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such a nasty woman | by maryann johanson

Chasing Amy (review)

X Follies

Here’s a great example of that entrepreneurial Gen-X attitude I’ve talked about before, once or twice. Writer/director Kevin Smith (he of Clerks fame and Mallrats infamy) made Chasing Amy for $250,000 without Hollywood’s hindrance, and the guy also runs a comic book shop, Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash, in Red Bank, New Jersey. Too cool!

I think it’s safe, then, to put Kevin Smith in the vanguard of that particular subset of Generation X that’s informed by a comic book/science fiction/pop culture attitude — the group that venerates Yoda, thinks even Tim Burton’s Batman is too lighthearted, gets the joke of the Home Shopping Channel, and remains ungeeky enough to actually have a life. Clerks — with its great “Is Luke Skywalker a war criminal?” debate — flirted with this attitude, and Chasing Amy wouldn’t exist without it.
Holden McNeil (Ben Affleck) and Banky Edwards (Jason Lee) self-publish a successful comic, Bluntman & Chronic. They hang out with other comic professionals, sign autographs for ungrateful fans at comic conventions, and get to wear old t-shirts to the office (which also doubles as their apartment — or is the apartment that doubles as the office?). Not just business partners but best friends forever, Holden and Banky are facing a double-barreled crisis. Banky wants to sell out Bluntman & Chronic as a television cartoon; Holden wants to retain creative control and keep the book as it is. But even worse, a woman is threatening to ruin their friendship.

Alyssa Jones (Joey Lauren Adams) is gorgeous, funny, smart, a fellow comic artist, and she hails from Holden’s hometown — they know, like, so many people in common. Holden is madly in love.

And, oh yeah, she’s gay.

Can men and women ever be “just friends”? What actually constitutes virginity? Is Star Wars racist, or does the presence of Lando Calrissian belie that? These questions are important to those of us under 30, and we take the search for answers seriously. Make Holden and Banky and Alyssa ten years older — in other words, make them Boomers — and you’ve got Seinfeld. But where Seinfeld‘s characters are snide and sarcastic and self-involved, Chasing Amy‘s are earnest without being boring.

Or maybe you just have to have graduated high school when skinny ties and Billy Idol were in to get it.

And hey, Ben Affleck is another Gen X standup: Everyone now knows how he and the other golden boy du jour, Matt Damon, wrote Good Will Hunting while sleeping on friends’ couches, lobbied to get the film produced with themselves starring, and won an Oscar for their efforts. (Damon, by the way, has a blink-and-you-miss-it cameo in Chasing Amy.)

Note to Ben Affleck: Go back to the goatee and longer hair you had in Chasing Amy. It’s way cuter than that clean-shaven George Clooney look you’ve been sporting lately.

[reader comments on this review]

Watch Chasing Amy online using LOVEFiLM’s streaming service.

viewed at home on a small screen

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