Mallrats [1995]

Sophomore jinx hit hard in this second film by Kevin Smith, whose debut Clerks transcended the limits of its setting and budget to become something memorably funny. (Smith followed Mallrats with the wonderful Chasing Amy, so Mallrats definitely had the old curse.) A ramshackle comedy set in a mall, the film follows several story lines involving lovers, enemies, friends, goofballs, and Smith's own "silent" character, who also appeared in Clerks and Chasing Amy. A heavy self-consciousness weighs on everything, as if Smith forgot how to make obscenity funny instead of tedious. Still, it's nice to see some of the director's film family on screen, among them Jason Lee and Joey Lauren Adams. --Tom Keogh

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