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The Anthrax of film, not the disease but the band
June 7, 2009 4:27 AM   Subscribe

Multipart interview with film maker Kevin Smith on his career so far, why he's directing a film he didn't write, the internet and dying an early death. Part 1 - Selling Out And Salty Language, Part 2 - Writing & Film Making, Part 3 - Change, Death, Legacy, Part 4 - The Dark Side Of The Internet, Part 5 - The Curse Of Chasing Amy, Part 6 - Bright Side Of The Internet, Part 7- Talking To People He Wrote, Part 8 - Gretzky, Gratitude & God, Part 9 - Risking His Life & Starting A New One (and more to come apparently...)
posted by fearfulsymmetry (67 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite

 
Light Box! Reshoot!
posted by chillmost at 5:40 AM on June 7, 2009


I realize not all of Metafilter shares my love of Kevin Smith's movies, but he's hands down the best show business talker since Robert Evans. If you enjoy these, definitely check out the "Evening With" series, but to really mainline the Keviny goodness, you have to listen to Smodcast, the podcast he does with his longtime friend and producer Scott Mosier. The great thing about Smodcast, other than its consistent hilariousness, is that Kevin Smith literally has no filter whatsoever. He'll tell you how cool it is to have money after growing up lower middle class, and how much it hurt when his last movie stiffed. He'll also tell you all about his sex life and his fear of sharks. He might be the only man in Hollywood who will tell his fans the truth about everything all the time, and in my opinion that would make him fascinating even if I didn't love his movies.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:46 AM on June 7, 2009 [13 favorites]


People do love to crap on Kevin Smith. Not quite sure why. I don't think his movies are all that great, but they are amusing, and I do like the guy. I also enjoy the heck out of Smodcast.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:46 AM on June 7, 2009


Whoops! Beaten to the smodcast link.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:46 AM on June 7, 2009


Wait, shouldn't Smith be writing movies for other people to direct?

Oh my God, I just realized something. Both Smith and M. Night Shamalamadingdong have been riding on the success of a couple of films from the 90s. Smith writes snappy dialogue but can't direct his way out of a paper bag. Shamalama couldn't write a wedding invitation, let alone an entire film, but he can direct well enough and come up with some clever compositions. I smell a collaboration, and a joint career comeback!
posted by billysumday at 5:50 AM on June 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


I am going to go against the tide here and say Kevin Smith doesn't know how to write, either.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:59 AM on June 7, 2009 [8 favorites]


People do love to crap on Kevin Smith. Not quite sure why. I don't think his movies are all that great...

Friend, you've answered your own question.
posted by billysumday at 6:10 AM on June 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Maneki Neko behind Kevin on the shelf...
posted by gen at 6:27 AM on June 7, 2009


Hey Warner Brothers - don't think about it, don't argue with me, offer Smith whatever sum it requires to get him writing & directing a Green Arrow film. Then, sit back and print money.
posted by EatTheWeak at 6:41 AM on June 7, 2009 [5 favorites]


I'm kinda one of those guys who has drifted away from Smith films... but I still find him a fascinating talker and he seems like a genuine nice guy.

And re dying early; seeing the size he is now I worry he's gonna just drop down dead from a massive heart attack any second now, or just explode or something...

Kevin Smith shows off his editing room

posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:54 AM on June 7, 2009


Shamalamadingdong

He's a Paki! Har Har.
posted by chunking express at 6:59 AM on June 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


I've never understood why someone I find so personable, charming, and well spoken translates so poorly to film. I have never sat through one of his movies and enjoyed the experience.
posted by orville sash at 7:03 AM on June 7, 2009


See also Kevin Smith's unbelievably weird/hilarious story about making a prince documentary
posted by orville sash at 7:04 AM on June 7, 2009 [5 favorites]


He's talking about the respect he got after Zak and Miri. That movie was was unwatchable. I shut it off after 45 mins out of pure boredom.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 7:13 AM on June 7, 2009


People do love to crap on Kevin Smith. Not quite sure why.

