Chasing Amy (1997)

A review by Shlomoh Sherman
November 6, 2016

Chasing Amy (1997)
Director: Kevin Smith
Writer: Kevin Smith
Stars: Ben Affleck, Joey Lauren Adams, Ethan Suplee
Plot Summary: Holden and Banky are comic book artists. Everything's going good for them until they meet Alyssa, also a comic book artist. Holden falls for her but his hopes are crushed when he finds out she's gay.
Plot Keywords: comic book - gay - lesbian - friendship - secret
Tagline: It's not who you love. It's how.
Genres: Comedy - Drama - Romance
Motion Picture Rating: (MPAA)
Rated R for strong graphic sex-related dialogue, language, sexuality and drug content
Parents Guide: View content advisory »
Country: USA
Language: English
Release Date: April 18, 1997 (USA)
Filming Locations: New York City, NY, USA
Box Office:
Budget: $250,000 (estimated)
Opening Weekend: $52,446 (USA) (April 4, 1997)
Gross: $12,006,514 (USA) (September 26, 1997)
Company Credits:
Production Co: Too Askew Prod. Inc., View Askew Productions
Technical Specs:
Runtime: 113 min
Sound Mix: Dolby Digital
Color: Technicolor
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Other 5 wins and 15 nominations. For details on these wins and nominations, check HERE


I've only recently become a fan of Kevin Smith after having watched CLERKS for the second time and then seeing [and reviewing] DOGMA.

Both of these films are well written and very funny. And that's it. They are written for laughs although Smith, as well as some of his folowers, may believe that DOGMA contains some great truthfull and serious religious message. It does not [in my opinion]. It uses religion as a foil to elicit laughs. The fact that Smith hired George Carlin, lapsed Catholic and militant atheist, to play a ridiculous caricature of a Catholic cardinal, drives that message home to me.

Chasing Amy is in a different league altogether. There is nothing funny about the movie in general regardless of some moments of injected humor on the part of Jason Mewes in his scene with Silent Bob [not so silent here].

Unlike the two previous movies mentioned, Chasing Amy is a real story about two people in love. Holden McNeil and Banky Edwards are two cult comic-book artists who are also room-mates. When Holden meets Alyssa Jones, another comic book artist, he is immediately attracted to her and they become fast friends. A problem develops when Holden finds himself deeply in love with Alyssa, knowing that she is a lesbian.

Eventually Holden finds it difficult to contain his passion for Alyssa and he announces his love for her. Initially Alyssa's righteous anger rises since she feels this declared passionate love is a betrayal of their friendship as Holden is well aware of her sexual orientation.

Unexpectedly Alyssa has a change of heart and realizes that despite her gay lifestyle, she too is in love with Holden. They quickly become romantically involved and this is where a problem develops for Holden. When Alyssa's lesbian friends find out that she is involved with a man, they shut her out of their circle. And as if this weren't bad enough, Banky, Holden's friend and room-mate, becomes highly possessive of Holden, fearing that his relationship with Alyssa will ruin their friendship, and Banky goes out of his way to destroy the love that Holden and Alyssa have created.

Banky has inadvertently discovered that when she was in high school, Alyssa engaged in multiple sex with two of her classmates, and he uses this information to cause a rift between the lovers.

Alyssa is Holden's first real romantic relationship and he does not receive the news of what he considers her teen age sexual indiscretion well. He meets up with his friends, Silent Bob and Jay, in a diner, and tells them of his sad situation. In a rare soliloquy, given that Smith usually keeps Bob silent in his films, Silent Bob tells him that he is suffering from the CHASING AMY syndrome. The syndrome typically happens when the female in the relationship is far more sexualy experienced than the male because of sexual stereotypes and cultural expectations. Its symptoms manifest as feelings of inadequacie due to woman's wider sexual experience, fixation on her sexual past, and irrational jealousy of past her lovers. Sometimes these symptoms produce a need, on the part of the male, to push his own sexual boundaries so as to feel "on par" with the woman. []

Holden acknowledges these feelings, and he also begins to suspect that Banky's jealousy may be prompted by his own homo-erotic feelings for him.

I will not explain the denoument of this story but will add that Kevin Smith's handling of it, given the circumstances of Alyssa's wide experience and Holden's lack thereof, seems true to life.

