You know how when you graduate high school and go to college and take that one psychology or philosophy class freshman year that opens your mind to all sorts of new theories and ideas, and you now think you’re the smartest you’ve ever been, and probably ever will be—you’ve reached your intellectual peak—but then you look back in ten years only to realize that you actually didn’t know anything back then and were actually still pretty dumb? That’s the dialogue in Kevin Smith’s earliest films, blending self-aggrandized sentiments with college humor and an obsession with fetishes. Compared to Smith’s debut Clerks, his 1995 follow-up, Mallrats, doesn’t quite inundate itself entirely with these long didactic chunks of dialogue—although there are still quite a few—but still gives us roughly the same amount of the college humor and an obsession with fetishes.
The story revolves around two best friends, T.S. (Jeremy London) and Brodie (Jason Lee), who have each just broken up with their girlfriends and go to the mall to decompress and think. Coincidentally, T.S.’s ex, Brandi (Claire Forlani), is going to be a contestant on a dating game show, which is being filmed live from the mall. Meanwhile, Brodie’s ex, Rene (Shannen Doherty), is also at the mall, getting hit on by Brodie’s arch nemesis, Shannon (Ben Affleck), a manager of a clothing store who hates him because he always goes to the mall to hang out instead of to shop.
And boy, does he. Brodie knows all the regulars and their stories. He goes to the mall like businessmen go to the bar. Except he only ever buys two things: food and comic books. Brodie is a comic book-obsessed slacker who still lives with his parents and plays video games all day. T.S., on the other hand, is a college student who had been preparing to propose to Brandi before she dumped him. He plans to get her back.