I think it's the way he ruins near-perfect films with fart jokes and teeth-grating soliloquys. I'm not sure which is worse.

I do endorse the comments above about Smith being an excellent talker. I've met him twice, at two different events (I'm so important he didn't remember me after the first time... but I wouldn't either) and he's the same grounded-but-clever person he is in interviews and those golden DVD commentaries. He could run a talk show 100x better than, like, Jimmy Fallon.

I might even watch.
posted by rokusan at 7:24 AM on June 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


Nobody, nobody likes Kevin Smith more than Kevin Smith.

But some of the people at the "Evening with…" come pretty close.
posted by paisley henosis at 7:35 AM on June 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Nobody, nobody likes Kevin Smith more than Kevin Smith.

I don't really see that. He gets passionate and excited about what he does, loves making movies and talking about them.

As a computer geek I see people like this all the time; we're not much fun at parties when we get going (except when surrounded by people just like us), but it's not arrogance.
posted by vanar sena at 7:50 AM on June 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Nobody, nobody likes Kevin Smith more than Kevin Smith.

I have to agree with vanar sena here - Kevin Smith is a classic case of playing the outrageous joker to deflect attention from other aspects of himself. When you really listen to him talk about himself (weight, dick size, relationship with Jen, even his movies sometimes) what comes across is how deeply insecure he really is. To me that is the antithesis of the Hollywood egotist who is in love with his own reflection.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 8:01 AM on June 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


But "what he does" is make movies which are, at best, very average.

I watched the Price story a while back, [HERE THAR BE SPOILARS] and at the end he mentions how he never got a 'thank you' from Prince, and how he did this whole gig for free as a favor, and all I could think was "if you weren't comfortable doing this for free, why the fuck did you do it for free?" Prince didn't put a gun to his head and make him do this, he should have asked for money, you know Prince has tons of it, damn. He didn't thank you. Fine. It seems like he didn't really like you, or is kind of a dick. That was the whole point of the story, right? That Price is maybe a dick?

Then I made the mistake of loading up Another Evening with KS on Netflix on-demand, and it was even worse. The whole thing was stroking his ego, then stroking his fans' egos, then making fun of some of his fans, for some odd reason, and then stroking his own ego some more. It made me sick. I wound up fast-forwarding to the questions, but they really aren't any better, so I turned it off.

Dogma is the only thing close to a good movie he has ever made. There, I said it.
posted by paisley henosis at 8:19 AM on June 7, 2009


Kevin Smith is indeed an excellent talker.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 8:21 AM on June 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Chasing Amy was such a brutally awful movie. It's in my "bottom three" along with Magnolia and Armageddon.
posted by Afroblanco at 8:39 AM on June 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Kevin smith is a TERRIBLE director, why in the hell would anybody want him to direct a script he didn't write? I'd much rather someone direct one of his scripts, honestly.
posted by empath at 8:42 AM on June 7, 2009


Growing up in New Jersey in the 90s, Kevin Smith's first few movies were something that did resonate with me, particularly Clerks and Chasing Amy. This was something different, and it really had a hold on a lot of the people I hung out with. I had a friend who, during the time we worked at Wawa, watched Clerks every day to get through the tedium. During college (1999-2003), my friends and I were all loyal Smith fans, at least through Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back. Somewhere between that and Jersey Girl, enough mystique got stripped off of the guy that it wasn't a life-destroying blow when 95% of that movie was horrible. (The scene from Sweeney Todd was brilliant.) Clerks II didn't exactly redeem him, and as far as I'm concerned Zack and Miri Make a Porno was amusing but not the most amazing thing Seth Rogen had been in during the last couple of years. But I still feel like we were let down, that Smith didn't turn out to be as awesome as we thought he was. I'm not sure if that's totally fair, but for me it still hangs over the whole proceedings here.

