I'm not even supposed to be here today!
Writer and director Kevin Smith has made a name for himself both on the big screen and the small screen. Appearing in film and television, the New Jersey native burst onto the scene with the low-budget, independent film Clerks in 1994 and never really looked back. Since that original black and white film gem, we have seen about as many dick jokes as humanly possible as well as drama, horror, and religion. He also has a rather popular comic book store in his hometown of Red Bank, NJ. This versatility is what makes Smith so special to his fanbase because let's face it, the guy can really do it all.
With this list we will focus on the films brought to us by Kevin Smith and to narrow down the playing field, we will stick to the films he has directed. Granted the films he has directed were also written by him, but let's keep our focus. Unlike other lists I have done, this list is in order from worst to best and will only include movies I have seen. If you don't see something or think I got the order wrong, don't be shy to leave it in the comments and let me know!
10. Tusk (2014)
"I don't wanna die in Canada!"
Chalk it up to being flat out disgusting or just plain weird, Tusk is one of those movies that just has no happiness. The story of a man who is kidnapped and turned into a walrus is as weird as it sounds. I don't really know what Kevin Smith is turning his filmography into, but if Tusk is an indicator of what's still coming I am a bit nervous. Definitely not a movie I will ever watch again, at least not on purpose.
9. Red State (2011)
"People just do the strangest things when they believe they're entitled. But they do even stranger things when they just plain believe."
Red State is by no means bad. It just doesn't really hold up to Smith's filmography as a whole. Marking his debut in the horror genre, this story about a God fearing cult at war with the federal government was suspenseful and humorous at the same time. Yet another film with zero happiness, but you do have to admit that the way the Feds saw any kind of victory was hilarious in a way only Kevin Smith can deliver.
8. Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008)
"Han Solo ain't never had no sex with Princess Leia in the Star War?"
Yet another Smith offering I have never had the desire to watch more than once, Zack and Miri Make a Porno is one that is funny when you're watching but you don't really want to experience it again. With the exception of the annoyingly stereotypical, late-2000s casting of Seth Rogen, the cast as a whole isn't bad and it features Smith regulars, Jason Mewes and Jeff Anderson. And yes, if you haven't guessed, it's about making a porno film so remember that going in.
7. Jersey Girl (2004)
"Forget about what you thought you were and just accept who you are."
I was never a big fan of Jersey Girl, but given the choices I didn't feel like I could rank it below the previous three. Even though it's one of Smith's weaker releases to me, it was sweet enough and it wasn't overly gross in comparison to other offerings. This is also the last we see of Ben Affleck as a leading man in the Smith universe.
6. Clerks II (2006)
"I left the coffee pot on again, didn't I?"
A sequel that was highly anticipated and talked about, Clerks II didn't quite live up to the expectation but it's not a bad sequel. Fast-forwarding 12 years from the events of Clerks, Dante and Randall find themselves slinging fast-food after the Quick-Stop burns down. Even with the nostalgia factor and returning cast, it wasn't enough to make a smooth transition. For me personally, Smith was trying too hard to recreate the magic from the first movie and it just didn't work. Still funny, but it's not the same. Dante and Randall's cameo in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back was better.
5. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001)
"What the fuck is the internet?"
If you look at it from a certain perspective, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back is basically Smith parodying his own filmography up to that point. Bringing back characters from just about every pre-2000s film, it was like a satire skit that happened to run for 104 minutes. For me, the first half is better than the second half but the film effectively put Jay and Silent Bob on the map as individual characters and not just those two random guys who show up in every movie for a little while.
4. Mallrats (1995)
"What? Like the back of a Volkswagen?"
This is where the list gets difficult because these final four films are all so great. Smith's sophomore film had a much higher budget and obviously had a wider range of area and characters to work with, but it really is a special movie. Mallrats follows two friends who resort to a meaningless day at the mall after they are both dumped by their girlfriends. It serves as the first major introduction of Jay and Silent Bob and has a deeper plot involving relationships and friendship. That's not to mention what happens when you offer Michael Rooker a chocolate covered pretzel.
3. Dogma (1999)
"He said that faith is like a glass of water. When you're young, the glass is small, and it's easy to fill up. But the older you get, the bigger the glass gets, and the same amount of liquid doesn't fill it anymore. Periodically, the glass has to be refilled."
Aside from the #1 choice on the list, this is one of the deepest plots you'll find in a comedy. Centered around two fallen angels who decide to defy God once more upon the reveal of the last descendant of Jesus Christ, Dogma brings a rather satirical view of religion mixed with a lot of factual aspects; After all, Kevin Smith was raised Catholic. The plot and the events make you really reflect on what happens and whether you're religious or not, you can relate to the sympathy played off the human characters by the angels and demons.
2. Clerks (1994)
"There's a million fine looking women in the world, but they don't all bring you lasagna at work. Most of them just cheat on you."
The movie that started it all was filmed overnight in the convenience store that Kevin Smith worked at. Yes, that's why the shutters were technically closed (not because someone jammed gum in the locks). It's also why a lot of the extras were Smith's friends and family.
Fun movie facts aside, Clerks is one of the most popular independent films for a reason. The story of two convenience store clerks resonated with audiences because they basically said what we were all thinking while on the job. The difference was they had the guts to say it out loud. Between showing up on your day off, showing up late, closing the store to play hockey on the roof or selling cigarettes to 4-year olds, it seems that Dante and Randall have a life more eventful than any of us; A life that perhaps can only exist in the Quick-Stop and RST Video, respectively.
1. Chasing Amy (1997)
"If this is a crush, I don't think I could take it if the real thing ever happened."
Most people say without a doubt that Clerks is Kevin Smith's best film. I beg to differ because Chasing Amy is a gem that people often forget exists. Either that or they don't appreciate it for what it is. The story of a young comic book artist who hopelessly falls in love with a lesbian is sad, humorous, and just plain hurts you as you watch. The struggles between the entire cast, not just the main characters of Holden and Alyssa, is reflective on what can really happen between you and your friends if you pursue someone you have no chance with.
Chasing Amy also proves that Kevin Smith isn't just dick and fart jokes. There are plenty of those here but the mixture of truly heartfelt situations and dialogue shows his versatility and the way it affects us as viewers is proof. We want these characters to succeed whether they are together or not. And that, my friends, is a shared moment.