Chasing Amy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Chasing Amy
Theatrical release poster
Directed byKevin Smith
Written byKevin Smith
Produced byScott Mosier
CinematographyDavid Klein
Edited byScott Mosier
Kevin Smith
Music byDavid Pirner
Distributed byMiramax Films
Release dates
  • January 24, 1997 (1997-01-24) (Sundance)
  • April 4, 1997 (1997-04-04)
Running time
113 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$12 million[2]

Chasing Amy is a 1997 American romantic comedy-drama film written and directed by Kevin Smith and starring Ben Affleck, Joey Lauren Adams, and Jason Lee. The third film in Smith's View Askewniverse series, the film is about a male comic artist (Affleck) who falls in love with a lesbian (Adams), to the displeasure of his best friend (Lee).

The film was originally inspired by a brief scene from an early film by a friend of Smith's. In Guinevere Turner's Go Fish, one of the lesbian characters imagines her friends passing judgment on her for "selling out" by sleeping with a man. Smith was dating Adams at the time he was writing the script, which was also partly inspired by her.[3]

The film received mostly positive reviews, praising the humor, performances and Kevin Smith's direction. The film won two awards at the 1998 Independent Spirit Awards (Best Screenplay for Smith and Best Supporting Actor for Lee). Characters from the film would go on to appear in later Askewniverse films Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001) and Jay and Silent Bob Reboot (2019), direct spin-offs of Chasing Amy, with Affleck, Lee, Adams and Ewell reprising their roles in cameo appearances; Smith described the characters' roles in Jay and Silent Bob Reboot as being an "eight-page sequel" to Chasing Amy.


While promoting their comic Bluntman and Chronic at a comic book convention, comic book artists and lifelong best friends Holden McNeil and Banky Edwards meet Alyssa Jones. A struggling writer, Alyssa is friends with Hooper, an African-American writer and activist who masks his flamboyantly gay personality with a militant image to promote his comic White-Hating Coon. Immediately attracted to her, Holden soon learns she is a lesbian.

Holden and Alyssa begin spending time with each other, and a deep friendship soon develops. This upsets the homophobic Banky, who resents Alyssa for intervening in their affairs. The duo's business partnership also suffers, as they had been close to signing a lucrative deal to adapt Bluntman and Chronic into an animated TV series, and Banky feels that Holden no longer cares about their project.

Unable to contain his feelings, Holden confesses his love to Alyssa. She is initially angry with him, but they later reconcile, sleep together, and begin a romantic relationship, which worsens things with Banky. An old friend of Banky's, who grew up with Alyssa, tells Holden she participated in a threesome with two boys back in high school. Holden is deeply disturbed by the revelation, having believed that he is the first man Alyssa had ever slept with.

Hooper advises Holden to be honest and truthful and ask Alyssa about her past. Hooper also thinks that Banky is jealous and in love with Holden, disguising his true feelings with macho sexual banter. The following night, Holden clumsily attempts to bait Alyssa into confessing, which she eventually does, and storms out of the arena. In the parking lot, Alyssa angrily admits to the threesome but refuses to apologize for her past sexual experiences, wanting to continue their relationship. Holden leaves feeling unsure.

Later, Holden meets Jay and Silent Bob, inspirations for Bluntman and Chronic, at a local diner. He hands them their residual pay for book sales and discusses his troubles. Bob reveals that a couple of years earlier, he had a girlfriend named Amy. Although he loved her, his insecurities about her past promiscuity caused him to break up with her. He regretted it and has spent a long time "chasing Amy."

Holden devises a plan to fix both his relationship with Alyssa and his fractured friendship with Banky. He invites them over and tells Alyssa that he would like to get over her past and remain her boyfriend while telling Banky that he realizes that he is in love with Holden. He proposes a threesome, which he believes will both end his envy towards Alyssa's broader experiences and resolve Banky's issues with them being a couple. The initially shocked Banky agrees to participate, but is relieved when an appalled Alyssa declines. She reasons that the proposal is offensive and will not save their relationship. Alyssa and Banky both leave.

One year later, Banky and Alyssa are busy promoting their own respective comics, Baby Dave and Idiosyncratic Routine, at a convention. It is revealed that Holden and Banky dissolved their partnership, with Banky now owning the publishing and creative rights to Bluntman and Chronic. Banky smiles sadly at Holden, who silently congratulates him for his comic being successful, and gestures over to a booth hosted by Alyssa, encouraging him to speak to her. During their brief emotional conversation, Holden gives her a copy of Chasing Amy, his new comic based on their failed relationship. After he departs, Alyssa's girlfriend arrives and asks about him. Smiling and teary-eyed, Alyssa feigns indifference, moves his comic aside, and dismisses him as some guy she knew.



