tradition.
  • Deleted Scenes: A whole hour of them on the Extended Version, including a dropped opening scene (and an additional plot thread referencing it).
  • Denser and Wackier: Compared to Clerks. While that film was pretty down-to-earth, with most of the humor derived from its many Seinfeldian Conversations, Mallrats featured a lot more zany comedy and slapstick.
  • The Dragon: LaFours plays this role to Jared Svenning.
  • Elevator Going Down: Brodie and René.
  • Euphemism Buster:
    Brandi: Second suitor: if we were making whoopee, what sounds would you make?
    Brodie: Wait, what's whoopee?
    Brandi: You know, being intimate.
    Brodie: What? Like fucking?
    Cue collective Gasp! from the audience
  • Fan Disservice: The psychic with the third nipple. Brodie, initially excited about the notion of topless fortune telling, shields his eyes the entire time.
  • Fanservice: Gwen is seen topless one of the times Silent Bob bursts into her dressing room.
  • Follow the Leader: Svenning's game show is a shameless ripoff of The Dating Game.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: This could just be a mistake, but if you freeze-frame on the Magic Eye puzzle and actually adjust your eyes to see the picture, you'll see it isn't a sailboat; it's just a few abstract shapes. No wonder Willam couldn't see the sailboat.
  • Good Counterpart: Brodie to his cousin Randal in a way — while both are Deadpan Snarkers who are obsessed with films and/or comics, Brodie is significantly nicer to T.S. than Randal is normally to Dante. Unlike Randal, he shows he's capable of forming good relationships (even if his relationship with Rene was rocky), gets along quite well with Jay and Silent Bob, and will step up to help his friends and stop assholes (even if one tactic is to shove his own hand up it).
  • Groin Attack: Gwen smashes T.S. in the balls with her purse, after he accidentally elbows her in the breast. According to Kevin on the DVD commentary, in the take they wound up using, she accidentally did smash him and his agony is real.
    • Silent Bob does this to a store sign (which forms the wall to Gwen's changing room.)
  • Hostile Show Takeover: Kind of. During Truth or Date, Brodie essentially hijacks it by telling weird stories and aiming lots of quips at Gil, while T.S. deals with Brandi, and Jay and Bob, along with Tricia, are busy backstage.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Parodied. Silent Bob pulls a number of unlikely items from his trench coat, including a full-size, inflated sex doll.
  • It's for a Book: Parodied with the 15-year-old Tricia having sex with older men in order to write a book about it.
  • Jerkass: Shannon and Mr. Svenning, Brandi's father.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Brodie has No Indoor Voice and is pretty abrasive and selfish when it comes to René's needs, but is far more likable than either of the above, and ultimately goes out of his way to prove his love for René (with a little help from T.S. and Stan the Man).
  • Karmic Rape: The fate of Ben Affleck's character.
  • Kick The Son Of A Bitch: Brodie convinces the cops who are arresting Shannon to let him punch the guy.
  • Kneel Before Zod: Shouted by Jay after smacking LaFours with a baseball bat.
  • The Lancer: Brodie, to T.S.
  • Leg Cling: The poster.
  • Lip Lock: Some scenes had to be re-dubbed to remove the references to the Governor's Ball plot; this occurred in the scene where TS and Brodie meet up with Jay and Bob, and the guy who gets decked in the parking lot by TS when they arrive from the dirt mall also suffers from this. The "edited for TV" version also had this.
  • The Mall: Of course. A very rare example of a work acknowledging the then fairly new concept of "dead malls" in the form of the "dirt mall" (which was actually in New Brunswick, NJ, and has since been replaced with a Loews Cineplex).
  • Man Bites Man: Silent Bob can be seen biting one of the ears of the Easter Bunny when he and Jay go to beat him up.
  • Momma's Boy: Brodie, according to his girlfriend.
  • Moon Logic Puzzle: The Magic Eye puzzle Willam is obsessed with.
  • Mythology Gag: A portion of Brandi and Gwen's conversation backstage of the game show sounds vaguely familiar....
    • In Clerks, Dante asks Randal if he's going to lock up the video store before the hockey game. Here, T.S. asks Jay if he ever gets stoned. Randal and Jay's responses are identical, right down to the vocal inflection: "Look who you're askin'!"
    • T.S. is shown to be responsible for the cutting remark that convinces Julie Dwyer to swim laps until she drops dead. Dante and Randall wreck her wake in Clerks.
    • In Clerks, Randall tells the story of how his cousin Walter died attempting to perform autofellatio. The opening lines of this movie have Brodie telling a similar story of a bizarre act by his cousin Walter, implying that they may be the same cousin and that Brodie and Randall are related.
      • The tie-in comics later confirm that they are indeed cousins.