For what it's worth, I don't know why anyone, ever, thinks that having Smith direct a film he didn't write is a good idea.
posted by graymouser at 8:47 AM on June 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


I was 10 minutes into link one before I realized that he'd been talking almost non-stop: no questions and only the barest of prompting from the interviewer.
posted by zippy at 8:48 AM on June 7, 2009


Oh yeah, and Forest Gump. My god did I hate Forest Gump.
posted by Afroblanco at 8:55 AM on June 7, 2009


No mention of Associate Producer Mike during those interviews?
posted by Old Man Wilson at 9:01 AM on June 7, 2009


I just watched Zack and Miri and frankly it stuck with me for many days, both the humor and the relationships. Both are highly-contrived but are engaging in a way that lasts; it's been a while since I saw one of his movies and had that reaction (I guess I saw Dogma in the theater and hated it hated it hated it).

I thought it was interesting that the movie seemed like an Apatow movie from the marketing but then you realize that the Superbad-esque gross/outrageous/improvised run-on dialogue comes from Smith - I'm not saying he invented it overall but he certainly evolved it as a form and I happen to really really enjoy when he pulls it off well. So that movie was quite satisfying and gave me a slight overview of his influence, the state of comedy films, etc. etc.
posted by stevil at 9:43 AM on June 7, 2009


Kevin Smith is the Cory Doctorow of filmmaking.
posted by Ratio at 9:53 AM on June 7, 2009 [6 favorites]


No no, it's like this: Kevin Smith is the Phish of filmmaking. His films (or, gag, 'flicks') I can take or leave, some of them I've enjoyed, some of them I haven't, but Kevin Smith fans need to be beaten to death with something cancerous.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:19 AM on June 7, 2009


Oh my God, I just realized something. Both Smith and M. Night Shamalamadingdong have been riding on the success of a couple of films from the 90s. Smith writes snappy dialogue but can't direct his way out of a paper bag. Shamalama couldn't write a wedding invitation, let alone an entire film, but he can direct well enough and come up with some clever compositions. I smell a collaboration, and a joint career comeback!

They were in New Jersey THE WHOLE TIME!
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:20 AM on June 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Chasing Amy was fucking terrible, but if you watch only this scene, or if you start the movie as normal and then hit stop when this clip ends, it is pretty funny.

No joke, somebody gave me an Amy VHS way back when, I don't think that tape ever played past 15 minutes in the entire time I owned it.
posted by paisley henosis at 11:25 AM on June 7, 2009


Kevin Smith is the Cory Doctorow of filmmaking.

Oh, snap!
posted by infinitywaltz at 11:26 AM on June 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


People do love to crap on Kevin Smith. Not quite sure why.

Because they dislike his movies and can't understand how they get good reviews, so they have to go over-the-top in their criticism. I'm sure part of it is that there is no obvious difference between the people who like the movies and people who don't, so the haters can't just chalk it up to better taste or whatnot.
posted by smackfu at 12:07 PM on June 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have this halfbaked theory about Zack and Miri, that it was originally planned to be Jay and Silent Bob Make a Porno - life long best friends who have never considered having a sexual relationship? All sorts of gay jokes and anal sex grossout humor? I think it just makes more sense if that had been the original idea.
posted by idiopath at 12:15 PM on June 7, 2009


I never thought of this before but man does Smith play with his hair A LOT.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:33 PM on June 7, 2009


Because they dislike his movies and can't understand how they get good reviews, so they have to go over-the-top in their criticism.

Kevin Smith movies get bad reviews. Right or wrong, the critical consensus on Kevin Smith is the same as the public consensus - that he's mediocre.

I would imagine the truth is that the dick jokes and DIY of movies like Clerks resonate very strongly with teenage nerds. He feels like something special, that belongs to them. They get a little older, grow out of BEAR IS DRIVING CAR at the same time that they learn that Kevin Smith is the least cool director possible, and overcompensate by proclaiming their hatred like an eight year old screaming that Dora is baby stuff.
posted by Simon! at 1:31 PM on June 7, 2009


I have this idea* of a halfbaked Fight Club theory that Jay and Silent Bob are the same person. Except in this instance the Id is the driving force and the higher more logical conscience takes a back seat and only speaks when needed.

