Monday, September 24, 2012
MOVIE OF THE WEEK: Chasing Amy
"Chasing Amy" is an impressive movie. On the surface, it looks like just another raunchy comedy, but look further and you will find one of the smartest romcoms/dramas/comedies ever made. Kevin Smith is a rare talent. He somehow manages to mix that stoner comedy aesthetic with bracing social commentary on par with some of Hollywood’s best writers. It’s those little moments when he explores those social issues that really elevate his films above the other mass appeal comedies. One moment he's tickling your funny bone, the next he is testing your brain with brilliant intellectual insight and other times, he’s tugging the heart strings with a touching love story. While this film tackles all these different genres, it’s the underlying romance that makes it so compelling. At its core, this film is about opening up your mind and heart to the love that you deserve.
Playing the romantic leads are Ben Affleck and Joey Lauren Adams, who are both a pleasure to watch. Affleck brings the perfect average Joe sensibility to the role, while Adams picked up a well-earned Golden Globe nomination for her complex, relatable portrayal. Affleck’s character Holden McNeil represents the majority of society who have been trained to accept certain social customs as the only norm. This world view of traditional heterosexual relationships is turned upside down however, when he meets Adams' character Alyssa Jones, a promiscuous lesbian. As their relationship develops, their dialogue provides fascinating insight into our perceptions of "true" love and addresses our unease with homosexuality. Alyssa challenges him to look past his prejudices and by proxy, Smith is also posing the challenge to us. This movie asks us to address our own misgivings about people. Why is an experimental high school girl doomed to be called a slut forever, while men are "studs" for banging tons of chicks? Why are we so fundamentally dismissive of homosexual relationships? These are just a mere sampling of the ideas that this film brings up as we study these 2 characters. In addition, we are engaged with expertly written supporting characters like Banky Edwards (played by Jason Lee) and Hooper X (Dwight Ewell). Banky is Holden's homophobic best friend who is jealous of his buddy's new infatuation, while Hooper is a black gay comic book writer forced to play a tough straight guy to make it in the business. As Smith explores these characters, he provides even further food for thought.
What I’m trying to say is, this comedy is deep! If you told me that I would get so much intellectual stimulation out of this film, I wouldn’t believe you. Of course, the film won’t necessarily inspire you to go out and experiment with "alternative" lifestyles, but it does a good job at illuminating different points of view. "Chasing Amy" is a smart, honest and deeply touching examination of humanity.