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Chasing Amy (1997)

  Directed by: Kevin Smith
Written by: Kevin Smith
Starring: Joey Lauren Adams, Ben Affleck, Jason Lee
Links: Chasing Amy on the IMDb, Official site, Buy on Video, Buy on DVD
Genre: Romance

This movie gets: 8.00 (1 rating) Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

Chasing Amy (1997) is also mentioned in pearly's review of Vanilla Sky (2001).

"Charming" - a review by mino

I've mentioned before, in my review of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001), how divisive the films of Kevin Smith are. There don't seem to be many folk who think highly of all the films Smith has made, and Chasing Amy is no exception. The biggest complaint made about it is that, well, it's kind of inaccurate.

Because of the basic plot of Chasing Amy — boy meets girl, boy falls for girl, boy finds out that girl likes other girls, boy pursues girl anyway — I think a lot of people take it in a totally different way to me. People, particularly given Smith's reputation as ‘one of us’ (a regular schlub making movies, not some hoity-toity auteur), somehow expect something particular of his films: almost like they should side with the watcher no matter what, and stick it to the man whenever possible — but to stick it to the right man. People seem to get offended if Smith's depiction of something doesn't exactly match their own perspective far more than they would for other directors.

Much as some overly sensitive sould saw Dogma (1999) as insensitively poking fun at religion, I think some folk feel that because Amy touches on such a personal subject as homosexuality, it needs to treat everything with kid gloves and be perfectly politically correct. ‘Lesbian's can't choose whether they'll be interested in boys or girls!’ they wail. ‘It's the way they are!’

You know what? Take a chill pill. Chasing Amy isn't a relationship drama. Despite the fact that no-one seems to realise this, it is, in fact, a romantic comedy. It's about people falling in love. Lots of funny things happen. Sure, there's some semi-serious musings on the nature of love, but largely it's funny. Funny and romantic. The fact that one of the characters is a lesbian adds to the comedy, and provides a dramatic device to make the love story into a quest, if you like. I mean, there's not a romantic comedy alive where people don't have problems to overcome; otherwise, they'd last about four minutes apiece. Just chill out, relax, and enjoy a highly amusing, wonderfully written, engaging little charmer of a film, which is exactly what Chasing Amy is.

There is the odd hurdle to overcome in order to enjoy Chasing Amy, of course, not the least of them being Joey Lauren Adams's voice (yes, that's very shallow of me: live with it). For those of us familiar with the work of Ben Affleck, of course, there's another hurdle, but Amy is probably one of his better roles. He's perfectly suited to the slightly awkward but largely likeable comic-writing putz role of Holden — and Affleck being perfectly suited to anything is such a rare treat that it's another reason to kick back and enjoy the movie. The real standout, though, is Jason Lee as Banky, Holden's flatmate, inker, and comic foil. While the character of Banky isn't anything that hasn't been done before — basically just an insensitive, insulting, over-the-top buffoon who has no idea how not to offend people with his crass, poorly-thought-through remarks — the fact is, Lee's absolutely cornered the market on this type of role, and is astoundingly funny. Lee really is a cut above when it comes to ‘angy young man’, and his performance is surely the highlight of the film.

While overall, the movie is a little patchy (some scenes just don't ‘click’), on the whole Chasing Amy is great fun, made more so by the refreshing (and, dare I say it, guy-friendly) slant on the whole romantic comedy genre given by Kevin Smith's excellent ear for funny dialogue that, while occasionally outlandish, always rings somehow true.

The moral of the story? Give up on your ideas of how a movie dealing with ‘alternative sexualities’ should play out, sit down, and enjoy one of the finest, most accessible, broadly appealing romantic comedies ever produced.

mino gives this movie 8 out of 10.
Review created on Thu 8 Apr 2004

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