Chasing Amy
directed by Kevin Smith
(View Askew, 1997)

It would be a dream come true for a lot of men. Holden McNeil (Ben Affleck) makes a reasonably good living drawing superhero comic books along with his best friend and roommate Banky Edwards (Jason Lee). He has a beautiful girlfriend, Alyssa Jones (Joey Lauren Adams), who he lured from a dedicated lesbian lifestyle into a very committed, giddy romance. What could be better?

But Holden is a guy, and, of course, guys can never leave well enough alone. After some unfortunate meddling by Banky, who seems unreasonably jealous of Alyssa's presence in Holden's life, Holden pushes things too far and succeeds in undoing just about every aspect of his once ideal life.

Then he comes up with a solution he thinks will put everything back together again, if only he can convince Alyssa and Banky to play along....

The details of his plan are for you to learn for yourself -- along with its degree of success. But Chasing Amy, the third in director Kevin Smith's series of fun, thought-provoking films, is not to be missed by anyone who's ever foolishly loused up a good thing.

Affleck is very convincing as a basically decent guy who has occasional lapses of extreme cluelessness. Adams is also excellent, both as an unapologetic and nonmonogamous lesbian and as a love-sotted heterosexual girlfriend. And Lee is believable, if incredibly annoying, as the tempermental and argumentative roomie.

There is also a good performance by Dwight Ewell as Hooper, a gentle gay man who conceals his reality behind the facade of an angry black man. Jason Mewes and director Smith also make a brief but vital appearance (explaining, among other things, the meaning of the film's title) as Jay and Silent Bob, whose surprising insights send Holden in the right direction, if perhaps the wrong track.

Everyone watching Chasing Amy may come away with a completely different conclusion about the film's ultimate conclusion, as well as its message on hope vs. hopelessness. But it's certainly an insightful look at the mechanics of relationships, jealousy and self-doubt. People who missed Smith's earlier films (Clerks, Mallrats) may miss a few in-jokes, but that shouldn't stop anyone from popping Chasing Amy into the VCR.

[ by Tom Knapp ]



Buy it from Amazon.com.