*not really
posted by P.o.B. at 1:38 PM on June 7, 2009


Holy Shit! He made Chasing Amy for 250 thousand?
posted by P.o.B. at 1:52 PM on June 7, 2009


I enjoy Kevin Smith movies. They're not perfect, but I enjoy them.
posted by Mikey-San at 2:21 PM on June 7, 2009


okay i did not really like jay & silent bob that much
posted by Mikey-San at 2:22 PM on June 7, 2009


I would imagine the truth is that the dick jokes and DIY of movies like Clerks resonate very strongly with teenage nerds.

Eh, I don't buy that. The audiences he gets at his college talks does not fit that stereotype. Teenage nerds aren't the only ones who like dick jokes, sorry.
posted by smackfu at 3:01 PM on June 7, 2009


I'm going to quote Holden here...

"The Internet has given everyone in America a voice. For some reason, everyone is using it to bitch about movies."

It seemed so oddly appropriate.
posted by Talez at 3:18 PM on June 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


> I've never understood why someone I find so personable, charming, and well spoken translates so poorly to film. I have never sat through one of his movies and enjoyed the experience.

I like bits and pieces of some of his films, and I enjoyed both Dogma and Chasing Amy... but I'm pretty sure the essence of his popularity is just what it appears to be: He's your Goofy High School Pal, made good. After Quentin Tarantino sneers at your newest short and then abruptly leaves with a Czech-Somali model, Kevin Smith will try to cheer you up over a burger.
posted by darth_tedious at 3:37 PM on June 7, 2009 [6 favorites]


I've only walked out of one movie in my entire life, and it was a Kevin Smith flick. The man can't direct a film to save his life. The dialogue is always badly staged. One person speaks and then another person speaks and then the previous person speaks. It is like a high school play. No actual resemblance to the manner in which actual conversations go, especially heated ones....you know, where people step all over each others lines interrupting one another. Instead, all of Smith's dialogue seems to be artificially staged and totally hackneyed.
posted by GavinR at 4:47 PM on June 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think his appeal is a regional/class thing.

Lower middle-class mid-atlantic suburbs are an absolute cultural fucking wasteland, and largely ignored by the media. Jay and Silent Bob talked liked my friends talked, Dante and Randall were living a life I identified with. Clerks was the first movie I saw that looked like it could have been about the actual life I was living. It felt real to me, and I felt and immediate connection to Kevin Smith, and as much as I think he's an awful director, he's coming from a place I understand and relate to.
posted by empath at 5:49 PM on June 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


Nobody, nobody likes Kevin Smith more than Kevin Smith.

I don't think you could be more wrong. DiscourseMarker has it right, above.

It's pretty clear a lot of people didn't actually watch the linked interviews. Hell, in the second part, he repeatedly talks about what a shitty director he is, and how he knows he's still not very good, but that he feels like he might be getting a little better. He calls himself the 'retarded stepchild of cinema, where people are proud if he learns to tie his own shoes' for goodness sakes.

I really like Kevin Smith. He has some weird fascinations, sure, but he is, as far as I can tell after listening to his podcasts for the better part of a year, fearlessly honest, funny, smart, completely conscious of his limited skills but thrilled to be able to do something he loves, fiercely loyal to his friends, and just generally the kind of guy you'd love to have a few beers with and butt heads with as you struggle to get words in edgewise.

He's also self-deprecating to the point of being annoying though, and his lack of self-confidence seem to make him overcompensate with loquacity to the point of being overwhelming, but we all have our faults, and at least he's aware of and honest about his own.

I reiterate that I don't think his movies are all that great, and I defend the notion that not all movies need to be great. I think he writes and makes the kind of movies that he and his friends would like to see, and if he keeps getting money to do that, I have absolutely no problem with it.

