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 »
Release Date: April 18, 1997 (USA)
Filming Locations: New York City, NY, USA
Budget: $250,000 (estimated)
Opening Weekend: $52,446 (USA) (April 4, 1997)
Gross: $12,006,514 (USA) (September 26, 1997)
Production Co: Too Askew Prod. Inc., View Askew Productions
Runtime: 113 min
Sound Mix: Dolby Digital
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. [https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Chasing%20Amy%20Syndrome]
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] https://www.quora.com/Is-Kevin-Smiths-Holden-McNeil-character-really-based-on-J-D-Salingers-Holden-Caulfield]
In his June, 1999 review of the movie, Dan Grant (email@example.com) 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?
Discuss Chasing Amy (1997) on the IMDb message boards here
Read about CHASING AMY on the Internet Movie Data Base at On IMDB
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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