Kevin Smith has said over the years that Chasing Amy was inspired by his brother being gay, his relationship with Joey Lauren Adams, whom he was dating during the making of the film, and a crush his producing partner Scott Mosier had on lesbian filmmaker Guinevere Turner.[4][5] Turner met Mosier and Smith at the 1994 Sundance Film Festival where their respective films, Go Fish and Clerks, had premiered. After the festival, Mosier and Turner kept in touch, with Mosier developing unrequited feelings for Turner. Smith told Mosier to channel his heartbreak into a movie about a guy who falls in love with a lesbian, but the filmmakers felt it was too lean of a story, so Smith added his own experiences into the character of Holden.[4] Smith wrote, "The character of Holden is the closest to me I've ever written (casting Ben was aesthetically wishful thinking perhaps)."[3] Smith, who said he "didn't really know that much about gay culture, and specifically lesbian culture", had Turner look at drafts of the script for her input.[4] Turner helped find the location for the bar scenes, which were shot at the since-closed Meow Mix in downtown Manhattan.[4]

Miramax initially offered Smith a $2 million budget on the condition that he cast David Schwimmer, Drew Barrymore, and Jon Stewart as the leads. Smith rejected this offer in favor of a $250,000 budget with a cast of his choosing.[6]


The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 24, 1997.[7]

Box office[edit]

On a budget of $250,000, the film grossed a total of $12,021,272 in theaters.[1][2][8] Chasing Amy played at three locations and earned $52,446 upon its opening weekend in the United States.[9] The following week, the film was expanded to a further twenty-two theaters where it grossed $302,406.[10] During the 18–20 April 1997 weekend, Chasing Amy was screened at a further 494 locations, where it earned $1,642,402 and moved into the Top 10.[11]

Critical reception[edit]

Chasing Amy received positive reviews from critics. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes reports an approval rating of 87% based on reviews from 87 critics, with a rating average of 7.30/10. According to the site's summary of the critical consensus, “Although Chasing Amy's depiction of queer sexuality is frustratingly clumsy, it handles an array of thorny themes with a mixture of sensitivity, raw honesty, and writer-director Kevin Smith's signature raunchy humor."[12] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 71 out of 100 based on 28 reviews.[13] Audiences polled by Cinemascore gave the film a grade of "A−".[14]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three-and-a-half out of four stars, saying; "While the surface of his film sparkles with sharp, ironic dialogue, deeper issues are forming, and Chasing Amy develops into a film of touching insights. Most romantic comedies place phony obstacles in the way of true love, but Smith knows that at some level there's nothing funny about being in love: It's a dead serious business, in which your entire being is at risk." Ebert believed the film was an improvement over Smith's previous effort Mallrats and he added that Adams was a discovery.[15]

Charles Taylor, writing for Salon, quipped "Chasing Amy isn't going to single-handedly save romantic comedy, but Smith (Clerks) has made the only romantic comedy in quite a while that acknowledges, even celebrates, the fact that love and sex are emotional anarchy."[16] Writing in Time Out New York, Andrew Johnston observed: "Chasing Amy, Kevin Smith's third feature, does to romantic comedy 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."[17]

Quentin Tarantino considered Chasing Amy his favorite movie of 1997.[18]


In the book Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women's Love and Desire, Lisa M. Diamond cites the film as a notable example of female sexual fluidity in popular culture, writing that Chasing Amy "depicts a lesbian becoming involved with a man, contrary to the more widespread depictions of heterosexual women becoming involved in same-sex relationships."[19]

Though the film has been praised as ahead of its time by some critics in its representation of sexual fluidity and the concept of the bromance, it also received criticism, particularly for its implication that a lesbian can go straight, even if just temporarily, as soon as she meets the right guy.[20][21][4] The film was criticized by Judith Kegan Gardiner in the book Masculinity Studies and Feminist Theory, describing Chasing Amy as representative of a "fairly repulsive genre of films" that feature a "heterosexual conversion narrative" that is "set in motion by the desire of a heterosexual person for a seemingly unattainable gay person."[22] The scene where Alyssa is shamed by her gay friends when they discover she is dating a man also received criticism from the lesbian community.[23]

Smith later said, "For anyone who watches the movie now and goes, like, 'Ew, these sexual politics are ... not very subtle', you’ve gotta remember: It was made by a 26-year-old, 27-year-old guy, who really didn’t know anything and was learning in that moment. As much as it’s a movie that’s closely identified with the gay community, by virtue of the fact that the main character was gay, I really never think about it as such ... To me, it was about a boy who grows up to become a man but loses everything in the process — very bittersweet."[4]

