Time Out NY - April 2nd, 1997

Chasing Amy, Kevin Smith's third feature, does to romantic comedies what Stan Lee and Steve Ditko's Spider-Man did to superhero comics in the '60s. It makes a tired genre newly relevant by giving its characters motivations and problems that seem real. Turning date-movie conventions inside out, Smith's new film makes even the insightful Jerry Maguire look as shallow as pre-Spidey comics in comparision.

Lifelong pals Holden (Affleck) and Banky (Lee) have found success as comic-book creators, but Holden doesn't realize how empty his life has been until he meets Alyssa (Adams), a fellow cartoonist, at a Manhattan comcis convention. He's instantly smitten, even though she happens to be a lesbian. They develop a close friendship that, to his amazement, turns into something more. But it's when Holden's dreams come true that his problems begin.

Amy is evey bit as bawdy and irreverent as Clerks, but here those qualities are means to an end-Holden's road, though paved with dirty jokes, leads to emotional maturity. Alyssa is a far more complex character than she first appears to be, and Adams's tough charm makes her vividly real, while Lee's short-fused Banky is the comic engine that drives the film. As their straight man (in more ways than one) Affleck complements the two of them perfectly. Smith returns as Silent Bob, who lived up to his name in Clerks and Mallrats but here delivers a poignant ancedote that gives the film its title. And Ewell, as a gay cartoonist who sells himself as an Afrocentric militant in order to gain street cred, is hilarious in his too-few scenes.

Chasing Amy is obviously a personal film for Smith, a chance to work through his masculinity issues on-screen. But it's the best kind of personal movie, one that makes its concerns universal and ends with a message that, while obvious, is one we'd all be better off for learning.

Pg 68 (so close to 69) of Time Out New York.
Reviewed by Andrew Johnson
Typed and typos by Steve Cohn