Wednesday, October 30, 2019

I Finally Ranked All of Kevin Smith's Films

Now that I've caught up with most of the world and watched all of Kevin Smith's films to date, I get to see the latest one tonight. I'll be attending the Jay and Silent Bob Reboot roadshow as it lands here in Houston at the River Oaks Theater. It is for an event like this that I started watching all the Smith films after missing them all for the past twenty-five years. 

Tune in next week for my review of the new flick [and read to the end on my prediction of where Reboot lands], but in lieu of a review today, I thought I'd rank the existing 12 films as I enjoyed them. 

When I started thinking about it, three immediately jumped to the front. They all jockeyed for position, but even as I write this, I'm not sure which one will come out on top. My fourth pick is already set. The last spot is also set.

Remember: I'm a fifty-year-old dude watching these films for the first time starting in the summer of 2019. I didn't watch these films in real time for the past twenty-five years, growing and aging with the films and the director and the fan base. For each film, I did no initial research, which included not watching any trailers. I took each film as it was presented on screen.

Links to the original reviews are in each title. Don't forget the Introduction to learn where I started.

So here we go, in reverse order.

12. Red State - Despite the brilliant opening scene in which Michael Parks shows up on screen, Red State is easily the film I dislike the most. Easily bottom of my list. No contest. I appreciated the indie spirit with which it was made and distributed, but that's about it.

11. Tusk - Smith got his indie mojo back with this film and it shows. Loved seeing it, especially after the previous four films didn't really have it. Michael Parks could read the phone book and I'd buy the audio, the DVD, and a ticket, so him telling stories to Justin Long's Wallace was mesmerizing. But despite those truly wonderful moments, this film didn't strike me where I enjoy being.

10. Dogma - So, I'm writing this list about four months after I watched Dogma which, until Red State, was the film I disliked the most. But unlike Red State, Dogma is kind of a blank. Other than the ending and the presence of Alan Rickman delivering Smith dialogue like only Rickman can, I can barely recall much of this movie. It's not active dislike. It's more indifference. A shrug.

9. Zack and Miri Make a Porno - It's a romcom as only Smith can do it. I enjoy romcoms. Always have. There's some stuff in here I didn't like, but two scenes--Zack and Miri's lovemaking and the brainstorming--elevate this film. I liked the ending, but Zack was too dense and dumb to have said those things earlier in the film.

8. Yoga Hosers -  I asserted in the review that sometimes you watch a film for the performances no matter the plot. That's the case here. Harley Quinn Smith and Lily-Rose Depp are great in this film and I'd watch anything they're in. Johnny Depp seems to be having a blast being able to just be an actor. And Ralph Garman gets to show off his impressive impressions. A highlight of the entire run of Smith films for sure.

7. Cop Out - When I was watching the movie and making notes, I wrote this was Lethal Weapon lite, a throwback to the kinds of movies made in the 1980s. I loved those movies so I generally enjoyed this film even if I still pine for a buddy cop movie written by Smith himself.

6. Clerks - In my review, I posed the question if you could be too old to see Clerks for the first time. Maybe. What I saw in this movie as I saw it for the first time in 2019--fun talk about pop culture among friends--is the world I've always known. Now, it just seems like all those folks are now in positions of power and influence so we're getting umteen reboots to fuel our nostalgia. Nothing wrong with that at all, but it makes the impact of the original 1994 film less when you see it in 2019.

5. Clerks II - Why does this film rank higher than the original? Two scenes. As I'm writing this list, it's been nearly four months since I watched Clerks. Other than a couple of things, I can't remember much of the movie. With Clerks II, not only do I remember a scene I dislike (inter-species erotica), but I also remember two scenes quite well: the utterly charming rooftop dance sequence coupled with Dante's realization he loves Becky and Randal's raw and emotional declaration of love to Dante. Both swelled my heart and elevate this film.

4. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back - In the review, I compared this film to the Muppet Movie. Still holds true. It's wacky, irreverent, and chock full of every joke Smith could conceive. I suspect Reboot will be just like this, but with more heart.

3. Mallrats - So much to love in this film. A lot like Clerks, but with more heart. The antics of Jay and Silent Bob are akin to Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (read the review for context). The intro to Jay and Bob on screen is my favorite of all of them. It's a warmhearted story told by a twentysomething for other twentysomethings...and everyone else.  Jason Lee is perfect in this film. Loved the ending. And it's wildly hilarious.