In 2023, queer filmmaker Sav Rodgers released the documentary Chasing Chasing Amy, which discusses the impact the film had on his life.[24][25]


Award Date of ceremony Category Recipients Result
British Independent Film Awards[26] October 29, 1998 Best Foreign Independent Film Chasing Amy Nominated
Chicago Film Critics Association[27] March 1, 1998 Most Promising Actress Joey Lauren Adams Won
Golden Globe Award[28] January 18, 1998 Best Actress in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy Joey Lauren Adams Nominated
Independent Spirit Awards[29] March 21, 1998 Best Film Chasing Amy Nominated
Best Screenplay Kevin Smith Won
Best Supporting Actor Jason Lee Won
Las Vegas Film Critics Society[30] January 1998 Most Promising Actress Joey Lauren Adams Won
Los Angeles Film Critics Association[31] January 15, 1996 Best Screenplay Kevin Smith Nominated
MTV Movie Awards[32] May 30, 1998 Best Breakthrough Performance Joey Lauren Adams Nominated
Best Kiss Joey Lauren Adams and Carmen Llywelyn Nominated
National Board of Review of Motion Pictures[33] December 8, 1998 Special Recognition for Excellence in Filmmaking Chasing Amy Won

Home media[edit]

Chasing Amy was released by the Criterion Collection, first on Laserdisc in 1997, then on DVD in 2000. It includes audio commentary from cast and crew, deleted scenes, outtakes, and a theatrical trailer.[34] The DVD adds an introduction from Kevin Smith, apologizing for saying "fuck DVD" in the commentary. Later reissues by Lionsgate and Paramount are repressings of the Criterion edition.

Chasing Amy was released on Blu-Ray on November 17, 2009.[35] This release includes a new commentary track, a Q&A with the cast recorded at Vulgarthon 2005, a conversation between Kevin Smith and Joey Lauren Adams, and a feature-length documentary titled "Tracing Amy" that details the making of the film and its aftermath.[36]


In Japan, the screenplay of Chasing Amy was adapted into a novel by Kenichi Eguchi and published by Aoyama Publishing. The unique concept of the book is that it is roughly half-novel, half-manga, with Moyoko Anno providing the art for the comic book pages.[37] In an episode of SModcast, Smith revealed that while he was thrilled to have a manga based on his film, he was shocked when he read the novelization, as the characters' sexual histories, which are just mentioned in conversation in the film, are depicted in the novel's manga illustrations as sexually graphic flashbacks.[5]

Smith had the original screenplay published along with his Clerks script from Miramax Books.[38]


The film had no soundtrack album released; however, many songs appear in the movie, including a cover of The Cars' "Let's Go" performed by Ernie Isley, "The Impression That I Get" by The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, "Run's House" by Run-DMC and other songs by artists such as Public Enemy, The Hang Ups, Gwen Guthrie and Liz Phair.[39]

Two songs by the band Soul Asylum are featured in the film: "Lucky One" and "We 3". The band had previously contributed the song Can't Even Tell to the soundtrack of Smith's 1994 debut film Clerks. Frontman Dave Pirner composed the incidental music for the film along with the film's theme song, "Tube of Wonderful", which plays over the opening credits.[40] The song reappears in Smith's 2001 film Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, as well as its 2019 reboot Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, both times introducing the character Holden McNeil.

The music video for the song "Have You Seen Mary", performed by the band Sponge, features several scenes of the film. In Chasing Amy, the song is played in the scene while Holden and Hooper are at Jack's Music Shoppe.

Cultural references[edit]

In a scene originally written for Mallrats, several principal characters share memories of sexual escapades gone awry. This scene reveals the character's own emotional "sex scars" and was purposefully created—down to the style of dialogue and set dressing—to mirror a scene from Steven Spielberg's Jaws in which Quint and Hooper share the physical scars they've both earned from encounters with sharks. However, in this film it's used with Alyssa and Banky.[3]


