Mallrats 4K UHD Review
Blu-ray Release: June 27, 2023
Video: 1.85:1/2160p (HDR10/Dolby Vision)/Color
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and 2.0 (both versions)
Subtitles: English SDH
Run Time: 94:45 (Theatrical Cut)/121:50 (Extended Cut)
Director: Kevin Smith
Simultaneously dumped by their girlfriends, comic book obsessive Brodie (Jason Lee) and best friend TS (Jeremy London) plan to ease the pain of their losses by taking a take trip to the local mall, which they discover is being used as the venue for a dating show and that TS’ girlfriend, Brandi (Claire Forlani), is the star. Hatching a plan to win back their significant others, Brodie and TS enlist the help of professional delinquents Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith) to hijack the game show in a bid to win back Brandi. Meanwhile, Brodie carries out his own mission to make good his relationship with Rene (Shannen Doherty), who has attracted the attention of his nemesis, Shannon (Ben Affleck). (From Arrow’s official synopsis)
In 1994, an ultra low-budget, independently-produced black & white comedy called Clerks, from unknown filmmaker named Kevin Smith, became a surprise favorite at the Sundance Film Festival, after which it was bought by Miramax Films and released to even more surprising box office profit. The film’s success turned Smith into an unlikely celebrity and accidental Gen X spokesperson practically overnight and, soon, his name was being dropped alongside other generational talents, like Quentin Tarantino and Steven Soderbergh. Smith’s second film, Mallrats (1995), was made under the banner of a major studio, Universal, who didn’t really understand Clerks’ indie spirit, nor the authenticity and relatability of its comedy. They knew it had dirty jokes and that young people enjoyed it, so they essentially asked Smith to make them the ‘90s version of Bob Clark’s Porky’s (1981). The resulting film, Mallrats, was a financial disappointment (it made back less than half of its budget) and garnered disgruntled critical reactions, as the R-rating aged-out much of the intended audience (theaters were generally stricter about ratings in the mid ’90s) and the juvenile humor annoyed the Sundance and Independent Spirit crowds that helped make Clerks a breakthrough in the first place.
But then Mallrats hit home video and cable television, where it fostered a cult following from the teenagers it was really made for. It is full of that bawdy, Porky’s-esque humor that Universal wanted, but very little nudity and even less physical sexuality makes it on-screen, meaning that it was ultimately pretty safe for that audience, too. Smith’s dialogue remained every bit as filthy as it was for Clerks and as it would be for basically his entire career. In fact, the few bits of nudity we do get have always felt kind of out of place, like studio mandates, instead of creative choices. In the end, Mallrats ended up aging better than its follow-up, Chasing Amy (1997), which was designed as a step back into Clerks’ indie territory and was ultimately well-received at the time, but which grows less and less relevant with each passing year. In fact, given Gen Z’s renewed interest in ‘90s culture, Mallrats, via its fashion, music, tone, and bygone setting, has the potential to become the classic Kevin Smith movie, despite not being his best or most personable work. At the very least, it introduced wider audiences to The Rock (1996) and Meet Joe Black (1998) star Claire Forlani and skateboarder-turned-actor Jason Lee.
As stated, Mallrats found its audience on home video, including its initial VHS release and its DVD debut, which was one of Universal’s early collector’s edition releases. This was followed by a 2005 10th Anniversary edition, also from Universal, that included additional extras and a much longer extended cut. The film then made its HD DVD debut in 2007 and, when that format flopped, its Blu-ray debut in 2012. Arrow got their hands on the rights for a 2020 Limited Edition Blu-ray that featured a brand new restoration approved by Smith and cinematographer David Klein. Now, that restoration is available on 4K UHD, which includes the original theatrical cut and the extended cut, both in 1.85:1, 2160p and both HDR10/Dolby Vision-enhanced.