      • It's also implied they have the same grandma: who is/was a lesbian, and very racist.
  • Never Heard That One Before: A meta example: René does not take kindly to being called "Brenda." See Actor Allusion above.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Shannon delivers one to Brodie that made Kevin Smith uncomfortable.
    • Jay and Silent Bob give a somewhat more humorous one to the mall's Easter Bunny when they mistakenly think he beat up Brodie (it was really Shannon).
  • Noodle Incident: While laying low at the dirt mall, Brodie asks TS "You used to be a stand-up kinda guy, y'know? What happened to that guy? The guy who punched Amanda Gross's mother after she called him "low class"?" TS then clarifies that it was Brodie who punched the woman, not him. And also states that it wasn't her mother, it was her grandmother ("No wonder the bitch went down so fast."). No further explanation is given to the story.
    • The Governor's Ball is this in the final cut of the film, as it only gets referenced once by a TV executive speaking with Mr. Svenning.
  • Not Distracted by the Sexy: T.S. completely ignores the topless psychic's breasts, and comes to an epiphany over her advice. Brodie however, who was previously excited at the thought of topless fortune telling, can't stomach the sight of her (fake) third nipple.
    • The ironic part is that he has the epiphany over what she's saying as she's trying to get Brodie to look at it.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Brandi is played by English actress Claire Forlani. Her accent is decidedly unJoisey and her natural English accent slips in quite often. It's especially noticeable in the opening scene, filmed long after the original production wrapped and absolutely no one was happy to be there, according to Kevin Smith.
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten: In the Director's Cut, Brandi dumping T.S. is triggered by him accidentally shooting the Governor of NJ with a prop musket from a play he was in at an event hosted by her father. Throughout the director's cut, people would bring up the incident. One particular example was the guy T.S. randomly beat up in the parking lot for asking him about Brandi in the final cut. In the director's cut, he asked him about the musket incident, and T.S. was finally sick of people bringing it up.
  • Pac Man Fever: Occurs slightly when Brodie's playing a hockey video game on his Genesis; see below for why.
  • Pet the Dog: Jay saying goodbye to the pet store kittens ("Bye baby kitties!"). He even tells Silent Bob to show some heart and say goodbye to them as well.
  • Prequel: Set one day before Clerks, hence the mention of Julie Dwyer's death. We also find out that T.S. was responsible for her swimming laps in the pool and having an embolism.
  • Product Placement: Sbarro's the only real restaurant in the food court. The only other real shop glimpsed is a B. Dalton (which has been gone since 2010). They did not show any of the real anchor stores (given that Carson Pirie Scott (whose' location at the real mall is now Von Maur) and Target were mainly, and in Carson's case, still is, Midwestern chains, though Target did start expanding to the Northeast and other areas in the late 90's, though.), except for a brief glimpse of the left side of the Target "Bullseye" when Brodie and TS return from the dirt mall to the real mall; a trimmed portion just before TS and Brodie enter the mall, as they walk through the parking lot, shows the Kohls, though (the Kohls is also the building seen as Team LaFours chase Jay and Silent Bob).
    • Also, the VCR Silent Bob uses for the stage is a Panasonic VCR; they owned Universal at the time the movie was made, though by the time the movie was released they had sold it to Seagram's (yes, the liquor company).
    • It's noted in the epilogue TS and Brandi tied the knot during the Jaws ride at Universal Studios Florida.
    • There's also the case of Brodie's hockey video game. Originally, he was shown playing an EA Sports hockey game and its distinctive music could be heard. However, during production someone at Gramercy made a deal with Sega to help promote the film via this bus tour thing Sega had going on at the time. As a result, the scene was modified to instead have Brodie playing a Sega Sports game on his Genesis (more specifically, a Sega Saturn game). (As for that promotional deal, Sega didn't promote the movie at all in the end.)
  • Pyrrhic Victory: The Stink Palm.
    Brodie: "It's a small price to pay for the smiting of one's enemies."
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Brandi's dad gives one to T.S. Also, Brandi and René each give one to T.S. and Brodie at the beginning of the movie.
  • Repeated Cue, Tardy Response: The climax featured Brodie setting up to expose Shannon having had sex with Tricia to be as public as possible, but it backfires in this fashion when the tape gets dropped. Cue him yelling "NOW!" several times as Shannon attempts to assault him before events turn and the tape plays, resetting Brodie's plan.
  • Running Gag: Shannon's intention to have sex in a very uncomfortable place (meaning anal) with various women is constantly misinterpreted as "the back of a Volkswagen'.
    • Willam and the "Magic Eye" sailboat picture.
    • Silent Bob crashing through the dressing room wall as Gwen is changing.
    • In a deleted plot thread, mention of T.S. getting a musket tangled in Brandi's hair, or people seeing him on CNN.
