Kevin Smith, regardless of what you might think of his films, his worldview, or anything else, remains a genuine pioneer in the entertainment business. His first film, Clerks, was made for $27,000 with local actors in and around the south New Jersey environs of his youth, which influenced the film. It helped pave the way for more DIY filmmakers to emerge outside the confines of the studio systems, with its improvised, lo-fi feel today in films filmed on iPhones.
Smith has continued to direct and write his own works until the release of Clerks, occasionally serving as a director-for-hire on larger studio projects. The View Askewniverse, which includes Jason Mewes and Smith himself as anchor characters Jay and Silent Bob, predated the Marvel Cinematic Universe by more than a decade.
Smith has maintained the style, if you can call it that, that characterized Clerks and most of his films since: an emphasis on dialogue (and lots of it), raunchy or crude humor, and an almost vain attempt to make his films any less than satisfactory.
Whatever your preference for the man's movies is (and there are a slew of opinions here), there is a beating heart at the core of them, just as there is a distinct sense of the world, humanity, and love that is both cynical and compassionate. Below are the main results of polling our own staff and you, dear readers.
Killroy Was Here isn't included on this list due to no one on the staff who bought one of the 5,555 NFTs it was released as.
15.Yoga Hosers (2016)
This is the second film in Smiths True North trilogy (after Tusk), inspired by someone saying something about Smiths Smodcast (no longer worth the words in this article, than it was an entire feature film).
Yoga Hosers is set at the height of the Smith echo chamber where the director appears to think that having a good time with his mates is enough to produce a great film. It isnt. Anyway, this film stars his daughter Harley Quinn Smith and Johnny Depps daughter Lily-Rose Depp (who frankly both deserve better) as a couple of store clerks who have to confront one-foot high bratwurst-made Nazis. Surely the epitome of sounded
14.Cop Out (2010)
Smith decided to try his hand at something different by producing a film that he didnt already write. A Couple of Dicks, directed by the Cullen Brothers, was a good fit for Smith. As a result of his friendship with actor Bruce Willis, Smith was able to make his mark on the 2007 film Live Free or Die Hard.
The studio eventually dropped the title, changing the project's name several times before settling on Cop Out, becoming one of the films' smaller conflicts; apparently, Smith had a difficult time working with Willis, going on to say that if it weren't for co-star Tracy Morgan, I would have killed either myself or someone else in the process of making Cop Out.
It's only natural that the film is so mediocre. Willis and Morgan are equally apprehensive at attempting to make jokes. Smith however, is completely out of his depth, staging inconsistent chase sequences and employing slow-motion like a film student who just saw his first Michael Bay film. It's a limp, lifeless film that would be Smith's last studio attempt before returning to his independent roots.
Tusk began as a joke that extended into a story on one of Kevin Smith's podcasts. There are many of us who wish it would have stayed there. Wallace (Justin Long) is an arrogant and mean-spirited podcaster who foolishly travels to Canada in search of a fringe personality he can interview and demean on his program. He should have stayed in the States.
Howard Howe (Michael Parks) is a retired seaman with an odd charm who promises to tell Wallace a story. He saves him from a shipwreck many years ago by mutilating Mr. Tusk's body until he is a Walrus.
Its an unfunny, lowbrow gag that lasted 100 minutes of gross-out body horror. At the time, Smith anticipated it would be the beginning of a True North Trilogy of horror films. However, along with the subsequent Yoga Hosers, these projects represented the last point in his career.
12.Jay and Silent Bobs Super Groovy Cartoon Movie! (2013)
The animated Jay and Silent Bob story, which sees the pair finally get a chance to live out their lives as superheroes Bluntman and Chronic, is for the diehards only. However, the joke just feels stale at a mere 64 minutes, especially given the growth of geek culture in recent years.