The leading male character in the movie is named Holden, an unusual name for a man. Of course the most famous Holden in literature is Holden Caulfield, the teenage protagonist and narrator of J. D. Salinger's 1951 novel, THE CATCHER IN THE RYE. Since the book's publication, Holden has become an icon for teenage rebellion and angst, and now stands among the most important characters of 20th-century American literature. "Smith has said on several occasions that he was greatly influenced by Catcher in the Rye as a writer. He has also stated that he took the name Holden from Salinger's character. Beyond that I would speculate that Smith sees his Holden more as being spiritually descended from Caulfield than an actual Caulfield analogue." [Ryan Stothard, dude with dreams] "There's some mentions of this in various articles on the web, including Wikipedia and on the Kevin Smith Wikia. I'm a little skeptical of these claims. While Holden McNeil is intelligent but socially naive in a somewhat similar way to Holden Caufield, McNeil doesn't strike me as particularly rebellious, angsty or as an underachiever." [author of statement unknown]]

In his June, 1999 review of the movie, Dan Grant ( has this to say:

"For anyone who thought that Ben Affleck couldn't act, watch this movie and enjoy how he plays Holden. He is honest in his approach to a character that is as complex as any great movie character ... Kevin Smith's strength is that he knows how people talk and he is honest in his assessment of his characters. And that is what makes this film the gem that it is."

KUDOS to Joey Lauren Adams as Alyssa Jones; she is extremely pretty and very talented, and brings the right mixture of giddiness and seriousness which makes the audience very sympathetic to her.

KUDOS to Brian O'Halloran as executive Jim Hicks. Brian is best remembered for his role of Dante Hicks in CLERKS.

KUDOS to Ben Affleck and Matt Damon [as the second executive]. As I pointed out in my review of [ DOGMA , I think these two are rather puffed up about themselves, and Affleck has shown himself to be a self-righteous blowhard on Bill Maher's show. Nevertheless, they are very talented actors in a variety of genres.

As with the other two Kevin Smith films that I have seen, I highly recommend CHASING AMY if you have not already seen it. And if you have, revisiting it is not a bad idea.

Did You Know?

During the argument between Alyssa and Holden outside of the hockey game, Alyssa mentions that's she had let Shannon Hamilton videotape them having sex, only to have him broadcast the video on their college campus cable station. Ben Affleck plays Shannon Hamilton in Mallrats (1995) where he also is videotaped having sex (with Alyssa's sister Tricia, no less) and it's broadcast during a dating game show in the local mall.
Kevin Smith wrote the script inspired by his experience with then-girlfriend Joey Lauren Adams.
Chasing Amy is Kevin Smith's personal favorite movie of his own.
This is the third film in Kevin Smith's intricately interconnected View Askewniverse series (the others being Clerks (1994), Mallrats (1995), Dogma (1999), Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001) and Clerks II (2006)). The movies are all linked by characters, themes and events and each contains numerous references to the others.
The scene between Alyssa, Holden and Banky at the nightclub discussing problems with oral sex was originally written for Mallrats (1995), between T.S., Brodie, and Gwen. Brodie and Banky were both played by Jason Lee and Alyssa and Gwen were both played by Joey Lauren Adams.
Carmen Llywelyn who played Kim, Alyssa's lesbian lover, was the wife of star Jason Lee (credited as Carmen Lee). Joey Lauren Adams who played Alyssa was director Kevin Smith's girlfriend.
Joey Lauren Adams wrote the song she sings. It was originally a country song but Kevin Smith requested they pump it up a bit.
One of Banky's hecklers at the beginning of the movie (accusing him of being a tracer) is Ben Affleck's younger brother Casey Affleck.
Holden and Banky are both characters in J.D. Salinger's novel, "The Catcher in the Rye". (In the novel, "Ed Banky" was a gym teacher who would let students borrow his car so they could make out and have sex with their girlfriends.)
During the argument between Alyssa and Holden outside of the hockey game, Alyssa mentions that she left her prom early to have sex with her date and Gwen Turner. Joey Lauren Adams played Gwen Turner in Mallrats.
Towards the end of the movie while Banky is signing autographs, you can hear a lady say over the intercom that a little boy has been stuck in an escalator, which is a reference to Mallrats where Jason Lee's character goes on a rant about parents not watching their kids and how unsupervised kids could get stuck in an escalator.
Silent Bob (despite his name) has one of the longest speeches in the movie

While Holden and Amy are throwing darts at the bar in front of the restrooms, only men are using the women's room and only women are using the men's room.
When Silent Bob starts telling his "Chasing Amy" story Jay, asks about the story as if he's never heard it, yet when they are leaving the diner Jay asks him why he keeps telling the story.
When Holden first tells Banky he loves Alyssa, Holden takes a drag on his cigarette and never exhales. He even talks a minute later with no smoke coming out of his mouth.
When Holden and Banky are in the office with the executives, Exec. #1 isn't wearing a watch, but can be seen later on in this scene, where we can see a watch on his left wrist.
When Holden is walking back to his car shortly after Alyssa leaves him in the rain, the camera crew is reflected in the window slightly to the left of Holden.

