Monday, November 10, 2008
The verdict is in: Kevin Smith sucks*
On Saturday my wife asked if I was going to accompany her and my son for some Christmas shopping. I said no, and went to a movie by myself. Cause that's just how I roll.
I decided I needed a laugh, and figured Zack and Miri Make a Porno would turn the trick. Get it? Turn the trick...porn...hello, this thing on?
Anyway, my brief summary of the movie: on the plus side, it wasn't awful. In fact, I was actually engaged with it for the most part. On the down side, it just wasn't terribly funny.
Kevin Smith did do one thing right: hired three very likable actors for the lead roles: Seth Rogen, Elizabeth Banks and Craig Robinson, who kept the movie from going completely down the toilet. And there was nudity, so make that two things right. But that's about it.
Sitting there, cursing the loss of a much-needed eleven dollars, I began to ponder the question: is Kevin Smith still living off his rep from Clerks, and does he actually just suck as a writer/director?
I went to his imdb page and scanned his director's credits: obviously Clerks is beloved and shot him into the stratosphere. But then it gets iffy. Mallrats wasn't very good, but he bounced back with Chasing Amy. I didn't care much for Dogma, and have only seen half of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. It was amusing, but not great. Jersey Girl was terrible, and I didn't see Clerks 2, but don't remember it getting very good reviews. That's a pretty spotty record.
Yet for some reason, until now every time I heard Kevin Smith had a new movie coming out, I was intrigued and actively sought out the trailer online.
It always seems like I'm waiting for the risk-taking, manic energy in his movies that made Clerks what it was, but always come away disappointed.
The reason, I realize now, is simple: Clerks got a pass. When you judge Clerks, expectations are lower: they shot it on a shoestring budget and nobody knew what they were doing. And instead of being terrible, it was actually pretty good. But since "actually pretty good" was about 1000 times better than what most people expected of that movie, it got confused with actually being a great movie, when it's really not.
But now that Smith gets a decent budget and can land actors with name recognition, the bar is raised. Sadly, the quality hasn't gone up with it. Really, he peaked with Clerks and the lowered expectations, and just can't recapture that buzz.
Of course, luckily for Smith he's still going at a time when comedy in movies is on life support- if not for Judd Apatow, where would the genre be right now? Jim Carrey went off the deep end and has never made it back. Adam Sandler and Will Ferrell have made enough bad decisions between them to stall their careers.
The decline in the quality of comedy has gone down, but people still want to laugh. People will always want to laugh. So because of that, Kevin Smith will continue to make mediocre movies. I, however, won't be there for them.
*This is not endorsed by Chris, whatsoever.