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Published April 25, 2011

So instead of focusing on being productive, I’ve spent the last 15 minutes wondering how I felt about Kevin Smith. Most people who know me know that I’ve loved Kevin Smiths work since I was 16. My first experience watching a Kevin Smith movie was at 15 when an old girlfriend of mine and I snuck into a screening of Dogma. I had no idea what Dogma was about, all I knew was that it had received good reviews at the Toronto International Film Festival, and that it was controversial. Needless to say I loved the movie; it was nutty, funny, and had a good message at the end about rational belief vs. irrational faith.

My next Kevin Smith experience would be at a friend’s house, who had borrowed Mallrats from one of his friends. I was 16 and going through one of those angst periods, so when I found myself laughing at Jay, Silent Bob, Brody, Gwen, and Mr. Svenning, I knew that I needed to find out more about this writer/director.

Over the next three months I would go on to rent Clerks (which would become my favorite Kevin Smith flick) and finally Chasing Amy. Those two movies gave me different reactions than the ones I had experienced with Dogma and Mallrats. Now don't get me wrong, I laughed...I laughed a lot. The thing is, these two movies connected with me on a different level. Chasing Amy was the first film I saw that come close to showing all the emotional highs and lows of relationships. One of the main focuses of the film is how we develop our own perception of our lovers, an unrealistic vision of who they are, and once that perception is threatened (normally by the past, which always sneaks up on us), we are unable to act rationally. When I reached the shocking third act, where the relationship finally comes undone, I couldn't help but evaluate my flaws and my inability to ignore the past of others. Clerks registered on the same emotional level as Chasing Amy, even if it didn’t have the luxury of a conventional plot. Clerks was written and directed to catch a glimpse into the lives of two normal guys who work in a convenience/rental store. The movie takes place in one day and at first might seem like a bunch of sketches stringed together, but by the end you realize that it’s a commentary on a lost generation (x and y alike). Watching Dante and Randall discuss pop culture, dick around with customers, and just completely show a lack of respect for work ethic made them interesting characters. What made them endearing to me was when they slowly start to reveal their flaws. They start to uncover hidden regrets and anger, they begin to admit they have wasted their life by choosing what's easy as opposed to what's right. Dante begins to realize that as much as it would please him to further his life, but he has lost any ambition and the will power to change. Dante’s life is further burdened by balancing a girlfriend who's right for him, and an ex-girlfriend he's in love with (but only made his life miserable when they were together). By the end of the movie all these simmering feelings are summed up and chastised by Randall in his “shit or get off the pot” speech. Of course it made sense for me to love Clerks. I felt like I was one of those lovable misfits. I fit their mold. I worked a dead end retail job, I did nothing but balance terrible relationships, and I seemed unable to do anything positive with my life.

So what about Kevin Smith? Why have I been thinking about him?

After the release of Dogma, Kevin wrote and directed: Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Jersey Girl, Clerks 2, Zach and Miri Make a Porno, and finally Cop Out (he did not write this last one, only directed it). Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back was made strictly for the fans, so I won't say anything more about it except that I saw it when I was 16, I liked it because it was an excuse to see Jay and Silent Bob in their own movie. It was also nice to catch up with all the characters from Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, and Dogma in cameo appearances. I also understand that Kevin Smith wrote this movie in an attempt to get Jason Mewes to quit his nasty drug addiction (it would be another five years before Jason would finally sober up).

So I guess what's been on my mind is.....did Kevin Smith sell out? Is he still the same indie writer/director enfant terrible that inspired me to want to write? Jersey Girl was horrible, and his knack for clever dialogue and balanced emotional resonance seemed to disappear. Clerks 2 was better, but was obviously his attempt at returning to familiar waters. Zack and Miri was decent and worth watching, but once again seemed to be borrowing heavily from Chasing Amy. As for Cop Out, I haven't seen it, but based on all the negative reviews, I’m sure it will rank up there with Jersey Girl. At 16 I thought Kevin Smith would continue to make movies that mirrored the emotional ups and downs of life. He allowed a generation to see understand their flaws, at the same time allowing you to laugh and understand that life is what you make of it. I've always waited with anticipation for his next movie in hopes that it would further force me to evaluate my flaws and my views on relationships, religion, success, and sex. Thus far I’ve been disappointed. I’ve gotten half of the Kevin Smith experience. I still laugh, I mean there’s a kid in all of us that loves to laugh at dick and fart jokes, but I want to laugh at witty dialogue. I want to care about characters and feel like they are people I know. That was another gift he possessed, allowing character to feel like they could exist in real life. In my life there was a “Jay and Silent Bob (not so silent though),” and I did love an “Amy,” and I could always count on friends that ranged from a “Randall” to a “Brody”.”

Has Kevin Smith sold out? Or has he given up?

There isn't much more to say. I hope anyone who's been reading has a response.


Danny
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