As in the other View Askewniverse films, the characters Jay and Silent Bob feature prominently, and characters and events from other films are discussed. Several cast members, including Jason Lee, Ben Affleck, and Joey Lauren Adams, have gone on to work in several other Smith films. Comic book icon Stan Lee appeared, as did Brian O'Halloran, the star of Smith's breakout feature Clerks.
College student T.S. Quint (Jeremy London) is preparing for a trip to Universal Studios in Florida with Brandi Svenning (Claire Forlani), during which he plans to propose to her; however, Brandi tells him she cannot go because she has volunteered to fill in as a contestant on Truth or Date, her father's dating game show. They argue over this and eventually break up. T.S. turns to his best friend Brodie Bruce (Jason Lee), who has also broken up with his girlfriend, Rene Mosier (Shannen Doherty), after having an argument, and Brodie suggests the two might find comfort at the local mall.
Brodie and T.S. discover Truth or Date is being filmed at the same mall, through their friend Willam (Ethan Suplee, who throughout the movie tries to see a sailboat in a Magic Eye poster), and ask local slackers Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith, respectively) to destroy the show's stage, a task for which they devise elaborate but ultimately unsuccessful plans. These actions result in the two being pursued by mall security guard LaFours (Sven-Ole Thorsen), but they are able to escape him. Brodie finds out Rene began a relationship with his enemy Shannon Hamilton (Ben Affleck), a clothing store manager who hates Brodie because of his "lack of a shopping agenda." Brodie confronts Rene to find out more about her relationship with Shannon, and the two have sex in an elevator. Brodie is later abducted and attacked by Shannon, who intends to have sex with Rene in a "very uncomfortable place", a reference to anal sex. As a result of this incident, Jay and Silent Bob assault the mall's Easter Bunny, under the incorrect assumption that he attacked Brodie.
Brandi's father, Jared (Michael Rooker), who is aware of Brodie and T.S's presence at the mall, has the two arrested on false charges of drug possession. Jay and Silent Bob are able to rescue Brodie and T.S. and are once again able to evade LaFours. Meanwhile, Brodie and T.S. hide out at a local flea market, where they meet fortune teller Ivannah (Priscilla Barnes). T.S. decides to win Brandi back and the two return to the mall.
Before the show begins, Brodie receives advice on romance from Stan Lee, who was visiting the mall. After this, Brodie requests that his friend Tricia Jones retrieve footage of her having sex with Shannon. Meanwhile, T.S. also persuades Jay to get two of the game show contestants stoned, which allow him and Brodie to replace them on Truth or Date, joining Gil Hicks, the third contestant.
During the show, Brandi recognizes the voices of Brodie and T.S., and an on-air argument between the three ensues. Brodie tells Brandi that T.S. had spent all day trying to win her back. T.S. then proposes to Brandi, which she accepts. As the police arrive to arrest T.S. and Brodie after the show is over, Silent Bob plays a sex tape of Shannon and Tricia, resulting in his arrest for statutory rape. Brodie and Rene renew their relationship as a result.
The conclusion reveals that T.S. marries Brandi, Tricia's book is a bestseller, Shannon is imprisoned (and subsequently anally raped), Willam eventually does see the sailboat, and Brodie becomes the host of The Tonight Show (with Rene as his bandleader) after impressing the show's producers with his stage banter. Jay and Silent Bob are also shown with a monkey named Suzanne, which promises to be "another story" (told in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back).
After the success of the independent hit Clerks, writer/director Kevin Smith and his best friend/producer Scott Mosier began to make their second film. After a screening of Clerks, producer James Jacks approached them to do another film for Universal Studios. Smith soon finished the script for this new film, and casting began.