Holden: I love you. And not, not in a friendly way, although I think we're great friends. And not in a misplaced affection, puppy-dog way, although I'm sure that's what you'll call it. I love you. Very, very simple, very truly. You are the-the epitome of everything I have ever looked for in another human being. And I know that you think of me as just a friend, and crossing that line is-is-is the furthest thing from an option you would ever consider. But I had to say it. I just, I can't take this anymore. I can't stand next to you without wanting to hold you. I can't-I can't look into your eyes without feeling that-that longing you only read about in trashy romance novels. I can't talk to you without wanting to express my love for everything you are. And I know this will probably queer our friendship - no pun intended - but I had to say it, 'cause I've never felt this way before, and I-I don't care. I like who I am because of it. And if bringing this to light means we can't hang out anymore, then that hurts me. But God, I just, I couldn't allow another day to go by without just getting it out there, regardless of the outcome, which by the look on your face is to be the inevitable shoot-down. And, you know, I'll accept that. But I know, I know that some part of you is hesitating for a moment, and if there's a moment of hesitation, then that means you feel something too. And all I ask, please, is that you just - you just not dismiss that, and try to dwell in it for just ten seconds. Alyssa, there isn't another soul on this fucking planet who has ever made me half the person I am when I'm with you, and I would risk this friendship for the chance to take it to the next plateau. Because it is there between you and me. You can't deny that. Even if, you know, even if we never talk again after tonight, please know that I am forever changed because of who you are and what you've meant to me, which - while I do appreciate it - I'd never need a painting of birds bought at a diner to remind me of.
Silent Bob: So there's me and Amy, and we're all inseparable, right? Just big time in love. And then four months down the road, the idiot gear kicks in, and I ask about the ex-boyfriend. Which, as we all know, is a really dumb move. But you know how it is: you don't wanna know, but you just have to, right? Stupid guy bullshit. So, anyway, she starts telling me about him... how they fell in love, and how they went out for a couple of years, and how they lived together, her mother likes me better, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah... and I'm okay. But then she drops the bomb on me, and the bomb is this: it seems that a couple of times, while they were going out, he brought some people to bed with them. Ménage à trois, I believe it's called. Now this just blows my mind, right? I mean, I am not used to this sort of thing. I mean, I was raised Catholic, for God's sake. So I'm totally weirded out by this, right? And then I just start blasting her. Like... I don't know how to deal with what I'm feeling, so I figure the best way is by calling her a slut, right? And tell her she was used. I'm... I'm out for blood. I really wanna hurt this girl. I'm like, "What the fuck is your problem?", right? And she's just all calmly trying to tell me, like, it was that time and it was that place and she doesn't think she should apologize because she doesn't feel that she's done anything wrong. I'm like, "Oh, really?" That's when I look her straight in the eye, I tell her it's over. I walk.
Hooper: Always some white boy gotta invoke the holy trilogy. Bust this: Those movies are about how the white man keeps the brother man down, even in a galaxy far, far away. Check this shit: You got cracker farm boy Luke Skywalker, Nazi poster boy, blond hair, blue eyes. And then you got Darth Vader, the blackest brother in the galaxy, Nubian god! Now... Vader, he's a spiritual brother, y'know, down with the force and all that good shit. Then this cracker, Skywalker, gets his hands on a light saber and the boy decides he's gonna run the fuckin' universe; gets a whole clan of whites together. And they go and bust up Vader's hood, the Death Star. Now what the fuck do you call that? Gentrification! They gon' drive out the black element to make the galaxy quote, unquote, safe for white folks. And Jedi's the most insulting installment! Because Vader's beautiful black visage is sullied when he pulls off his mask to reveal a feeble, crusty, old white man! They tryin' to tell us that deep inside we all wants to be white!

Message Boards:
Recent Posts
The ending was horrible, also lots of ridiculous scenarios.- groovybruceman
'I won't be your whore!' can someone explain this - paulmer
Any relation to Mallrats? - EpsilonX
Why do most people feel sorry for Holden but not Alyssa? - cubefn

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ethan Suplee ... Fan
Ben Affleck ... Holden McNeil
Joey Lauren Adams ... Alyssa Jones
Scott Mosier ... Collector
Jason Lee ... Banky Edwards
Casey Affleck ... Little Kid
Dwight Ewell ... Hooper X
Guinevere Turner ... Singer
Carmen Llywelyn ... Kim (as Carmen Lee)
Brian O'Halloran ... Jim Hicks - Executive #1
Matt Damon ... Shawn Oran - Executive #2
Alexander Goebbel ... Train Kid
Tony Torn ... Cashier
Rebecca Waxman ... Dalia
Paris Petrick ... Tory
Jason Mewes ... Jay
Kevin Smith ... Silent Bob

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