Director: Kevin Smith

CHASING AMY (1997)Most romantic comedies seem to follow the same formula. Someone with a secret falls for somebody else and they have a relationship, but when the secret is revealed, the fit hits the shan and the couple has a falling out before making up by the end of the movie. But when Kevin Smith made his third movie, he took that formula and turned its on his ear, resulting in Chasing Amy.

Holden McNeil (Ben Affleck) and Banky Edwards (Jason Lee) are two comic book artists slowly gaining fame from their Jay and Silent Bob-inspired comic "Bluntman And Chronic." When the two attend a comic book convention in New York, their friend Hooper (Dwight Ewell) introduces them to his friend Alyssa Jones (Joey Lauren Adams). Holden is immediately smitten, and he and Alyssa soon form a close friendship. After a while, Holden develops a crush on his new friend, but he soon finds out Alyssa's secret. It turns out that he's fallen in love with a lesbian with a salacious sexual history. Go figure. Confronted by his feelings for Alyssa and the confusion caused by them, Banky's jealousy and homophobia (which may or may not be a cover for his own closeted sexuality), and his own self-doubts, Holden's life has just got turned upside down and he doesn't know how to fix it.

Chasing Amy is arguably the best movie Kevin Smith's ever made, and it's definitely my favorite. It has more real emotion than most comedies I've seen, probably due to both the extremely talented cast (as with Mallrats, many scenes here are stolen by Jason Lee) and Smith's semi-autobiographical script. The main cast have a great chemistry together, and they all try their best to make the movie seem real. Each of them can be easily identified with, and they're all likeable as well. Affleck is believable as the lovelorn cartoonist, while Lee and Adams are absolutely perfect as Holden's loud-mouth sidekick and love interest, respectively. Dwight Ewell is great as Hooper, the militant black man by day/gay bartender by night, and the brief one-scene appearance of Jay and Silent Bob (played for the third time by Jason Mewes and Smith himself) is excellent, making Jay and Bob more than just a brash drug dealer and his silent comrade. They're helped by Smith's brilliant screenplay, which works in racism, the Star Wars movies, and the differences between "inking" and "tracing" in the comic book industry, but still speaks with a lot of heart and feeling while managing to be hilarious at the same time. His characters are complicated, and each of them has their own thing going on.

Overall, there's nothing else I can say about Chasing Amy, except that it should be seen by everyone that thinks they have love figured out. With a great script, great acting, and jokes abounding, I'll give Chasing Amy five stars. It doesn't deserve any lower than that.

Final Rating: *****