Kevin Smith is one of my favorite directors. I first knew him as Silent Bob, and it blew my mind when someone told me that Silent Bob directed all these movies. My very first time I saw a Kevin Smith movie was when I was a kid watching Comedy Central, and Dogma came on. I could totally tell this movie was going to be up my alley when the screen called out God's sense of humor when he created the platypus then immediately apologized to all Platypus enthusiasts.
So I wanted to do something to show my appreciation to Mr. Smith's filmography. Instead of reviewing each movie individually, I've decided to create a new segment called "From Cream of the Crop to Pile of Slop." I will go through a director's filmography and rank them from best to worst adding my two-cents onto why I've ranked them as such. *Spoiler Alert*
Clerks 2 is one of the best sequels I've ever watched. It takes all of the pop-culture references, the characters, and the shenanigans up to 11. It's also got some good heart under the massive pile of profanities. When Silent Bob doesn't have the answer for once when cued by his hetero life-mate, Randal and Dante finally take charge of their lives in a montage that is nostalgic and cathartic for both the characters and the audience.
I remember the first time I watched this movie. I was house sitting for a friend. He'd recommended Chasing Amy to me after I told him how much I liked Dogma. He was the one who told me that Silent Bob wasn't just a dealer but a director too. So I sat down and watched it at his place all alone. Talk about a dude's chick flick. Towards the climax, under my breath, I was telling Holden, hoping that Holden wouldn't go mess it all up. It's got perfect blend of comedy and drama, and a great "black rage" scene about Star Wars.
Dogma was the first Kevin Smith movie I saw. It was really hard to pick my number 2 between this and Chasing Amy. Ask me next week, and it will probably change. If I could put the two movies side by side on this page, I would! Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are so good as Loki and Bartleby, respectively. The split between the two towards the end really works. I felt bad for Loki, and on some level for Bartleby too. Chris Rock and Alan Rickman were great as the black apostle and the voice of God. When Professor Snape pulls down his pants to reveal himself as "anatomically impaired as a Ken doll," he had to ask himself how he had gotten there. It's also got a light message about organized religion. It was subtle and somewhat effective.
Remember when I mentioned pop-culture references? Mallrats has some of the best of them in any Kevin Smith film. The Empire Strikes Back, Jaws and Batman (1989) were paid homage in fitting fashion. This is also were we first meet Jason Lee and the "stinkpalm." Oh, and. . . Stan Lee's cameo actually served a purpose for the story (unlike any Marvel movie ever)
Clerks started it all. There will always be a special place in people's hearts for Clerks. Except mine. It wasn't the first movie of Smith's that I saw. It wasn't even the second or the third movie of his that I watched. Please don't stone me, I just wasn't exposed to them in chronological order. I do love some scenes in Clerks like the Star Wars dialogue and the conversation about title dictating behavior (I used to be in customer service). I appreciate the indie-film shot with such a low budget it couldn't afford color film. It's just not the one I invested in emotionally with Dante and Randal. Except for the fact that we wouldn't have Clerks 2 if he kept it, I like the idea of Dante becoming a tragic hero in Smith's original ending of a thief shooting Dante after Randal leaves. It's very fitting to the character of Dante to have learned so much and have that clarity at the end thanks Silent Bob's wise words, but then die and be robbed from a chance to finally benefit himself. He wasn't even supposed to be there.
This was by far the hardest film to place on this list. I literally just watched it the night that I'm writing this. Between this, and the next two movies, I really had to think about how I view themes vs. re-watchability. The themes in Tusk were really smart and applicable to content-makers. That being said, I don't think I'd pop this in just any old time. It's definitely the horror movie that I wanted Red State to be: a good one. If I had to recommend only one of the movies between this one and the next two, it would be this one. That's why it beats the rest on this list. Oh by the way, Justin Long is a freakin' walrus! Oh the hu-manatee.
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back
This is Smith's road trip movie. It's got this self-referential humor throughout which is really fun and cheeky, especially if you are familiar with the rest of the View Askewniverse. By the time this movie came out, it was no surprise to anyone who watched Smith's films that he liked Star Wars. The cameo's of Fischer and Hamill in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back were beyond epic and a pure joy to see on screen again. Even the title of the movie is a nod to Star Wars. I'm sold. (Can you tell I like Star Wars?)
Zack and Miri
I thought the mix of Seth Rogen and Kevin Smith would be pretty epic. Two comedy geniuses working on comedy about making a porno. What could go wrong? Not a whole heck of a lot in my opinion. Adding Jeff Anderson and Jason Mewes was a good move. I thought Justin Long stole the show with his scenes as Brandon St. Randy. Finally,I didn't think Smith could go much further than a donkey show, but apparently the man has his "shit covered."
Following Chasing Amy, I guess Smith decided he wanted to make a more by-the-numbers chick flick. I wonder if the film would have been better received if it hadn't been for the disaster that is known as Gigli. Either way, it's not a bad film. It's just a film.
Earlier, we had the Rogen/Smith team-up movie. Now it's the Willis/Smith team-up. Ever since Smith's cameo in Live Free or Die Hard, it was a goal of theirs to make a movie together. Cop Out was that movie. Another by-the-numbers film, this time it's a buddy-cop movie. The parts I enjoyed most were actually with the supporting cast like Sean Williams Scott, Jason Lee, and Kevin Pollack. I'd catch it on cable, but I wouldn't go fishing for it.
I've only seen Red State once. Maybe I should give it another try. Maybe someone would need to bait and hook me, so they can later force me to watch Red State again. This really bums me out. When I heard Smith was going to jump to the horror genre, I was hoping he'd push the limits of the horror movie like the way he does the comedy. I really liked Dogma and the commentary he had on organized religion, but ironically Smith's preachy Red State was a bore.
So that's my ranking of Kevin Smith's Filmography thus far. Hopefully we can continue to contemplate where to stick his new films when they come out, and they aren't immediately dropped into the slop.
Let me know what you thought of my list. Did you agree? What are you favorite, or not so favorite, Kevin Smith movies? What director should I tackle next time? Thanks for reading!