Kevin Smith – tough on airlines, not biggest Bruce Willis fan.

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I make no bones about being a Kevin Smith fan.  Even if “Clerks” had been the totality of his output and he had never made another film, one could make a case for his being an original and engaging cinema voice quite unlike any other.

Thankfully, he has made more than a few films well worthy of viewing – I regularly put “Mallrats” in for a viewing, love the hell out of “Dogma” as a statement on faith and think “Clerks 2” may be that rare sequel which is better than the original instalment in the series.

Even films like “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back” get regular play from me – it isn’t big, it certainly isn’t clever but its profane warmth, Morris Day and The Time climactic dance number and George Carlin cameo make it worth checking out every couple of years.  And I like “Jersey Girl” without any irony whatsoever – I think it’s a charming and oddly truthful look at being an adult and trying to negotiate your dreams and balance far-fetched notions with the demands of family.

My issues with Smith’s recent output are shared by the director himself in his new book, “Tough Shit – Life Advice From a Fat Lazy Slob Who Did Good”.

He seems bemused and chastened by the failure of “Zack and Miri Make A Porno” – which I confess to having found not very interesting when I watched half of it a few years ago.  It’s still on my Blu-Ray shelf, waiting to be watched completely and probably isn’t anywhere near as annoying as I found it on initial viewing.

Reflecting on the fact that he somehow managed to end kindred spirit Seth Rogen‘s box office winning streak when they worked together, Smith is quick to note that by the time that “Zack and Miri” came around, his films were increasingly informed by cinema as an art form itself rather than any resemblance to real life and suffered accordingly for that disconnection from the audience.

Still, at least I own “Zack and Miri” – I have yet to find a copy of Smith’s subsequent major studio Bruce Willis vehicle “Cop Out” online which is cheap enough to persuade me to buy it.  I rented the film and made my way through twenty minutes before getting the distinct sense that A) Bruce Willis was phoning it in and B) That Kevin, if not quite at the phone booth, was certainly in the queue behind Willis and making ready to do same.

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Reading Smith’s new book, it’s a wonder that he made it through the shoot without giving the once and future John McClane a richly deserved kick in the unmentionables.

Diva antics like you wouldn’t believe, a refusal to turn up and y’know act, and a distinct sense that he stopped enjoying his work many years ago – Willis doesn’t come over well and this negative pen portrait is only enhanced by Smith employing the same degree of lacerating analysis to himself, so as to neatly sidestep any accusations of placing the blame for an underperforming film on its lead actor in a bid to excuse his own shortcomings as a film maker – short comings which Smith is only too keen to point out at regular intervals in the book.

It’s an enjoyable read and a neat spin on the traditional self-help/motivational tome which clogs up bookstores the planet over – Smith’s central thesis is that life is so unavoidably finite and essentially devoid of meaning that any minute spent doing something that you hate is a moment too long.

Admittedly, in Smith’s case, such vocational pursuits are usually studio films with a decent pay cheque attached but the point is well made – if you’re going to check out from this planetary orbit in thirty or so years, you may as well do so having spent your life engaged in things which make you happy.

Any ideas on how to turn wearing cargo shorts, liking unhip European metal bands and tickling my dog’s belly into a mortgage-paying career opportunity will be gratefully received.

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7 Comments

Filed under Films, Geekery

7 responses to “Kevin Smith – tough on airlines, not biggest Bruce Willis fan.

  1. I consider myself a Kevin Smith fan, and I agree that Clerks 2 might well be better than the original, even though I understand that’s an unpopular opinion. But if you are suggesting that Smith is well on his way to the phone booth, I’d argue he’s stuffed into it right now and can’t unwedge himself.

    I present as evidence his movie Red State. I hung in there waiting to see if any of this would mean something, and found out at the end of the movie that it hadn’t. I had wasted my time. Luckily I didn’t go to a theater to watch it; it was on Netflix. In fact, it may have only been on Netflix. I don’t think it was released in theaters.

    Exhibit B would be his TV show Comic Book Men. A reality show about guys in a comic book shop should have been great, but he managed to make it unwatchable. It had The Walking Dead as a lead in and still got cancelled.

    Talent and Art isn’t forever. Sometimes it expires and you have to settle with the good stuff that has already been done. There may not be any more of it.

  2. bigdave17

    Just ordered the book and waiting impatiently for it! Have you watch the latest 2 q&a’s? The too fat for forty one is basically the whole Gretzky story that he told at the O2 we saw a few years back

    • It’s awesome – despite being filled with some of the stuff that you’ve heard on SmodCast or seen in Q&A’s over the years.

      There’s even a sweet essay from…I won’t spoil it!

      • bigdave17

        I’ve got my fingers crossed it arrives in the morning then to give me some good reading over the weekend, I may even take a leaf out of your pool and post about it

  3. Growing up in Kevin Smith territory (Chasing Amy was filmed in the town in which I lived in for 25 years! and Dogma was filmed the town right next to mine) it’s hard not to love the tubby bastard. But, with the exception of Zack and Miri (which you should watch again, I thought it was pretty damn funny) his work outside of the Jersey Chronicles is quite lackluster. The Comic book shop show was terrible also. I really hope he finds his funny bone again (and stays the far fuck away from horror/thriller, Red State, WTF). He excels at writing some great dialog. I’ve had people seriously think that all people from Jersey talked in long diatribes to each other because of his movies.
    For some great Kevin Smith you may have missed on check out his Night With Kevin Smith DVDs. It’s more or less Q&A and various film making stories he tells to a bunch of college kids. Hilarious stuff.

    Thanks for the heads up on this book, it is now added to my reading list.

    • Jersey represent!

      I’ve enjoyed the Q&A dvd’s – and got to go to see Kev in London a few years ago with my compadre Dave. As I responded to Mike earlier in the comments, I think Kev’s movie funny bone/passion for the game might have proven elusive of late, but I still think he has one great film in him.

      And we’ll always have SmodCast…

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