11.Jay and Silent Bob Reboot (2019)
Kevin Smith's films have increasingly served as excuses to get the band back together for one (or five) more adventures. Yet never have these reunions felt so brazen in their intentions as the Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, Smith's first View Askewverse film 13 years earlier, and to be sure, there is an ungainly, saggy quality to a film that shamelessly repeats the general plot line of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back to diminishing results only now Jays a father
The sense of belonging is palpable if underserved in a mediocre film, and Smith would certainly utilize that trick later on, but it's nice to see everybody have a good time. This includes having Ben Affleck and Joey Lauren Adams close the loop on their recurring Chasing Amy characters with a little more grace than Jay and Silent Bob can manage.
10.Red State (2011)
At first glance, 2011's Red State appears to be a more direct followup to Dogma, Kevin Smith's original attempt at tackling religion. While Dogma emphasizes the celestial aspects of the faith, Red State also focuses on the earthbound individuals who misinterpret all that dogma to destructive and destructive ends. In reality, however, religion is only a background for what Smith is aiming for: pure grindhouse violence.
Red State, which is still directed by Smith and his long-time cinematographer Dave Klein, is almost nothing like a Kevin Smith film. The cameras actually *gasp* move as they zoom around to capture the harrowing scenes that ensue when three unassuming kids are led into the den of horrors by charismatic preacher Abin Cooper. There is some political and social commentary to be found in this film.
Red State is a quick and dirty action game with a handful of compelling scenes, although they do not end up being a compelling film. Alec Bojalad
9.Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2007)
Zack (Seth Rogen) and Miri (Elizabeth Banks) have lived in a Pittsburgh suburb until a video of Miri undressing goes viral, giving Zack the brilliant idea that they should make a porn film to make money. But as Zack and Miris' onscreen connection reveals their true feelings for each other, both the film and their friendship are at jeopardy.
Zack and Miri, which is only the second non-Askewniverse film in Smiths' filmography to date, are still brimming with all the usual Smith-isms, and their relationship is genuine (their performances in the porn shoot scene, with each of them realizing that they are not just having perfunctory sex, are incredible in such an awkward situation).
8.Jersey Girl (2004)
Jersey Girl was my choice. There are those of us out there that don't believe that certain sections of the film are worthwhile. (Gasp!) This is unpopular to state online since the film has long been the punching bag of Smith's most loyal fans, and sometimes Smith himself. Yet there's something bittersweet about Smiths first appearance outside of the View Askewaverse: It shows the road not taken.
There's a forlorn melancholy to what was intended to be Smith's serious attempt to make a film for grown-ups. In this case, imagining what it would be like if he had lost his wife at the beginning of the family.
The film can be saccharine and sabotaging, but these elements are counteracted by Smiths big-hearted sentimentality, which would serve to anchor most of Smith's better films. Plus, the relationship between Affleck and his onscreen daughter, played by Raquel Castro, sparkles when the couple performs a number from Stephen Sondheims Sweeney Todd, cannibalism and all, before Castros elementary school.
7.Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001)
Kevin Smith's View Askewniverse, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back was the culmination of all of Smiths' first four films, which were filtered through a cartoonish lens and focused on the fan-favorite, dopey Rosencrantz and Guildenstern analogs Jay and Silent Bob. This felt like a love letter to his fans while mirroring the broad, male-centered road trips that were popular during the time.
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back follows Jerseys favorite stoners as they journey to Hollywood to stop a Bluntman and Chronic film from being made. However, don't get me wrong, this is still a Kevin Smith film about his most ludicrous individuals.
This film was created for 13-year-old boys, and it does a good job of matching it. Smiths pals like Ben Affleck and Jason Lee, as well as newcomers like Will Ferrell and Chris Rock, make the most of their screen time, and most of the cameos, from Mark Hamill to Wes Craven, are great (subsequent attempts to recreate the scene serve as a template).
6.Clerks III (2022)
Kevin Smith used the long, long, long-awaited Clerks III to reflect on his career, if not his existence. It makes a lot of sense. Dante Hicks was, after all, intended to be the fate Smith escapedthe Jersey misery of working behind a Quick Stop counter for the rest of his life.
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Clerks III revisits old stomping grounds with a storyline literally about remaking Clerks, but in this case it is to say goodbye to favorite memories, past glories, and even youth itself, whether spent or not.
