Top critical review
I think Kevin Smith is a great writer
on February 28, 2002
but I really hated this movie.
I think it's full of promise that quite simply goes unfulfilled, and I am astonished that so many people feel as passionately positive as they do about it.
And don't get me wrong, I'm not one of those people that loves to dislike stuff just to be contrary; i'm not one of those [people] who writes negative reviews just for the "pleasure" of raining on the parade... Too many people have told me how wrong I am, how I missed the point, how this little gem somehow escaped me. I've watched it six times. I've listened to the commentary track on the DVD. I even had the pleasure of hearing Kevin Smith give an informal chat a couple years ago, and he had some great, interesting things to say about the film.
But the movie just doesn't work for me for several distinct reasons.
First of all, these are some really interesting characters. They're artists who have made some success for themselves. And yet most of what they talk about boils down to: "wow, a straight guy is in love with a lesbian, what DOES this mean?" During the course of the movie, they discuss little else.
Banky and Holden view homosexuality on about a fifth grade level. It's like neither one of them have ever been out of the house before. With so little knowledge of the world, how did they ever find such a cool place to live? The extent of their ignorance is pretty ridiculous and unconvincing.
Yes, I know, their limitations serve the story so that Holden can see the light and learn something at the end... but what he learns is the kind of pat lesson that's usually followed by the expression, "Duh..."
And, yes, I know there are people like Banky and Holden all over the place. That doesn't mean I want to see a movie about idiots.
On the flip side, the ideas the movie puts forward about homosexuality are smug, simplistic and self-serving. And the movie doesn't play straight with the issues, either, because in the end the thing that comes between Holden and Alyssa isn't the fact that she's a lesbian; what really comes between them is the fact that Alyssa used to have wild sex with guys Holden didn't like. So, basically, the whole homosexuality subtext gets the "bait-and-switch" treatment and that makes the whole movie ring false.
Like I said, these are interesting characters. It's a shame they aren't given something real to talk about. Instead, they mug, they ACT up a storm in the parking lot, they do schtick, they do the montage thing, they throw darts at a target that appears to be three feet off the floor....
But I've argued my points with fans of the movie across so many tables, I've seen Janet Maslin congratulate Quentin Tarantino on TV for having the good sense to like "Chasing Amy," and I've been subjected to the shaking heads of people who mutter, "It's a great movie, man, you just don't get it."
I do get it. I just wish there was MORE to get.