Are there moviemakers that are clearly better than him, that maybe consider themselves artists, labouring in obscurity, angry that this fart-joke loving doofus is still getting paid to make movies while they aren't? Yeah, sure, there certainly are.

On the other hand, are there soulless Hollywood drones getting paid 1000 times what Smith gets paid to direct the next explodo-porn piece of summer-blockbuster dreck? Yup, plenty of them, too. But I don't think, even if you can criticize the man's limited skills -- and he'll beat you to the punch doing it -- you could ever say that Smith doesn't have soul.

I don't care if someone's a great artist as much as I care if they've got a bit of soul. I don't begrudge him his success one bit, and I hope he keeps making slightly crap movies that I probably won't see.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:56 PM on June 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


Kevin Smith is the Cory Doctorow of filmmaking.

When it wants to be, Metafilter can be very thought-provoking; it just often doesn't want to be.

This comparison almost works - both of these men are very open about their processes, what interests them, what they encounter. They both maintain direct dialogue with their audiences and occasionally attempt to ambulate them - Doctorow a lot, Smith less so. And they both are both big and small, with people knowing who they are in certain circles and absolutely anonymous and unknown in others, with the people who know them so often exposed to their personalities they are surprised when people haven't heard of them. These people also might use the name as a shorthand: "Like Cory Doctorow", or "Like Kevin Smith".

On the other hand, Doctorow is in fact much more private than Smith - good luck finding too many photos of him with his family or to find out something he doesn't feel like talking about, while Smith has spoken on sold DVDs of the initial sexual contact of the woman he married.

Each person's stance/relationship to these fellows is likely very different, because they've worked so hard to engage their audience, but while I have grown to dislike Doctorow immensely over the years I've been bombarded by him, it is extremely difficult for me not to have a great fondness for Smith. We were born within a month of each other, both lived in the same "Tri-State Area", and both went to film school. I didn't make a movie until many years later, but he made one at 24 and kept going. I watch him move through his life, and I don't see how people could not like him, with his aw-shucks outlook and his personable wit. That film that was linked of him showing his editing studio - even though that's the obvious conceit of the clip, I really do feel like I just "stopped by" and my buddy Kevin who I got to know through such-and-such at the party is giving me that Sunday-morning tour of his place. That connection far outlasts with me more than liking or disliking a given movie he's made; it's just great how he turns around and tells you what is up.

It is inspiring, for example, to know that he took cash he made from his films and spent it not on moving to an entirely different community and surrounding himself with moats but on a comic book store. OK, just kidding, he also moved to an entirely different community and bought this crazy-ass house. But still!

Stepping back to play 20-15 hindsight Internet Forum Nerd, I do agree that Smith would have been better served as shifting to a writer-executive producer aspect exclusively, just doing a couple of films as director when the script or movie was absolutely top notch. Or, maybe, hung out with some other directors and gotten influence from them? Hard to say. When he made Dogma, maybe it was because the stakes were so high on a personal level, but he feels very invested in making that movie work, and if he'd done a bunch of films of that, you'd like or dislike his stuff, but not as strongly. But again, his life is as unscripted as everyone's else; I'm just glad he's bringing me along for the ride.
posted by jscott at 7:18 PM on June 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, what stavros said.
posted by jscott at 7:19 PM on June 7, 2009


stavrosthewonderchicken: Nobody, nobody likes Kevin Smith more than Kevin Smith.

I don't think you could be more wrong. DiscourseMarker has it right, above.

It's pretty clear a lot of people didn't actually watch the linked interviews. Hell, in the second part, he repeatedly talks about what a shitty director he is, and how he knows he's still not very good, but that he feels like he might be getting a little better. He calls himself the 'retarded stepchild of cinema, where people are proud if he learns to tie his own shoes' for goodness sakes.