I do not have access to the Arrow Blu-ray and cannot take caps from the 4K disc, so be aware that the images on this page are purely illustrative and not representative of either Arrow release’s image quality. These are actually taken from the original BD and you can tell, because they’re slathered in edge haloes and are kind of muted. Arrow’s remaster is significantly brighter – even more so with the HDR enhancement – which really helps boost the candy colors of the mall environment, while also presenting more accurate skin tones and other neutral hues. Grain and other textures look natural in 2160p and details, though cranked, aren’t oversharpened, ensuring the 35mm look is maintained. For more evidence, check out this comparison between the Universal and Arrow Blu-rays at caps-a-holic.com.
Both cuts are presented with 5.1 and 2.0 stereo options in uncompressed DTS-HD Master Audio. I suppose Mallrats was made in the middle of the industry’s changeover from analog to digital, so the film was presented in one or the other, depending on a given theater’s capabilities. I think it’s safe enough to opt for the 5.1 track, since the film had a verified DTS mix during initial release. Either way, it isn’t a particularly aggressive mix, so there isn’t a big difference between the tracks. Most of the sound design focuses on dialogue and music, particularly the pop-punk needle drops with basic mall ambience and occasional directional effects, usually during Jay and Silent Bob’s mock-action film antics.
Disc 1 (theatrical version)
Commentary with director Kevin Smith, producer Scott Mosier, archivist Vincent Pereira, and actors Jason Lee, Ben Affleck, and Jason Mewes – This is the original 2004 DVD commentary and is a typical hang-out track from the View Askew crew. The all-star is Affleck, who acts as both a moderator, forcing Smith on task, while also ruthlessly making fun of him and inviting others to do the same.
2020 introduction by director Kevin Smith (12:31, HD)
My Mallrat Memories (29:58, HD) – A high-energy retrospective interview with Smith on the inception and making of Mallrats, his various inspirations, shooting in Minnesota for a huge discount ($10k to rent an entire mall?!), casting, basing characters on his friends, and the film’s legacy.
Mr. Mallrat: A Tribute to Jim Jacks (12:57, HD) – Smith discusses the life and career of his late friend and Mallrats producer Jim Jacks, who also helped discover the Coen Brothers and produced Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused.
Blunt Talk (9:59, HD) – In this 2020 Arrow-exclusive interview, actor and View Askew personality Jason Mewes recalls befriending Smith at a young age, the success of Clerks and the surprise acting career it spawned, missing out on rehearsal and per diem while shooting Mallrats, studio heads wanting to recast his part, shooting in an active mall, and not being able to dub himself for the censored TV edit.
Hollywood of the North (10:13, HD) – As I said, Mallrats was shot here in Minnesota at Eden Prairie Center, not the Mall of America, where D2: The Mighty Ducks was filmed. In this cute little animated featurette, Minnesota-based crew members/extras Mark Har, Gordon Smuder, Jessica Sibinski, and Bob Medcraft chat about their work on the film and the film-based tax rebate that made the state a popular filming location during the ‘90s.
When We Were Punks (6:08, HD) – Cinematographer David Klein wraps up the 2020 interviews with a short look back at his career.
Archival extras (HD mastered SD footage):
Deleted scenes with 1999 introductions from Smith and Pereira (62:48)
Outtakes and behind-the-scenes footage (8:12)
Cast Interviews from set (8:3)
The Erection of an Epic: The Making of Mallrats (22:09) – The original 2005 behind-the-scenes featurette
A Brief Q&A with Kevin Smith 2005 interview (9:01)
The Goops’ "Build Me Up Buttercup" music video (3:38)
Disc 2 (extended version)
2005 introduction to the Extended Version by director Kevin Smith and producer Scott Mosier (11:00, SD)
1995 soundtrack EPK (4:02, SD)
Dailies (119:35, HD mastered analog VHS material)
Stills galleries – Behind the scenes stills and in-film comics
The images on this page are NOT representative of Arrow's 4K OR Blu-ray remaster.