As much as I love Star Wars (and I love Star Wars a whole fucking lot), nobody has influenced my affection for all things film more than Kevin Smith. I have seen all his movies numerous times, read his books, watched every interview I can get my hands on and in many ways I consider him my hero. Here are all 11 of Kevin Smith’s films from worst to best:
11. Cop Out (2010)
‘Let’s go be great!’
As Kevin Smith is not known for being the most sophisticated director out there it was always a risk for him to take on a project he hadn’t written himself. Now Cop Out is better than most people give it credit for but well reported tensions between Bruce Willis and Kevin Smith took it’s toll on the end product. Smith commented that working with Willis was ‘soul crushing’ leading to a messy but still quite funny flick.
Ever the sentimentalist Smith said he wanted to make a film that his late father would have enjoyed and obviously nobody would ever begrudge him that.
10. Tusk (2014)
‘I don’t wanna die in Canada!’
Kevin Smith’s most recent film originated as a joke from his podcast but ended up being realized fairly successfully. The first half is right up there with Red State in terms of shocking imagery and horror and Michael Parks is as mesmerising as ever. A celebrity cameo in the third act causes the film to derail slightly however, although the use of Fleetwood Mac’s brilliant track Tusk almost saves it.
Whilst making Mallrats a studio executive told Kevin Smith that film making was ‘not about making movies with your friends’. Smith has cultivated a celebrated career proving that exec wrong and Tusk shows that not only is Smith happy making films starring his friends and family but also making films FOR his friends and family. There is little mass appeal to be found in Tusk but it was well received amongst his cult following.
9. Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008)
‘EVERYBODY wants to see ANYBODY fuck.’
Zack and Miri was the film that was supposed to be Kevin Smith’s first $100 million movie but alas it wasn’t to be. Whilst some put it down to problems with marketing the film, or just plain bad luck, I think it was something else.
Legendary hockey player Wayne Gretzky’s Dad told him at a young age ‘don’t go to the puck, go where the puck is going to be’. Smith himself has said that with Zack and Miri he followed the puck, not where the puck was going to be.
Basically he went from being influential and almost a trendsetter to stealing envious glances across at Judd Apatow and his massive critical and commercial success and tried to replicate it for himself.
It’s a shame because Zack and Miri has all the hall marks for a classic Smith movie. Funny and warm with a likeable cast but somehow it doesn’t quite have that Kevin Smith magic.
8. 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.’
If Smith took a bit of a kicking critically after Mallrats, that was nothing compared to the universally negative press that Cop Out received. With the View Askewniverse on hiatus it was always going to be interesting to see Smith’s next move. Nobody could have foreseen Red State however…
Undoubtedly Smith’s most underrated film, Red State is one of the best horror films of the last ten years and this from a director who has made his name in dick and fart jokes (to use Smith’s own parlance).
7. Jersey Girl (2004)
‘Sun even shines on a dog’s ass some days…’
With Smith temporarily moving away from the safety net of Jay & Silent Bob, the knives were being sharpened by Smith’s detractors. With then couple Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez due to star, the release of massive flop Gigli the year before, was an absolute disaster for Smith and Jersey Girl that it would fail to recover from.
That is all bullshit movie politics though and a lot of people who hated this movie had made up their minds to hate it before the film was ever released. Jersey Girl is vintage Kevin Smith being at once hilarious, touching and a love letter to his daughter.
Smith himself seems a bit dismissive of Jersey Girl now which is a shame because it is one of my favourite Affleck movies.
6. Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back (2001)
‘I don’t like the sound of those apples Will!’
If Cop Out was for his father and Jersey Girl for his daughter than Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back was surely for his fans. Jay & Bob is an hour and forty minutes of pure wish fulfilment as Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill share the screen with Jason Lee’s Brodie Bruce amidst various call backs to every film in the Kevin Smith back catalogue.
Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back is kind of like the Avengers for dick and fart jokes and Smith handles many different characters through increasingly bizarre scenarios whilst never straying from what made people fall in love with his work in the first place.
5. Clerks II. (2006)
‘One semester we took Criminology, for God’s sake! Criminology! Who the fuck were we studying to be? Batman?’
Clerks II marked the first time that I felt worried rather than excited for a Kevin Smith film. After constantly stating his desire to move away from View Askewniverse, was Clerks II only happening because of the under performance of Zack and Miri?
I needn’t have worried because as it turns out it was so fucking joyous to catch up with Dante and Randall again and while it still contains plenty of winks and nods for fans, Clerks II is much more plot centered and serious then say Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back.
Not only did Clerks II not tarnish a wonderful legacy, it added to it and is also a great film in it’s own right. A resounding success. Here’s hoping Clerks III is just as good.
4. Dogma (1999)
‘Here’s what I don’t get about you. You know for a fact that there’s a God. You’ve been in His presence, He’s spoken to you personally. And yet I just heard you claim to be an atheist.’
Kevin Smith addressed his relationship with his Catholic upbringing to devastating effect with Dogma – far and away his smartest and best written piece of work.
An all star cast of Chris Rock, Salma Hayek and Alan Rickman as well as Smith regulars Ben Affleck and Matt Damon hold together a novel take on faith and religion whilst also finding time to battle a rubber poop monster.
3. Chasing Amy (1997)
‘I finally had something personal to say’
Anyone thinking of making a romantic comedy should be made to watch Chasing Amy first and act accordingly. To paraphrase Jarvis Cocker ‘love isn’t chocolate boxes and roses’ and Chasing Amy is a grown up, and incredibly on the money account, of how fucking complicated and hard love can become.
The chemistry and tension between Joey Lauren Adams, Ben Affleck and Jason Lee is palpable and Chasing Amy also features Silent Bob’s finest hour with his ‘dumb Amy story’.
2. Clerks. (1994)
‘This job would be great if it wasn’t for the fucking customers’
Clerks perfectly encapsulates what it is to be stuck in some dead end job whilst simultaneously combining an air of romance to having no prospects.
Having worked in equivalent jobs to the Quick Stop most of my life it was inspirational for me to see a movie that said you don’t have to have a high paid job to be happy as long as you do something you love.
The story behind Clerks is much more inspirational then the movie itself even with Smith gambling everything he had to make the movie a success against huge odds.
1. Mallrats (1995)
‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned for Sega.’
I have spent so many hours of my life watching, writing and talking about movies, so to give you some idea of it’s significance to me I can comfortably say I have seen Mallrats more than any other film.
In Brodie Bruce I saw myself represented on screen for the first time and this gave me the confidence to feel much more comfortable in my own fat, disgusting skin. For the first time I felt like it was ok to be obsessed with geek culture and also that there were others out there who felt the same.
For the uninitiated it is impossible to convey how important Mallrats is to scores of confused boys who need a hero who looks and talks like them. A Han Solo for the Sega generation. Brodie Bruce is that hero…
I still try and catch Mallrats at least once a year and when I do I am always grateful to Kevin Smith for leading me down the path I am on now.
Anyone fancy a chocolate covered pretzel?