As ridiculous as it may sound, it also makes us realize we might be missing these garden state nitwits who never let the 1990s go.
5.Clerks II (2006)
Kevin Smith chose to do something extremely late to fulfill your first film, a beloved indie classic, on his list of Things You're Not Supposed to Do. The results are astonishing! There are those who believe that the original Clerks is an unbreakable cultural document that no sequel can match. And then there are others on the right side of history who believe that Clerks II is even better.
After the Quick Stop is burned down (in a colorful bit of visual creativity that reveals Smith learned a thing or two as a director in the decade between the two films), Clerks heroes Dante (Brian OHalloran) and Randal (Jeff Anderson) find themselves in another familiar rhythm of filming the shit, hating their customers, and interacting with new and old friends in Jay and Silent Bob.
Clerks II is in many ways the same film as Clerks, but with a more polished, more professional cast. It also has an extremely satisfying, moving conclusion that makes the argument for the film's mere existence stronger than anybody else.
Mallrats, like many of Smithsearliest films, hasnt aged particularly well, but it gained a cult following at the time thanks to its youthful energy and charismatic cast. Its an ensemble comedy based around two best buddies T.S. (Jeremy London) and Brodie (Jason Lee) who both get dumped by their girlfriends (Shannon Dougherty and Claire Forlani) who then go to the mall to relax.
Despite the weak critical reaction, they no longer make them like this. This is undoubtedly a good thing. RF's quick dialogue, stoner gags, enhanced involvement of (then) fan favorites Jay and Silent Bob, and bonkers plot were enough to draw a following.
The place where one first saw Dogma, exactly, is influenced by where one first saw it. If youre like me and first saw Kevin Smith's simultaneous ode to and condemnation of his native Catholicism as a midday TV film on Comedy Central in the early aughts, then Dogma is certainly one of filmmakers best creations. The TV edit of Dogma is a quick, breezy, and hugely enjoyable exploration of the complex mysteries of faith.
The unfathomable conclusion of the Golgothan, a shit demon, marries Dogma's penultimate act. It's a shame, because the more mature elements of the film work. Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Salma Hayek, Alan Rickman, Chris Rock, Linda Fiorentino, Jason Lee, and others lead the audience through a fascinating parable about how two angels who simply want to leave could accidentally unravel the fabric of reality.
It also reveals that God is a woman and that she looks like Alanis Morissette. That's peak 90s wisdom.
2.Chasing Amy (1997)
Kevin Smith's third feature film is often hailed by many as his finest, his most mature, and his most fully realized work. While that may have been true then and still is in many ways, the film 25 years later is semi-problematic in its portrayal of male attitudes toward female sexuality. However, the portrayal of Alyssa (Joey Lauren Adams), the object of Holden's romantic interest, is labeled as gay, but is more of a case of sexual fluidity mis
Holdens' sham-fisted attempts to reconcile Alyssa's sexuality and choices are his demise in the film, and it is very much about his attempts to find love despite his limited male understanding and empathy. Adams lights up the screen, but her existence remains a mystery.
Chasing Amy remains a great deal of truth and humor, and it remains one of Smith's most innovative high points.
If you weren't around in the 1990s or were too young to remember the decade, it's hard to describe how crucial Kevin Smith's first and finest film was. We mean both independent and totally independent, as in, you must use your mother's credit cards and hope you get into a festival. These highly specific elements, somewhat miraculously, tapped directly into the Gen-X/older millennial zeitgeist, which allowed it to land in middle America like a foul-mouthed nuclear bomb.
Smith's first screenplay retains a universal appeal, despite his own obscenities and obsessions of post-80s geeks everywhere. What would the life of a contractor on the Death Star be like if Smith had not created a different sort of long-winded monologue that was filled with painful sexual agony?
Even the crude naivete and amateurish quality of the films remain assets, owing to visual and narrative limitations giving it a documentarian authenticity. You can smell the condensation on the milk bottles that the title characters have to stock daily, and smell the weed coming from the stoners on the street. It has the instantaneity of modern social media, but a hundred times the eloquence.