      • Along with said people not quite remembering why he was on CNN, and offering their own reasons. This goes from attempting to shoot the Governor (which is at least what the people there thought), to shooting the Pope.
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: T.S. and Brodie's conversation at the cookie stand about whether or not Lois Lane could carry Superman's baby to term, and their follow-up debate over the limits of what qualifies as being part of the food court.
  • Sexual Karma: Shannon by the end is the target of sex in a very uncomfortable place. Well, places; it happens in prison.
  • Shapeshifting Squick: Brodie thinks entirely too much about the love life of Reed Richards and Susan Storm.
    • And The Thing.
  • Shout-Out
    • The silent mall cop is named LaFours, after the unseen lawman in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid to the point of wearing a straw hat. This was nodded to in a conversation between Jay and Brodie that was deleted, but can be seen on the extended edition DVD:
    Jay: Is LaFours out there?
    Brodie: No.
    Jay: Good. For a minute there, I thought we were in trouble.
    • After hoisting them to safety on his grappling hook, Jay asks Silent Bob where he gets those wonderful toys.
  • Silent Antagonist: LaFours doesn't say a word in the film. He could almost be considered an Evil Counterpart to Silent Bob.
  • Sock It to Them: "Phase one: First you take a run at La Fours with a sock full of quarters. I'd do it, but I pulled my back out humping your mom last night. Nootch. Okay, you clock him on his headpiece and knock his ass out cold. That's when phase two kicks in. I attack the structure Wolvie-Berzerk style, and knock out the fuckin' pin and bickety bam, the motherfucker is rubble. Hence, no game show."
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: "Like the back of a Volkswagen?"
    • Also, a singular example:
    Gwen: Didn't I look just like Burt Reynolds?
    Brodie and T.S.: (Beat) Except for the mustache.
    • The female clerk at the lingerie shop who goes "I know exactly how he feels" and runs off crying after witnessing Brodie explain his relationship with Rene in terms of sleeping beside each other.
  • Tagline: "They're not there to shop. They're not there to work. They're just there."
  • Take That!: In the scene at the dirt mall, T.S. tries on a cap before throwing it away in disgust. The cap has Clerks written on it; the cap was made during the filming of Clerks.
  • Third-Party Peacekeeper: T.S. and his girlfriend Brandi break up after a fight about her replacing a contestant on her father's ripoff of The Dating Game, after the original contestant died note . Brody tells Brandi, after he and T.S. have gotten themselves on the show, that T.S. has done nothing but pine for her all day, and encourages the two of them to get back together, which they do.
  • Those Two Guys: Jay and Silent Bob again.
  • Title Drop: By Shannon Hamilton, the proprietor of Fashionable Male. "You're one of those loser fucking mallrat kids."
    That's it, you're dead, mallrat! I am gonna fuck you up beyond repair!
  • Triple Nipple: The topless psychic credits her powers to her third nipple, eventually revealed to be fake (and gum).
  • Uncanny Family Resemblance: The guy going against Brodie and TS in the game show is Gil Hicks, played by Brian O'Halloran. This is the same actor who starred as Dante in Clerks, and the two characters share a last name. Word of God is they're cousins, along with two other characters played by O'Halloran in the View Askewniverse (Jim in Chasing Amy and Grant in Dogma) sharing the same last name.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: We not only hear Jay and Silent Bob's plan, but we actually see the drawings. They are, naturally, doomed to fail.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue
    • In Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back Brodie has a Variety on the wall of his comic shop which headlines him leaving the Tonight Show. Rene became the band leader for the show... and was well-liked by his mother.
    • Jay and Silent Bob's misadventures with a monkey were elaborated on in the interquel comic Chasing Dogma - which was partially reused for the same subplot in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.
    • Willam eventually saw the sailboat.note 
  • Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: Quoted almost exactly from Jay to Silent Bob.
  • Writing Around Trademarks: Likely the reason why much of the stores seen in the mall are either fictitious or shot so you don't see their names. Also, while the network Svenning is pitching Truth or Date to isn't named, it's implied to be NBC given the epilogue (a scene in the Extended Cut has a guy from NBC asking TS if they can make a cheesy TV movie about the Governor's Ball, however).
  • You ALL Look Familiar: Mocked in the audio commentary - T.S. has a scene with a random construction worker who happens to be wearing the exact same outfit.
    Jason Lee: "He's the Heavy Metal version of T.S.!"
  • Zany Scheme: Jay cooks up a couple of these in order to incapacitate LaFours, complete with old-school-cartoon-style blueprints. A book was released in the 2010s featuring more blueprints drawn up by Jay, Jay and Silent Bob's Blueprints for Destroying Everything.

"That kid is back on the escalator again!"