Comic books! Comic book cultism. Ben Affleck as comic book artist… What do all of these things have in common? If you’re in the know – and, apparently I wasn’t – they’re part of the back story in the way back from 1997 movie Chasing Amy, starring Affleck in said role as Holden, a comic book artist with a huge cult following and Joey Lauren Adams as fellow comic book artist, Alyssa whom Holden falls in love with.
There is, of course, a wrench in the whole plot. Alyssa is a lesbian. Still, she finds herself in a relationship with Holden. She struggles to understand how she can have the feelings that she’s having for a man. Meanwhile, Holden is definitely struggling with her past love life and his own security in their relationship. It certainly doesn’t help him that his best bud and comic book co-creator “Banky” (Jason Lee in an award winning performance), strives hard to keep them apart to protect his buddy from heartbreak and, really, to preserve the status quo in their own best friend/working relationship. Some great comedy comes out of the scenes that involve Lee.
Holden and Alyssa are actually introduced by another graphic artist, “Hooper X” who is a gay black man, a role played to the “street” hilt by Dwight Ewell. Hooper has his own insecurities about being black and about being gay but he puts on a public front of bluster and bravado and schools both Holden and Banky.
This is a romantic comedy made for a mass audience. Other reviewers have said that being gay or lesbian is secondary to the overall comedy element of the story. It can’t be. The initial sexual persuasion of Alyssa is the crux of what makes this a unique story. If she were straight, this would be similar to any other romantic comedy. Lesbian since birth viewers may have a hard time believing the story (that a lesbian can fall in love with a man). To enjoy the movie, they’ll have to take on the mantle of suspended disbelief. Our bi sisters and our late bloomer lesbians will totally get it.