I've listened to several hours of Kevin Smith interviews, which may not be as many as you have, but it is much more than none. And I wasn't just spleen venting, I honestly believe what I said; I'll try to explain why.

Every story Kevin tells is, at its core, about Kevin. Not about The Movie, or Prince, or whatever, but about Kevin interacting with those things. It is literally self-centered, to the point where you wonder if his lessons on astronomy involve the Earth's axis moving when he flies from coast to coast. He tells a story, ostensibly about Prince, and the entire story is Kevin doing things, and Kevin being surprised by unsurprising things, and Kevin making wacky comments, with Prince wondering in and out of the background scenery. For comparison, Charlie Murphy tells a story about Prince and the story is about Prince, first and foremost, front and center. In fact, Charlie is an almost inconsequential part of the story, which lets the strangeness of Prince shine all on its own. Though I'm not sure that that story is real (I've heard from people who know him that Charlie had tons of stories like this, and that they were all the Gospel, but it sure seems far fetched) it really doesn't matter, because as an example of storytelling it is very well done. Kevin cannot talk about anything without talking about Kevin. Drives me nuts.

As for his constantly berating himself, that is a disgusting ego-stroke. He even does it with a smirk half the time, the "oh right, no no I'm a looser, right guys?" smirk. He sheds crocodile tears precisely so that he can preemptively take the venom out of anyone's negativity. It is textbook to the point where the "dumpy looking unpopular kid who makes jokes so we don't bully/mock him" is a stand-up trope. Except that good comics, or even just maturing adults, move past the "hah hah I'm an ugly loser" song-and-dance and either develop good comedy, or stop doing it. Kevin is practically tugging on mommy's apron begging for a kiss on his boo-boo and a cookie. Sure "hah hah I'm not good looking enough to date you [so you don't have to shoot me down, k?]" has turned into "hah hah I made shitty movies to pay my bills, I'm such a sell-out [so you don't have to stop buying my shit, k?]" but it's the same shtick.

Ten years ago I thought Clerks was pretty good. Ignoring everything else he has done, I still see the merit in it, as a proof of concept. Dogma, mostly, was pretty decent. My wife wants to watch that "Zack and Mimi Make Porno," which I guess will give me a chance to see something he wrote but didn't direct. Honestly, I don't mind him being a not great filmmaker. I don't mind him making a living at it. But I hate hearing about what a great guy he is, when he is just as self-absorbed as every other Hollywood shithead. Just because he dresses like a highschool student and over-shares doesn't make him like me.
posted by paisley henosis at 7:42 PM on June 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


Been a Smith fan since I saw "Clerks" in a local rundown indie theater. Touching on the same points other Smith defenders have made here, his storytelling isn't Oscar-worthy stuff but it does have a personable, low-rent honesty that like-minded, similarly foul-mouthed geeks such as myself can appreciate. None of his flicks are what I would call Desert Island flicks, but despite his admitted amateurishness and occasional stumbles, I do anticipate his movies because they're guaranteed entertainment. And, yes, to make an observation out of context: they contain dick and fart jokes, but they're certainly not on the level of the barrel-scraping found in your typical teen T & A fest or, FSM forbid, a Happy Madison production - I will defend to my death the superiority of the Coen Bros. as high art, but that doesn't mean I have to dismiss Smith's aesthetically lesser films as guilty pleasures.

Or: It's striking to see such unabashed trashing of Smith's relative lack of directorial talent so soon after this thread.
posted by dgbellak at 8:57 PM on June 7, 2009


You may be right, paisley. You certainly seem to be vehement about it. But I don't know the man, and I'll choose to give him the benefit of the doubt.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:00 PM on June 7, 2009


If you like Kevin Smith (or don't dislike him - that is, you don't have the 'posting smack about KS' hipster merit badge), don't waste your time trying to defend him. He doesn't need it. Just watch his movies, smile a bit, laugh a little, groan occasionally and have a nice day. Leave the haters to their hating. Kevin Smith will keep on being Kevin Smith and making Kevin Smith movies no matter what they say.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 10:19 PM on June 7, 2009


