Kevin Smith’s “Spoilers”

I’ve been a Kevin Smith for some time. To toss out the obligatory “Back in the day” I loved Clerks, Mallrats and then of course Chasing Amy, which I still think is some of the best acting/directing I’ve seen in a low budget, dramatic tone. However, although I dug pretty much everythhing Mr. Smith did from that point on, I’d be lying if I said my ‘Love’ ratio didn’t decrease the more his budget increased. Then Clerks II happened and it was the first time I had a slightly adverse reaction to one of Kevin Smith’s films.

I don’t want it to sound as though I’m saying I thought Clerks II was bad – and since I’ve only ever seen it the one time during its inital theatrical run I suspect that when I do eventually see it again it will ring a bit stronger for me – but to kind of sloppily quantify the film’s effect on me, it was the first time I’d ever felt my age. Something about the way Dante and Randal’s characters had aged (badly, more or less) made me feel a bit old myself (I’m currently enjoying 36 years under the belt but typically feel about twenty-three on any given day). What’s more, while I watched the film the phrase “you can’t go home again” kept echoing through my head, like Marge Simpson at the Quickie Mart with “Lisa needs Braces – dental Plan – Lisa needs Braces” haunting her to the point of cleptomania. Clerks II didn’t inadvertently guide me steal anything, but it did make me distance myself a bit from Smith. Nothing against him, I just kept reading about all these new projects he had in the works and although I love his New Jerseyverse, it was just… weird to have him continually go back there. He has always struck me as being super capable of other things: the horror film, the hockey film and whatever else he had talked about in interviews over the years, and for him to perpetually not go there (although who can blame him with the ridiculous and down right mean response to Jersey Girl, which I thought was a fantastic first venture away from what he was known for) – well, I began to worry he was suffering from Dante-itus.

Not the case, but I’ll get to that in a moment.

I’ve talked before about how this “casting off” seems to be a natural phenomenon with the media generations. I find occasionally I have to distance myself from music or movies from the earlier stages of my development just to be able to dust out the attic and evolve. Sometimes I go back to those favorites, sometimes I don’t. With Smith I’ve come back around in a BIG way, first because of Red State, then because of the absolutely deft manuevering the man has done in recognizing the changing tide of the entertainment industry and uprooting his entire parqadigm to go from making movies for ungrateful studios to, as he so brilliantly says in one of his podcasts, “finding a way to live in the nooks and crannies of his audience’s lives” and launching all kinds of new media ventures, most specifically (and successfully) a massively entertaining Podcast network that boasts shows with not only his own bad self but prodcuer extraordinaire Scott Mosier, comedian Jay Mohr, the always wily Jason Mewes and even a porn star. (The main draw of these casts for me is Hollywood Babylon, the one he does with the brilliant and also ridiculously talented Ralph Garman).

Smith, who time and again, through listening to these podcasts, seeing him live several times and of course the verbose dialogue of the characters of his movies, proves his main draw is that he is one of the best speakers in the public eye today – now has a show on Hulu called “Spoilers” . I could give you the premise, but how about I just post the first episode and you see for yourself.

Keep up the great work Mr. Smith, you’re breaking ground and making people laugh, two things that don’t always go so well together.


Shawn C Baker

Shawn C Baker

Shawn lives in Los Angeles where he co-hosts Drinking w/ Comics, writes screenplays and fiction and has been known to drink quite a bit of beer. Good beer.

One Response to Kevin Smith’s “Spoilers”
  1. Chester Whelks Reply

    Kevin Smith is fantastic at being himself. This is what makes the ‘Original Trilogy’ so endearing, and his speaking appearances so enduring. I think the rot started to set in with Dogma. After ‘finally having something to say’ with Chasing Amy, ‘Dogma’ was an indication of his success leading him to believe he could tackle the bigger issues (though some might argue that he did that with trying to take on lesbianism with its predecessor).

    Then came the abhorrent ‘Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back’ which I remember being bored and nonplussed-by in equal measure (I tried to watch it a couple of months ago and had to turn it off after about 15 minutes). I too was affronted by Clerks II, but wasn’t that i was getting old, it was that Kevin was needlessly out of his depth. The worst thing about Clerks II (and the freshly completed first draft of Clerks III which sits on his laptop) is that the Hollywood-dwelling, film directing Kevin Smith has no idea what it is like to be the Kevin Smith of a parallel universe. A guy whose frivolous experiment in filmmaking about his time working in a convenience store impressed no one at Sundance, and spent the next decade trying to pay-off the credit cards he maxed-out to make up for that expensive mistake. Clerks II posits what it would be like if he and Bryan Johnson remained on minimum wage, circling each other’s intellects via scatological humour inbetween suffering the public. What would Kevin know about that anymore?

    I remember seeing a webisode on View Askew about Kevin screening a rough cut of Clerks II for a couple of guys called Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, and feeling SO embarrassed on his behalf in the face of such a double-barrelled talent-gasm as those two. And I hadn’t even seen the fim yet. When I did, I felt even worse. It has flashes of his trademark mastery of dialogue, but on the whole I cannot understand for the life of me why Clerks II exists.

    And as for the impending completion of the Clerks Trilogy, I don’t understand why Kevin can’t lend his still evident abilities to something closer to home – doing so made his first three films so achingly great. Kevin Smith’s ad hoc monologues about working with Jon Peters on the ill feted ‘Superman Lives’ script, and the time he made a documentary about religion for Prince at Paisley Park are two of the most engrossing things I’ve seen in recent years, and certainly the best thing he did until Red State. You’d have thought the embittered Smith could take a swipe at celebrity/Hollywood after all he’s been through, especially considering he’s making more an more noises that hint toward him quitting the Director’s chair at some point.

    Come on Kev, you still have so much to say.

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