Both dumped by their girlfriends, two best friends seek refuge in the local mall.
Director Kevin Smith made his previous mark on Generation X culture with the hilarious, inspired Clerks, which despite its black-and-white status and $27,000 price tag was one of the success stories of 1995. Mall Rats, a sequel of sorts complete with throwbacks to certain characters and situations (but in colour and with studio picture stamped all over it), proved the opposite, opening to comparative indifference in the US and bypassing UK screens completely. Which is a pity, for while the ensuing romp never quite achieves the majesty of its predecessor, it is far from disastrous.
Having been dumped by their respective girlfriends, slackers Brodie (Lee) and TS (London) seek sanctuary in the only place they see fit the local mall. Once inside, they undergo a series of encounters that would shame even the most seasoned of shoppers, ranging from meeting Marvel comics creator Stan Lee, through to thoroughly annoying the chainstore suit who has spirited away Brodies ex (Doherty), culminating in their attempts to regain their loved ones by vandalising a live gameshow broadcast.
This is more a film of individually inspired moments rather than a constant barrel of laughs. While brilliant moments of irreverence and filth one mans day-long struggle to make head or tail of a Magic Eye drawing; the return of Clerks dropouts Jay and Silent Bob (Smith); a cripplingly funny opening monologue prevail, more often than not Smith relies on dim humour and downright stupidity as the comic book-obsessed loser protagonists slide giddily about the mall from one mishap to the next. And it loses its way in the final reel, resulting in a horribly cheesy finalé.
Despite these shortcomings, though, proceedings benefit from a great deal of charm and appealing leads (Doherty, especially, displaying previously untapped talents) that carry it amiably to the finish line. Not a film for everybody, perhaps, but Clerks fans and those who prefer their dumb comedy infused with a little spice will not be disappointed.
Bawdy humour and a disjointed narrative make this an acquired taste.