My favorite is listening to the director commentaries for his films, which are usually very good. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back actually had two commentaries -- one where it was all the other actors dicking around, and one where he basically kicked everyone else out and did a commentary with just him (and I think the Askew historian?).
posted by Deathalicious at 10:20 PM on June 7, 2009


I was enthusiastic about Smodcast when I first started listening too. Maybe it was them hitting the weed all during the 'cast which attracted me. But after a few shows, I began to realize that Smith is an egotistical, self-centered, xenophobic asshole. (Scott Moser is not, BTW.) Whose religion is, get this, ice hockey. Whose limited and self-referential worldview led directly to the unfunny and contrived disaster that was his last movie, "Zach and Miri Make a Porno".
posted by telstar at 10:24 PM on June 7, 2009


I began to realize that Smith is an egotistical, self-centered, xenophobic asshole.

Heh. Whatever you do, don't go anywhere near the Adam Carolla podcast. Your head will quite literally explode.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:34 PM on June 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


The great thing about Smodcast, other than its consistent hilariousness, is that Kevin Smith literally has no filter whatsoever. He'll tell you how cool it is to have money after growing up lower middle class, and how much it hurt when his last movie stiffed.

Oh, man, I love the Smodcast, but damn. The week before Zack & Miri was released they were all enthusiastic and talking about how the next couple of podcasts were probably going to be director's commentaries for the movie, and how excited they were about releasing the movie, etc etc.
The week after it's released? No podcast.
Week after that? Nope.
I think it was 3-4 weeks after the movie where they came back, and for two episodes Kevin Smith was the most morose, sad sack, woe-is-me whiny bitchy bastard.

The critics liked your movie. Be happy in that. No one saw it. Perhaps because you created a goddamn romantic comedy with the word Porno in it, about porn. Edgy? Maybe. But romcom's don't play to the same people edgy comedy plays to.
posted by graventy at 10:53 PM on June 7, 2009


When I saw the poster ads for ZAMMAP, I was confused as to which sex the name "Miri" applied to. I guess Miri would be short for Miriam, but I've met a Miriam or two and they don't use that nickname. I've never met anyone who called themself "Miri".

Then too, this is supposed to be a contemporary movie. Are we to accept that in the YouTube era, two down-on-their-luck young people would worry about building sets and having a producer for their self-made porn? That's what I mean by "self-referential".
posted by telstar at 11:07 PM on June 7, 2009


that charlie murphy story is brilliant, the acting out of it is funny, but the story itself, the telling of it is genius. Thanks.
posted by From Bklyn at 1:58 AM on June 8, 2009


Ten years ago I thought Clerks was pretty good. Ignoring everything else he has done, I still see the merit in it, as a proof of concept.

I agree with this point; Smith made the prototype of a film where there could be all kinds of vulgarity and crassness without losing the dramatic element. But really, I think it was the whole Judd Apatow/Seth Rogen clan who've taken those rough outlines and actually made really good films with them, along with a few clunkers. No wonder Smith cast Rogen and pals in "Zack and Miri"; he was hoping some of the talent would rub off.
posted by Big Fat Tycoon at 11:39 AM on June 8, 2009


Kevin Smith will keep on being Kevin Smith and making Kevin Smith movies no matter what they say.

I think that's the problem. I'm about the same age as Smith, and his movies hit me pretty hard in the mid-'90s. They articulated a lot I was experiencing. Now, a decade later, I've kinda left all that behind. And Smith has definitely left it behind -- but his movies haven't. They haven't grown up. Sometimes you change, your friend doesn't, and you can't really hang anymore. All the stuff you used to have in common is the stuff you now find embarrassing about the person you used to be. It's like you look at that guy and all you can see is yourself with a mullet. That's not really fair to that guy, of course...
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:16 PM on June 8, 2009 [2 favorites]



Kevin Smith is the Cory Doctorow of filmmaking.