Jeremy London, an actor with a TV series and a few films to his credit, was cast as T.S. Shannen Doherty was the most famous cast member after her appearances in many films and the hit TV shows Little House on the Prairie and Beverly Hills, 90210 (there is a reference to the latter when Willam mistakenly calls Rene Brenda). Jason Lee was cast with no prior acting experience; before the film he was a professional skateboarder. Lee has since appeared in most of Smith's films, and is the godfather of Smith's child, Harley Quinn Smith. Affleck, who was a relative unknown at the time, was cast as Shannon Hamilton. Affleck has also appeared in several of Smith's films since Mallrats. Joey Lauren Adams was cast as Gwen Turner. She would later date Smith, and during that time he wrote the main character in Chasing Amy for her. Ethan Suplee was cast as Willam Black. Mosier was supposed to reprise the role, but Smith and the film's producers were so impressed with Suplee that they cast him instead. The most troublesome role to cast was Jay, as the studio did not want Jason Mewes to have the role, despite the fact that he played it in Clerks and the character of Jay is based on him. Mewes had to audition for the part against actors such as Seth Green and Breckin Meyer.Rahway State Prison is mentioned at the end of the film
Brodie wears a Henry Hudson Regional High School shirt at the beginning of the film. Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes attended that school in Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey.
Smith wanted to shoot the film in Seaview Square Mall in Ocean Township, New Jersey, but filmed it at Eden Prairie Center mall in Eden Prairie, Minnesota instead due to lower production costs.
The exterior shot showing T.S. and Brodie's arrival at the flea market was of the now-demolished Route 1 Flea Market in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
The Menlo Park Mall, located in Edison, New Jersey, is mentioned in the Easter Bunny beating scene. Brodie tells Jay and Silent Bob that the Easter Bunny assaulted him because "all I said was the Easter Bunny in the Menlo Park Mall was more convincing."
The film grossed $2,122,561 at the box office.
Mallrats was the subject of much critical derision when it was released, with many critics comparing it unfavorably to Smith's first film, Clerks. In his negative review of the film, critic Roger Ebert said "Before Mallrats was released, I chaired a panel that Smith participated in and Kevin Smith cheerfully said he'd be happy to do whatever the studios wanted, if they'd pay for his films. At the time, I thought he was joking." Kevin Smith responded by apologizing for Mallrats at the 1996 Independent Spirit Awards, though he later stated that the apology was made in jest. Despite all that, the film developed a cult following after it was released on video.
The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes lists a 55% positive rating for Mallrats based on 42 reviews.
In 1996 MCA/Universal Home Video released the movie on VHS and Laserdisc (the latter in widescreen format). A DVD was released in 1999 including 1.85:1 Anamorphic widescreen picture & 5.1 Dolby surround sound (both of which the movie was in for the Laserdisc release). Bonus features include:Audio commentary with director Kevin Smith, cast members Ben Affleck, Jason Lee, and Jason Mewes, and producers Scott Mosier & Vincent Pereira
Featurette-View Askew's Look Back At Mallrats
Music Video-Build Me Up Buttercup by The Goops (Directed by Kevin Smith)
In 2005, a 10th anniversary DVD was released, containing the original version of the film, features from the previous DVD release, and an all new director's cut of the movie with over 30 minutes of additional footage and subplots.An alternate opening scene, in which Mr. Svenning hosts a Ball for the Governor of New Jersey (played by Elizabeth Ashley). In this scene, T.S. (dressed as a colonial musketman), accidentally gets his musket tangled up in Brandi's hair, then accidentally shoots at the Governor on the roof of a school, which ends up costing Mr. Svenning his reputation as well as a big pay raise. This explains the reason why Svenning shows an intense dislike for T.S. and why Brandi is so intent on breaking up with him. This scene also makes no mention of Julie Dwyer's death, as the theatrical cut did. (That cut subplot was referenced in the final cut of the movie, where the TV execs mention to Svenning that they don't want a repeat of the Governor's Ball.)
An extended sequence at Brodie's house, where T.S. is hounded by the media as a result of his actions at the Governor's Ball, including several TV movie offers.
Included scenes where T.S. also makes it known to Brandi that he proposed to marry her.
