Anyone who knows me (and that should be everyone by now) knows that I am a huge Kevin Smith fan. I almost like him as much as Batman, but not quite. Smith has given the world a lot of entertainment (whether they like it or not), including movies, TV shows and podcasts. While I enjoy all of his stuff, his films are still my favourite. Maybe it’s his use of dialogue to drive a compelling narrative (or maybe it’s his use of poop and fart jokes), but for some reason I can’t get enough of his put-the-camera-down-and-walk-away approach to film making.
I have decided to rank Kevin Smith flicks (for no other reason than I want to) from my least favourite to my most favourite. I say “least favourite” because there is something in each of his movies that I enjoy, even if I don’t like everything. I also consider every one of his movies better than a lot of the crap out there (the Lake House anyone?).
For the purposes of this ranking, I’m going to include both the View Askew movies (the ones with Jay and Silent Bob) as well as the non-View Askew movies (the ones without Jay and Silent Bob). Since I really dig the inter-connectivity of the View Askew flicks (comic book fans really like it when different things reference each other and all tie-in together), I’m going to go ahead and say up front that the View Askewniverse ranks higher than the other ones (it also saves me the trouble of trying to figure out where to put a few of his flicks relative to others). Also, I am only going to consider movies that he both wrote and directed. In other words, I am not going to rank Cop Out (which he directed, but did not write). I thought Cop Out was fine, but I really think Kevin Smith’s brilliance is in his writing. Also, it’s my list, so I can do whatever I want.
One last thing before I start: I didn’t re-watch all these movies prior to putting this list together, so if I get my facts messed up feel free to leave a note with my administrative assistant (note: my administrative assistant is a garbage can).
And one more last thing in addition to the previous one last thing I discussed in the paragraph immediately preceding this one: SPOILER WARNING! I’m not very creative, so most of my “reviews” will just be me referencing plot points and saying “that was awesome” or “that was super awesome”. So don’t get mad when I ruin the ending to a movie you planned on maybe seeing at some point in your life if you ever get around to it.
So, without further ado (or any more sets of parentheses), here is my ranking of nine Kevin Smith flicks.
9. Red State
Synopsis: Three high school dudes head out to the sticks to have sex with a middle-aged woman that they find on the internet. Oh, and the plan is for them to all have sex with her at the same time. Then they end up getting kidnapped by some crazy religious fanatics who hate gay people as well as (apparently) high school kids who want to have sex with middle-aged women.
Things I dig: Michael Parks gives a fantastic performance. His gravelly voice makes him terrifying as the leader of the nuttier-than-a-nutbar cult. Overall, I’d say the rest of cast does a solid job as well. In addition, this movie is probably Kevin Smith’s best film in terms of visuals. There is a fair amount of action and it’s captured beautifully.
Things I dig less: Oy… there’s a lot. First off, the premise that three high school boys are going to go and have group sex with a random middle-aged woman is farfetched. I get that teenage boys want to have sex, but there is no way a high schooler is going to want to have sex with his buddy watching, let alone have his buddy join in.
I mentioned I liked the performances. There is one scene where Michael Parks’ character is leading a sermon with his family, and while he can carry an entire scene, it still feels waaaay too long. It would have helped if someone else cut in and said something.
Another great performance is given by Stephen Root. He plays a local sheriff (or some type of law enforcement) who gets caught in a really unfortunate circumstance (like really, really unfortunate). He has a really nice acting moment that leads you to believe that the focus of the story is going to be on him, but then suddenly everything shifts to John Goodman (who is an officer with the department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms). I love John Goodman, but his first few minutes are just him talking on a phone, and you don’t see who he’s talking to or hear what the person is saying. Watching someone talk on the phone can be trying at the best of times in a movie, but when you only get half the conversation (and it’s a loooong conversation), it can be downright infuriating.
Then there is the climax that makes me crazy. Again, John Goodman talks on the phone with someone (again, you don’t see or hear who’s on the other end) and Stephen Root (who’s character is now back in the picture after a notable absence) literally gets blown away while looking like a complete moron. And the kids (who are no longer important) get blown away too. Then there are… two or three more things in the ending that drive me nuts, but I’m not going to pile on any more then I already have.
I mean, I get it. Kevin Smith wanted to do something he hadn’t done before. The movie was meant to be somewhat of an art-school…indie-horror…something picture. So in that respect he succeeded. And I know that there are a lot of people who like this movie. But it didn’t work for me. At all.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: Chris you jerk, didn’t you say you love Kevin Smith? I did. And I do. So shut your face. Everything is more awesome from here.
8. Jersey Girl
Synopsis: A dude becomes a widower when his wife dies giving birth to their daughter. Being a single parent proves to be too much for him and it ends up ruining his promising career as a publicist. But don’t worry, Will Smith helps make everything better.
Things I dig: I really like the interactions between Ben Affleck’s character and Liv Tyler’s character. What’s better than a guy trying to rent a porno from a female cashier and then having a conversation with her about masturbation? There is also a scene from Sweeney Todd that is pretty spectacular. If only George Carlin didn’t get replaced by Affleck at the last minute.
Things I dig less: It’s kind of a chick flick and I’m not really into chick flicks. Also, the last scene where the dad and the daughter are dancing and the room goes dark except for the spotlight that shines on them is cheesy. Like, seriously cheesy.
7. Zack and Miri Make a Porno
Synopsis: In an effort to pay their overdue bills, two best friends decide to have sex on camera and sell it to their former high school classmates. What could possibly go wrong?
Things I dig: Elizabeth Banks. She has a great moment where she gets this almost giddy look on her face that makes you believe that her 3 minutes under the sex-god that is Seth Rogen is the greatest thing that has ever happened to her. I also enjoy any movie that involves a porn parody of a successful science fiction film franchise. Then there is Justin Long, who steals a couple scenes as a gay porn actor. I really believed that he wanted Brandon Routh’s Mini-Man of Steel inside him. I really wish there was more of Justin Long in the movie (if you know what I mean ;)).
Things I dig less: I find it hard to believe that two people who know each other their whole lives think of each other as just friends, but then once they have sex they are suddenly, stupidly in love with each other. I have got to believe that some feelings would have bubbled up at some point prior to having awkward looking sex on camera.
That’s it for the non-View Askew flicks. I’m going to call a time out for now. You’ll have to wait until next time to see how I rank the rest of Kevin Smith’s movies. So come back next week (or maybe earlier.. I don’t know yet). Same blog time! Same blog channel!