The least appreciated of Kevin Smith's films, this take on the risqué teen comedy was derided for its mystifying fan-boy humour and general lack of class (not even receiving a cinematic release in the UK). Even Smith himself apologised - half jokingly - for his apparent misstep. Yet this sparky if flawed effort deserves re-evaluation.
Like his acclaimed debut "Clerks", Smith's tale of recently dumped teen slackers getting up to mischief in a mall has a similarly thin premise and contains the same crude, pop culture-obsessed humour. However, now backed by a studio and with a studio's criteria to fill (ie a wide audience and profit), what was enterprising indie fare in "Clerks" was clearly perceived as clumsy and wasted.
Given the loss of "Clerks"' on-the-hoof film-making and a clearly more expensive, glossy look, "Mallrats" couldn't look less like its predecessor - but that's not the point.
Smith's films are more about an attitude, and it's clearly retained here, brilliantly embodied by ex-pro skateboarder and Smith regular Jason Lee as mall veteran and comic book obsessive Brodie ("I love the smell of commerce in the morning!").
With a cast of actors now rather than mates, some struggle with Smith's trademark irreverence - especially Doherty as Brodie's ex and the bland London as sidekick TS - yet the doper antics of Jay and Silent Bob provide much anarchic fun, and there's a smug early turn from Ben Affleck.
By no means a mess, "Mallrats" easily maintains Smith's strengths of dialogue and ribald humour, if highlighting his directorial weakness of badly paced scenes. To complete the re-evaluation, then: hardly a collapse, more an amusing trip-up.