[Going into ranking the Top 2, I re-watched both Chasing Amy and Jersey Girl. My love for both of them rose, but only one can came out on top.]

2. Chasing Amy - I think for many of you, this is Smith's best film. And, for me, it's nearly a tie at the top. But, as you'll read in a minute, this fifty-year-old dad can relate much more to the heartaches of being a dad versus the highs and lows of dating in your twenties. Even when I was in my twenties, my dating life wasn't nearly as painful as what Holden and Banky and Alyssa endure.

  • Still, this movie stars Joey Lauren Adams who, without question, gave the best performance in any Smith movie. When I think of favorite scenes in Smith's films, she's in three right off the bat. 
  • Jason Lee's Banky is wonderful (and a nice counterpoint to his turn in Mallrats) and Affleck has some great moments, too. 
  • A truly great film that would be at the top if not for the heartstrings only a dad can appreciate.

1. Jersey Girl - When I re-watched this film, I had my original notes beside me. In a different color ink, I made additional notes of things I saw the second time that affected me more.
  • George Carlin's role stood out even more so than the first. A great, yet gruff dad.
  • When Ollie and Gertie (Lopez) are told they're pregnant (and me remembering that moment in my own life). 
  • Ben's speech to baby Gertie, saying "I'm just your dad." 
  • The introduction of Raquel Castro when you see her face and Ollie says "You're chariot awaits." 
  • The realization that Ollie did what any parent would do when faced with raising a child: anything, including sweeping streets and sewer work. 
  • Liv Tyler as Mya is perfect casting as the slightly dorky love interest who almost trips over her own feet and words at times. 
  • The general chemistry between Affleck, Castro, and Carlin. 
  • The dual "What are your intentions?" scenes
  • The scene when Ollie and Gertie yell at each other about moving back to the city. Gut punch.
  • The "Hi, Daddy," line Castro says when Ollie comes to apologize. 
  • Gertie's line about if her mom loved the city "Then I guess I'll love it, too." when you realize the child changed for the dad. 
  • The realization that the child forgave the parent. Truly humbling. 
  • "I'm just a guy who'd rather play in the dirt with his kid." One of the best lines of dialogue about being a parent. All the feels.
  • The utter perfection when Gertie sees Ollie on stage and realizes he made it in time. Tears both times I saw the movie. Ever more feels.
  • Gertie touching her dad's face during that last dance. All the feels again.

In my review, I asked in what world was this film a bomb? Well, I finally watched the behind-the-scenes bit on the DVD and Kevin Smith himself has an answer: "You have to be a totally jaded prick not to like this movie."

I am far from a jaded prick. I am a man, a dad, who wears his heart and emotions on his sleeve. I tear up when I see those videos of soldiers/dads returning and surprising their kids. I tear up when I read about pets and animals. I tear up when I see stories about everyday folks helping out each other.

And I teared up multiple times when I saw this film the first time. It hit me square in the middle of my heart and I love it. I'm ready for it to have that second life some films get when time has passed and a re-evaluation occurs.


So there you go: My ranking of all twelve of Kevin Smith's films. It's been a fantastic viewing experience, and I'm looking forward to seeing Jay and Silent Bob Reboot tonight in Houston.

In case you can't tell, I'm a fan of films that have heart. In all of his talk on various podcasts about Reboot, Smith comes out and says this new film has lots of heart. He knows he can make us laugh. Now, he's going to see how well he makes us cry. I'm all in for that. So I'm heading to the River Oaks Theater tonight expecting multiple scenes that'll pull those tears right out of my eyes.

Jay and Silent Bob Reboot Prediction

My prediction of where Reboot will land on the Kevin Smith Films Ranked List? Probably #3 or #4. Reboot will likely be more heartwarming than Strike Back, so it'll be a battle between Reboot and Mallrats to determine the blend of stoner humor and heartwarming emotion. I can't wait to find out.

Tune in tomorrow for a list of my favorite performances in Smith's films. [I already gave away the top spot.]

Friday I'll list my favorite scenes.

Next week, return for my write-up of Jay and Silent Bob Reboot.

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