"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 24 October 1995. Updated every WEEKDAY.

Welcome to the End of Film

"After our success with Clerks we
felt it was very important to do
something different by doing
something generic with our own

- Mallrats writer/director
  Kevin Smith 

Our premise was simple: we'd

choose randomly from the current

glut of youth demographic-

pandering films now

flooding the theaters,

smirk at their folly, and use

their Web sites as easy fodder

for an umpteenth rant on the

misguided insanity of contrived

lifestyle marketing.

Predictably, our own homespun

brainless scheme backfired to

the tune of $8 each (plus cab



Scanning through the paper

before our evening out, we

found a mess of likely



To Die For, with direction by the

stalwart cultural icon Gus Van

Sant, seemed an obvious choice.

Nicole Kidman + doped-up

juvenile delinquents + ironic

moral fable on the dangers of

coveting media glory = ideal

strawman for a screed on

remarketing River's Edge to a

fresh 90's consumer. This plan

turned out to be lethally flawed

for two reasons. Having surfed

the site, we came to realize

that there was a very real

danger that the film might

actually be pretty good. And

more importantly, we'd just

missed the next showing...


For a few minutes Greg Araki's

newest film, The Doom

Generation, screamed for

attention as the finest target

for our critical attention. The

ad, with its "Sex. Mayhem.

Whatever." tagline, Details

magazine typeface, outrageously

shameless pullquotes

("The Lollapalooza Movie."

- Alternative Press), and

Alternative Nation soundtrack,

couldn't have been more

commanding if it had reached out

and savagely yanked our nipple



Moreover, The Doom Generation was

not so alternative as to omit

the now-mandatory film ad URL.

Unfortunately, every plan has

its flaw - in this case, the

movie doesn't start until

Friday. Which is too bad,

considering that this film looks

to be more philosophically

stimulating than Araki's

previous snoozers. If you don't

believe us, check out this

snippet of dialogue (transcribed

from a QT clip on the promo


"Why the hell do you have Jesus
tattooed on your dick?" 

"So people, when I'm boning 'em,
 can say, 'I got Jesus inside me.'" 



Seven was momentarily considered,

but we weren't in the mood for

comedy and, besides, everybody's

seen both the movie and the

website already. The general

consensus is of the worst type -

general indifference.


Which left us with only one

viable option: Kevin Smith's

pseudo-sequel to Clerks,

Mallrats. Now, Clerks was a

horribly acted, barely scripted

film that managed, by virtue of

some inspiringly banal dialogue,

to entertain almost in spite of

itself. As a glaringly

low-budget production, every

good line seemed like a miracle

and, at the very least, it

provided further evidence that

credit cards can contribute

towards something more

substantial than clearing one's

debt with the DMV.


Mallrats, unfortunately, is just

plain bad. With a plot loosely

lifted from Fast Times at

Ridgemont High and an approach

to acting and physical humor

reminiscent of weaker episodes

of Saved By The Bell, Mallrats

is the sort of failure we find

no pleasure rejoicing in. Smith

doesn't come off as an

opportunistic trendhopper as a

director or an actor, he just

seems to have miscalculated the

wisdom of attempting to craft a

film with mainstream appeal.


"After our success with Clerks,

we felt it was very important to

do something different by doing

something generic with our own

spin," he explains on the

Mallrats site, only

too keenly articulating the

flawed reasoning that ruined this

film. Mallrats would be an ABC

Afterschool Special if the

characters were less enamored of

sexist locker-room homilies and

weren't so prone to telling each

other the varied ways they can

fuck themselves. Actually, maybe

it would be a slightly hipper

lost episode of 90210.


In the end, it doesn't much

matter. One of two worst-case

scenarios is likely: either a)

Mallrats will be successful

enough to encourage Smith's more

pedestrian tendencies, or b)

it'll bring in jack at the box

office and Smith will have gone

quickly from a newcomer-to-watch

to has-been in the space of less

than a year. Judging from the

preoccupations voiced in the

film, we'll be quick to advise

him to try his luck in a less

vigorously scrutinized medium,

and one that he obvious feels

strongly for - superhero comic



Next time we decide to pour some

of our hard-earned dough into

the coffers of the film

industry, we've resolved to

scrupulously avoid any film with

a website. By our reasoning, any

self-respecting site producer

will have taken all the best

scenes and made them available

as flattened QuickTime clips,

obviating the need to actually

see the movie.


That's the odd position we're in:

over a year after the unveiling

of Waxweb, we expected more than

trailers on the Web, but the

trailers are the best part.

Maybe if some of us learn how

to write for the medium...

courtesy of the Duke of URL