As I watch Clerks 2 last night it got me thinking. For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to be a writer. I remember finding a typewriter when I was younger and loved to continuously type stories. Something about that sound was soothing to me and throughout the years there have been few writers that have really held my attention and truly motivated me to hone my craft. I’m sure you’re waiting for me to spout off some cliché list with the likes of Salinger, Lee or Hinton but you would be wrong. One person in particular that has helped shaped my voice is Kevin Smith. Kevin Smith you say? That guy that spent ten plus years writing dick and fart jokes? Yes, that’s the guy. Over the past twenty years Kevin Smith has delved into the human psyche to tell compelling and at times, heart wrenching stories, made us respect convenience store clerks, turned chocolate covered pretzels into weapons and in the process shaped an entire generation. Not bad for a couple dick and fart jokes. Boooonnnnngggg!
With his impending retirement from filmmaking, I want to take a look back on Kevin Smith’s filmography and share some of the nuggets of wisdom that I’ve collected over the years as a faithful viewer. So, sit back, relax and get ready to reach for the tissues as we all take a stroll down memory lane. Snoogans.
Clerks: “Just because they serve you, doesn’t mean they like you.”
I think there are a lot of valuable things that we can learn from Clerks. Beyond the obvious fact that you should never answer your phone on your day off, the movie also offers other things. Kevin Smith does a marvelous job at teaching us that life can throw so many unexpected things our way and our decisions not only have repercussions, but each choice is ours to make. Dante spends most of the movie complaining how his day has been ruined by the fact that ‘he wasn’t even supposed to be in today.” He believes that life has it out for him; from missing his hockey game to his ex-girlfriend having sexual shenanigans with the wrong kind of stiff and everything in between were the results of Dante’s decisions some way or another. Randall said it best, “Oh, Fuck you! Fuck you, pal! Jesus, there you go again trying to pass the buck. I’m the source of all your misery. Who closed the store to play hockey? Who closed the store to go to the wake? Who tried to win back his ex-girlfriend with even discussing how he felt with his present one? You wanna blame someone? Blame yourself.”
Mallrats: “They’re not here to shop. They’re not here to work. They’re just there.”
Okay, so you probably think that I’m crazy for including Mallrats but I’m not crazy, my mom had me tested. Underneath all of the brown-eye jokes and chocolate covered pretzels Mallrats is a touching coming of age story with a little love thrown in the mix. TS and Brodie are two best friends coasting through life and unfortunately for the duo they’re both dumped by their girlfriends. Seeking solace in their fortress of solitude – the local mall – the two slackers realize that it’s time grow up and fight for what they love. TS in particular finds himself with many obstacles in the way of his true love, but he won’t let anything stop him from getting what he loves. Mallrats has taught me not only about true love, but that anything worth having in this world is worth fighting for. Also, stuffing cats in places you shouldn’t has hazardous results.
Chasing Amy: “It’s not who you love. It’s how.”
Chasing Amy is probably one of the most truthful and sincere movies that Kevin Smith has made and it’s definitely one of my favorites. While this movie is about love, it isn’t the typical boy meets girl, fall madly in love forever type of story. This movie shows how love transcends the prototypical love that we’ve had shoved down our throats and proved that loved transcends the stereotypes we’ve placed upon the word. To me, Holden is the personification of those stereo types and his relationship with Banky is the perfect example. I don’t think Banky was in love with Holden in a sexual way, unless I missed something. Sometimes I’m not the most astute person. I think the love that Banky had for Holden was more like a brotherly love and he felt threatened that Holden could have that same kind of relationship with another person, but Holden can only see love in the typical sense and in essence is blinded.
Dogma: “Get ‘touched’ by an angel.”
Dogma is a lot deeper than a lot of people give it credit. Of course, once you get past the stripping muse, Cardinal George Carlin – may he rest in peace – and a giant poop monster I don’t think it’s hard to find to find the true meaning behind Dogma. It’s about faith but once again not in the prototypical sense. While religious faith may have been mentioned a time or two, it was more about faith in ourselves. Every single person, yours truly included, have been plagued with self doubt. Am I with the right person? Do these jeans make me look fat? Do I take the red pill or the blue pill? Should I genetically engineer dinosaurs for a theme park?… NO? Just me? Dogma is Smith’s way of telling us to have faith in ourselves…and that believing that a married man and woman never got it on is just pure gullibility.