A scene in which Brodie and T.S. arrive outside of Mr. Svenning's home, so T.S. can try and reconcile, and during the confusion, thanks to a news crew chasing T.S., then interviewing Brodie (who then implies that Mr. Svenning and Brandi take part in Satanic rituals), the news crew records footage of Svenning doing martial arts in a bath-towel. (Some of the footage of Mr. Svenning was re-edited in the theatrical release into the new intro.)
A shot that shows the Quick Stop from Clerks.
A new subplot of Brodie showing intentions of wanting to be on television, which explains his surprised look during his appearance on Truth or Date.
An extended arrest scene in which LaFours wants to put Brodie and T.S. into jail for an extended period of time, rather than "overnight" when the pair were initially arrested.
An extended fight scene between Brodie and Shannon Hamilton, in which Hamilton tells Brodie to forget Rene.
An extended rant from Mr. Svenning, a result of T.S. letting it slip that he intended to propose to Brandi.
A scene after Truth or Date in which the Mr. Svenning demands to have T.S. and Brodie arrested, but instead he is the one who is arrested. It turns out that since Svenning was the producer of the show, he faces multiple FCC fines for Brodie's antics.
An extended "Where are they now?" ending sequence, in which Mr. Svenning is shown at his job at the network as a janitor, and Shannon Hamilton is shown screaming after his rape in prison.
A scene that showed Tricia flirting and having sex with LaFours in order to distract him from catching Jay and Silent Bob. This explains the final segment in the 'where are they now' ending sequence, showing LaFours kissing Tricia during the book signing.
As explained by Kevin Smith in the introduction, some of the dialogue had been re-dubbed in the theatrical release, but is restored in this version. (For example, the man who runs up to and is subsequently punched by T.S. outside the mall near the end originally asked if he had seen T.S. on CNN, whereas in the theatrical cut, he asks T.S. if he was the one who broke up with Brandi Svenning.) Other extended scenes have notable jump cuts.
The original DVD's deleted scenes reel also featured the first draft opening sequence (in script form); here, T.S. is competing on a collegiate game show produced by Mr. Svenning; he accidentally mispronounces an answer ("Bay of Bisquake" instead of Bay of Biscay); his team loses, and in the confusion, T.S. accidentally damages a camera, and he must now pay Mr. Svenning for the damages. Brandi then breaks up with him, and a guy on a bus mistakenly thinks that T.S. will kill him after seeing him in a news report. Several alternate openings, with different voiceover spiels from Brodie (including one which has him recounting the events up to him nearly getting assaulted by Hamilton on the Truth or Date stage) were also seen in that reel.
The film was released on Blu-ray in 2014 and it used digital noise reduction and edge enhancement (as part of Universal's 1990's Best of the Decade collection); the menus were replaced with Universal-mandated menus, the Focus Features logo replaced the Universal logo at the start of the film, and some copies also included a code for a digital streaming version to be redeemed at Universal's online UltraViolet service, and iTunes.
On March 13, 2015, Kevin Smith confirmed that Mallrats 2 was being written and was slated to begin shooting in summer 2016. Also in March, Smith confirmed the return of Jason Mewes and himself as Jay and Silent Bob respectively, Michael Rooker as Jared Svenning, Stan Lee as himself, Shannen Doherty as Rene Mosier, Jason Lee as Brodie, Ethan Suplee as Willam, Jeremy London as T.S. Quint, Renee Humphrey as Tricia Jones, and Joey Lauren Adams as Gwen Turner. In April 2015, Smith confirmed the return of Sven-Ole Thorsen as Lafours, Scott Mosier as Roddy, Bryan Johnson and Walt Flanagan as Steve-Dave Pulasti and Walt "Fanboy" Grover, Brian O'Halloran as Gil Hicks, and Claire Forlani as Brandi Svenning. Also in April, Smith announced that Mallrats 2 would be his next film, instead of Clerks III as originally intended, and would begin filming in 2015.
From April 2015 to July 2016, Smith made a series of announcements regarding the sequel, some regarding casting and some announcing delays in production. During this time, the planned film became a planned 10 episode TV series.
In February 2017, Smith announced that pitches to six different networks resulted in no one willing to produce the TV series, and the project was effectively dead.