  1. ^ a b "Chasing Amy: Synopsis". View Askew Productions. Retrieved January 18, 2009.
  2. ^ a b "Chasing Amy (1997)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 18, 2009.
  3. ^ a b c Smith, Kevin (June 26, 2000). "The Hows and Whys of Chasing Amy". The Criterion Collection. Archived from the original on December 9, 2008.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Keating, Shannon (April 18, 2017). "Looking Back at the Sexual Politics of Chasing Amy 20 Years Later". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved October 25, 2023.
  5. ^ a b #97 Glazing Amy. SModcast. October 30, 2009.
  6. ^ Callahan, Maureen (April 1998). "Indie Movies-Now More Than Ever!". Spin. p. 106. Retrieved February 14, 2024.
  7. ^ "Sundance Festival Schedule for Thursday and Friday". Deseret News. January 22, 1997. Retrieved February 14, 2024.
  8. ^ Sciretta, Peter (January 16, 2018). "The Best Movies Of Sundance Film Festival History 1985-1999". /Film.
  9. ^ "April 4-6, 1997 Weekend". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved March 29, 2012.
  10. ^ "April 11-13, 1997 Weekend". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved March 29, 2012.
  11. ^ "April 18-20, 1997 Weekend". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved March 29, 2012.
  12. ^ "Chasing Amy (1997)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. April 4, 1997. Retrieved May 24, 2022.
  13. ^ "Chasing Amy". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved March 29, 2012.
  14. ^ "Critical Mass". April 11, 1997. Archived from the original on December 2, 2013. Retrieved December 4, 2013.
  15. ^ Ebert, Roger (April 18, 1997). "Chasing Amy". Retrieved July 3, 2022.
  16. ^ Taylor, Charles (May 11, 1997). "Chasing Amy". Salon. Retrieved March 29, 2012.
  17. ^ Johnston, Andrew (April 2–9, 1997). "Chasing Amy". Time Out New York. p. 68.
  18. ^ "Quentin Tarantino talks about Chasing Amy". YouTube. July 27, 2013. Retrieved October 25, 2023.
  19. ^ Diamond, Lisa M (2008). Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women's Love and Desire. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. p. 2. ISBN 9780674032262.
  20. ^ Darren, Alison (2000). "Chasing Amy". Lesbian Film Guide. Bloomsbury Publishing. pp. 42–44. ISBN 9781441183644.
  21. ^ Kaiser, Vrai (August 2, 2015). "Bisexual Hangups: How Chasing Amy Is Still Ahead of Its Time". The Mary Sue. Retrieved October 25, 2023.
  22. ^ Gardiner, Judith Kegan (2002). Masculinity Studies and Feminist Theory. New York: Columbia University Press. p. 346. ISBN 9780231122795.
  23. ^ Walters, Suzanna Danuta (2003). All the Rage: The Story of Gay Visibility in America. University of Chicago Press. p. 164. ISBN 9780226872322.
  24. ^ Collis, Clark (June 7, 2023). "How Kevin Smith's 'Chasing Amy' saved a queer filmmaker's life". Retrieved October 25, 2023.
  25. ^ "Chasing Chasing Amy | 2023 Tribeca Festival". Tribeca. Retrieved October 25, 2023.
  26. ^ "1998 British Independent Film Awards". British Independent Film Awards. Archived from the original on July 1, 2012. Retrieved March 29, 2012.
  27. ^ "Chicago Film Critics Awards - 1988-97". Chicago Film Critics Association. Archived from the original on August 22, 2015. Retrieved March 29, 2012.
  28. ^ "Nominees for Golden Globe Awards". CNN. Turner Broadcasting System. December 18, 1997. Retrieved March 29, 2012.
  29. ^ "The Independent Spirit Awards: 1998". Film Threat. March 23, 1998. Archived from the original on January 20, 2019. Retrieved March 29, 2012.
  30. ^ "1997 Sierra Award winners". Las Vegas Film Critics Society. Archived from the original on March 31, 2012. Retrieved March 29, 2012.
  31. ^ Kronke, David (December 14, 1997). "'L.A. Confidential' Gets L.A. Critics' Top Award". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 29, 2012.
  32. ^ "1998 MTV Movie Awards". MTV. Viacom International. Archived from the original on April 23, 2008. Retrieved March 29, 2012.
  33. ^ "Awards for 1997". National Board of Review of Motion Pictures. Archived from the original on March 30, 2012. Retrieved March 29, 2012.
  34. ^ "Chasing Amy: Criterion Collection". DVD Talk. June 21, 2000. Retrieved October 25, 2023.
  35. ^ "Chasing Amy DVD Release Date". DVDs Release Dates. Retrieved April 30, 2021.
  36. ^ Brown, Kenneth (November 13, 2009). "Chasing Amy Blu-ray Review". Retrieved February 14, 2024.
  37. ^ "Flowers & Bees". Archived from the original on September 4, 2009.
  38. ^ Smith, Kevin (1997). Clerks and Chasing Amy: Two Screenplays. Miramax. ISBN 978-0786882632.
  39. ^ "Chasing Amy soundtrack and songs list". InSoundtrack. January 26, 2018. Retrieved October 25, 2023.
  40. ^ "Chasing Amy - Build Your Own Soundtrack". May 21, 1997. Retrieved October 25, 2023.

External links[edit]