You mean he wears goggles, a red cape and travels by hot air balloon?
posted by indiebass at 1:36 PM on June 8, 2009


I like Kevin Smith. His movies, not so much. I basically think of him as the SModcast guy now.

I don't really see how you can say he loves himself so much, then talk about how he does constant ego-stroking to deflect abuse. That's not what someone who loves themselves does, that's what someone insecure does.

Regarding the "constant hockey" thing in SModcast, that's a recent (and, yeah, not too interesting) thing. Same with the constant pot smoking. He wasn't always a big pothead, just the last year or so (less than a year?)

And, yeah, his anecdotes mostly revolve around himself, because they can. That is, everybody is most familiar with themselves, and their day-to-day activities. But most people aren't very good story tellers, so they can't make their own life amusing (except in rare anecdotes), and hence rely on stories about other folks. He rarely uses set-piece stories, and instead just uses the internal monologue pretty much everyone does. You hear a weird story about someone in a fucked up situation, and what do you (internally) do? You think "what would I have done in that situation?" He thinks that too, and uses it as the foundation of his story, which makes the story in the end less about the fucked up situation, and more about his thoughts about it. That isn't egotism, it's just using the material which is most at hand: himself.
posted by Bugbread at 5:20 PM on June 8, 2009


Not to mention the fact when you watch someone interviewed about themselves or their creations, by and large it's going to be about them. The Charlie Murphy story seems kind of a weak comparison because it's not an interview setting, but a funny story edited for skit comedy.
posted by P.o.B. at 6:54 PM on June 8, 2009


I agree with bugbread here. Whenever I watch one of the Evening with Kevin Smith Q&As, I can easily picture myself in Kevin's shoes, observing the situation as he experienced it. That's part of his speaking style, and I enjoy it.

He's also been on a big Canada kick for quite a while. Maybe that ties into the pot somehow. (I can't believe I had no idea about the SModcast -- thanks, Horace Rumpole, for the info! Now to catch up on 80-odd episodes over the next few months...)
posted by armage at 7:07 PM on June 8, 2009


Are we to accept that in the YouTube era, two down-on-their-luck young people would worry about building sets and having a producer for their self-made porn? That's what I mean by "self-referential".

This was my main problem with the movie. In this age of HD Flip cameras I can't imagine anyone seriously undertaking an old school film production with all that expense.

Here's my rundown on Smith's movies for me.

Clerks: Crude, occasionally funny and very much of its time.
Mallrats: Funny mostly, though some stretches really lag.
Chasing Amy: Don't really remember it much. Need to rewatch.
Dogma: I like this one a lot. Could've done without much of the potty humor, and the "action" scenes are terribly directed, but there is a lot of really sharp writing in this movie.
Jay and Silent Bob: Mostly unfunny until the last 25 minutes when the two actually get to L.A. and it becomes a full-on Hollywood satire. That should've been the whole movie.
Zach and Miri: Great cast, but see above.

I like Smodcast, but I skip the ones when he has on his old high school buddies. At least twice I've gotten to the end and realized I just listened to two people talk about friends they know/knew for an hour--that's it!
posted by zardoz at 3:11 AM on June 9, 2009


I enjoy the high school buddy episodes (for some reason, I especially like Walt Flanagan), but the episodes that I don't like are when something comes up which about which Kevin says "it blows my mind", because once that phrase comes out, it just means he's going to repeat how incredulous he is, for the next hour or so. And the other ones I dislike are when he and Scott role-play. In the earlier SModcasts, they were pretty funny, but now the role-play sessions just drag the fuck on, with too much scene-setting and not enough actual humour. Still, those don't happen each episode.
posted by Bugbread at 6:05 AM on June 9, 2009


Don't care what you guys say, Kevin Smith is awesome. Some of his movies suck, but he himself is awesome. Like you do a perfect job every time you go to work.
posted by Bageena at 5:36 PM on June 9, 2009


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