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‘Mallrats’ (R)

By Desson Howe
Washington Post Staff Writer
October 20, 1995

In "Clerks," Kevin Smith's raunchy cult hit, we were introduced to the high-profanity, bottom-feeding lives of two funny convenience store cashiers: Dante (Brian O'Halloran) and Randal (Jeff Anderson). We met some other great characters, too, including benevolently psychotic Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (played by Smith).

"Mallrats," Smith's sort-of follow-up, brings back most of the old gang (with the disappointing exception of Anderson—the real star of "Clerks"), and re-spins that movie's zesty, slacker-satirical humor.

But "Mallrats" is a sentimental encore rather than a bright, repeat performance. Between the routines and retorts, there's a lot of narrative dead air—and far too many new guests. Joining the Smith bandwagon are the slumming Shannen Doherty, Michael Rooker (the creepy star of "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer"), Jeremy London, Jason Lee and comic-book auteur Stan Lee. All these characters—while amusing—tend to crowd the mall.

Somewhere in the suburban sprawl of New Jersey, T.S. (London) has been dumped by Brandi (Claire Forlani). His brother, Brodie (Lee, a professional skateboarder-turned-actor), has been dear-Johned by Rene (Doherty).

The rejected sibs retreat to the mall to lick their wounds (and also try a new cookie they've heard about). When they discover their ex-es are also on the premises (Brandi's taping a TV dating show, Rene's messing around with a new guy already), they decide to take appropriate action with the help (or hindrance) of Jay and Silent Bob.

As in "Clerks," there are amusing references to "Star Wars," pseudo-philosophical questions (the volatile consequences of Lois Lane becoming impregnated by Superman, for example) and the requisite gross-out expression (it's called the "stink palm," and that's all I care to tell you). This particular mall, we find out, has a topless psychic. If she tells you bad tidings, Brodie explains, her nudity "makes the news easier to take." But I'm guessing even die-hard "Clerks" fans will find this only-in-America stuff only partially satisfying, like something they gorged on at the Eatery, then wished they hadn't. And then there's that one question—at least, for me—which remains unanswered: Where is Randal?

MALLRATS (R) — Contains nudity, lewdness, profanity and vomiting.

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