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back: “Hollywood had it coming!”
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back actually teaches one very important lesson and yes I have actually seen the movie. Not only does this movie reiterate that Mark Hamill is really freaking awesome or that Scooby has a little something special in his snacks, but it shows not to take yourself too seriously. Kevin Smith didn’t set out to change the world with this movie or to purposely teach us any lessons. He made a movie – on a bet is what I’ve heard – that he couldn’t make a movie starring Jay and Silent Bob and boy did he hilariously prove that person wrong. Everyone complained that all Smith could do was write dick and fart jokes, so he gave us the biggest budgeted dick and fart joke ever created. He set out to have fun and to show that he doesn’t always take himself seriously. I bet you didn’t think I could find something did you?
Jersey Girl: “He wanted it all…but he got more than he bargained for.”
Jersey Girl is a film that doesn’t receive the credit that it deserves and was the first time that Mr. Smith was metaphorical stabbed with the double-edged sword of death. So many people wanted to see Kevin Smith do something other than his typical movies. “Think outside the poop filled box,” fans and critics said alike. So, he did and then was unfairly criticized for making a movie that didn’t inheritably feel like the typical View Askew film. It’s sad because Jersey Girl is probably one of his most genuine films and while it didn’t initially rank very high on my list, I think now as a parent, the movie speaks to me in a completely different way. To me, this movie represents the crossroads that we all come to at some point in our lives and as a parent – still can’t get used to the fact a lug like me is responsible for two lives – I have to put my children before me, because no matter what else I do in my lifetime, those children are my greatest accomplishment. Plus, J-Lo died pretty earlier in the film and Liv Tyler took her place. Good call, Kevin!
Clerks II: “With no power, comes no responsibility.”
Ah, Clerks II gloriously brought back those two loveable, foul-mouthed clerks and a few new characters as well. After the convenient store burns down from a rogue coffee pot, Dante and Randall decide to head for greener pastures, so they set up shot in the local fast food restaurant Mooby’s. What made this movie so much fun was that it allowed us to step back into a familiar world. What really touched me the most – beyond the Star Wars/ Lord of the Rings battle royal – was that this movie taught me to be the master of your own destiny. When Dante and Randall purchase the Quick Stop, they no longer have anyone breathing down their necks. They’re now the masters of their world and that’s what I strive to do; master my destiny. This ironically is what I named my naughty bits. I kid, I kid.
Zack and Miri Make a Porno: “A poster for everyone who finds our movie a little hard to swallow.”
What I can say about Zack and Miri Make a Porno is that it will send you reaching for the tissues in more ways than one (Wink, wink, nudge, nudge). Beyond the fact that this movie combined the comedic stylings of Kevin Smith, Seth Rogen and the hilarious and beautiful Elizabeth Banks –I may have a slight crush – Zack and Miri Make a Porno is also a touching story about friendship and love. I learned quite a bit from this movie: Star Wars themed porn is hilarious, Kevin Smith has finally taken his love of Star Wars too far, apparently Seth Rogen can be a porn star and love is worth fighting for. Pretty diverse list I know. This movie wasn’t the first time that Kevin tackled theme of love, so this movie doesn’t tread a lot of new ground. A little thing that did pop out at m is that we should be open to looking at things from different perspectives. Long time friends Zack and Miri only looked at each other in a single dimension and when they finally opened their minds, a whole new perspective opened up to them. And Star Wars themed porn is just hilarious.
Cop Out: “Rock out with your glock out.”
After losing about an hour and half of my life watching this movie, the most important lesson I can say I learned is don’t make Cop Out. This movie was so absolutely terrible – to no fault of Kevin Smith – that no one in the movie really seemed to want to be there. What I’d like to say next is that all of you movie critics should be ashamed of yourselves. Because you had your heads stuck so far up your pretentious ass holes that you couldn’t say one nice thing about Kevin Smith’s filmography, you’ve now forced him to direct this movie. I hope you’re all happy and you all know who you are.
On that moment I must bid you all adieu and before you say anything I am aware that I haven’t mentioned Smith’s latest outing, Red State, and that’s because – pause to prepare for gasps and harsh sneering – I haven’t seen the flick. Don’t worry because I do plan on rectifying this mistake very soon, but after taking this little road trip I’m feeling really nostalgic, so it’s time to have a little Kevin Smith marathon and I recommend you do the same. Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook or Twitter and may the nerd be with you.
– Joe D.