I found it odd that Kevin Smith himself has denounced this film as a failure. I think he saw his project as a failed teen comedy homage to John Hughes, whereas I didn't see it that way. I saw something original here.
I wrote this review a few years ago and it was my first or 2nd Kevin Smith (possibly behind Chasing Amy)
With the valuable lesson that the little nuances found by hanging out at a shopping mall are the best parts of life, Mallrats is a piece of entertainment that's humor is crude yet insightful.
Jeremy London and Jason Lee as two guys who have just ended relationships, but have markedly different attitudes about it and they have a really great odd couple chemistry as a result. London plays T.S. Quint, the hopeless romantic type, not over the loss of a girl and determined to get her back that we see often in movies and in ourselves in real life sometimes. Lee's character, Brodie, is more what the movie is about. He cheers himself and his friend up by taking a trip to the mall, and indulging in the cookie stand, the comic book shop, and conspiring with two shady characters (Jay and Silent Bob) to screw over his unpleasant neighbor, who also happens to be a major reason that his friend got dumped.
Whether the film portrays Brodie's lifestyle is healthy or not is debatable, he lives with his mother and lacks ambition. However, I think Lee's character is the one we admire more of the two, because he is much happier and less worrisome over the course of the film as his counterpart T.S. and still gets the girl at the end.
The movie takes place over a short period of real time, pretty much, a single afternoon at the mall. Along with the two protagonists, a series of pleasantly quirky recurring characters are all found hanging out, including Joey Lauren Adams (as T.S.'s promiscuous ex-girlfriend) and Ben Affleck (as a perverted department store owner) in different roles than they'll have in Smith's future project Chasing Amy.
With great dialogue as a tool, these mundane interactions between these seemingly ordinary people come to life and as a result, it becomes so engaging to watch their paths intertwine all the way to the climactic live dating show scene at the film's finale.