An Open Letter to Kevin Smith
Dear Kevin Smith,
As a former fan of yours that enjoyed a couple of your films, I am inclined to write this letter. I’m not interested in dodging the main subject: You are not a good writer and you’re an even worse director. The problem is that because of your sycophantic followers and your lame public speaking events that you somehow think are standup comedy, you’ve tricked yourself into thinking that you’re relevant. I’m here to tell you that you haven’t been relevant in nearly 20 years.
I will never forget the first time I saw Clerks. It made me laugh, it kept me endlessly interested, and it even had a very touching relationship between two “going nowhere” 20-somethings. I was actually naïve enough to think that maybe my generation had a new voice. Maybe we had finally found a director who could relate to us in the way that Woody Allen related to his generation’s human relationships back in the 70’s and 80’s. So, I waited for your second film with baited breath wondering what brilliance could come from you after you’d been given a real budget and professional crew. So, what did we get? Mallrats. Really? Your idea of a follow-up was to take the same “2 buddies” approach, place it in a mall, and add the most unfunny slapstick bullshit ever. The great jokes in Clerks centered on every day situations being overblown and populated with great characters. Mallrats was filled with unlikeable trash assholes that couldn’t act and spoke in run-on sentences. Several “great” jokes included you dressing up as Batman and flying across a line to crash into a woman’s dressing room, a bully who likes to rape women in the butt, and Michael Rooker eating pretzels that had been shoved up someone’s ass and then throwing them up. Really? That’s your follow up to one of the great low budget films of all time? I couldn’t tell if you made that film out of sheer pressure to strike while the iron was hot and producers were offering you a job or if you had no good ideas after Clerks. You’d like to think that it has been more appreciated over time after its complete box office failure. But, no. It sucked then it sucks now. Let’s not even forget about the horrid performances all the way around. Jason Lee and Ben Affleck are the one only ones who get free passes off this turd. Everyone else is horrendous, particularly Jeremy London who has less than zero talent. I’ve heard you criticize him publicly but you’re the director. If you didn’t like it, you should have fired him before you stamped your name on that piece of shit.
Next up after that failure was to return to your low budget roots and make Chasing Amy. While a step up from Mallrats, it still contained more of the crap dialogue from Mallrats that made it so nauseating. The worst offender is your take off of Jaws where Ben Affleck and Joey Lauren Adams share stories of eating pussy. It flies so far away from any type of real conversations that it sounds fake and contrived. There really aren’t any jokes in this film. All of the humor comes from Jason Lee uttering the word “gay” and “faggot” every 3 seconds. So, without any jokes, what are we left with? A shitty romantic comedy that doesn’t work. And why doesn’t it work? First, the acting is terrible. Joey Lauren Adams has easily the most annoying voice I’ve ever heard. Anytime she raises her voice she sounds like Minnie Mouse with a head cold. I discovered she used to be your ex-girlfriend and easily figured out why she got the role. The other main problem is the story. Clerks was something that people could relate to. There are a lot of us that have worked in customer service wondering if we had any direction in our lives. But, I doubt many of us were friends with a beautiful lesbian who turned straight because they fell in love with me while dodging a sexual past where she slept with half the town and their best friend is secretly gay, in love with me, and hates my lesbian friend girlfriend. I’d say that time has taken care of Chasing Amy. It has been completely forgotten.
All of the films after this have gotten progressively worse and worse. Dogma was a complete disaster. It contained your classic run-on sentence dialogue only this time it was from Catholic Catechism. Wow! Let’s tackle the great issue of how God and people relate by having a huge rubber shit monster mixed with scenes of violence involving angels murdering people. Oh, and somehow you even manged to crowbar yourself into a starring role. After that, it was Jay and Silent Bob Strikes Back. It was more unfunny slapstick mixed with movie references from all the pig shit you made before it. There’s even a reference to the great chocolate covered pretzels from Mallrats.
The shit films continued. Next up was Jersey Girl. It was a feeble attempt to break out of your boring View Askew universe by making a PG-13 romantic comedy that was so ungodly boring that it actually hurt the rise of a friend of yours in Ben Affleck. He was probably at his fame peak at the time and you managed to knock him down a peg. Despite an A-list star, you managed to lose money on a film with a modest $35 million budget. He has luckily learned his lesson and hasn’t starred in a film for you since.
You must have panicked after moving away from the View Askew crap because your next outing was Clerks II. I’ll even admit that I was interested in this project simply because of my love for the original. But, you managed to fuck up the one thing you did right in the first one. It doesn’t matter what you talk about as long as you don’t show it! You started with Chasing Amy by showing black and white “flashbacks” while people told gross stories. But, here you actually show it all. I’ll be here to tell you that a man having sex with a donkey is not funny. It’s even less funny when it’s the big comedic finale of your fucking film and it goes on for an eternity.
Your last three movies are the most pitiful of your already embarrassing career. “Zak and Miri Make a Porno” is one of the most unfunny comedies I’ve ever seen. It’s a pathetic take on a moronically stupid premise. Like Clerks II, your big finale was also unfunny and boring. This time we get to see Jason Mewes’ cock. And, yes, that’s the joke. We see him naked…..yeesh. Talk about creatively bankrupt. It’s your worst film and one of the worst I’ve ever seen by anyone.
The last two are typically horrid. Cop Out was so bad that Bruce Willis didn’t want to promote it and you responded in your typically attention whoring way by calling him a fucking dick. For someone who’s never had a big box office hit, pissing off one of Hollywood’s biggest stars isn’t the smartest move.
Lastly, you made Red State. It’s embarrassing. It isn’t scary, contains not one shred of believability(something great horror films have), and has a villian that I can’t even comprehend what he’s saying. I wasn’t surprised either that despite being a horror flick, you still managed to have a scene with teenagers making fun of each other for being gay.
All of your films since Clerks are a waste of the audience’s time. Not only is the dialogue hokey and unrealistic within any comedic frame but your ability as a director is less than limited. You frame everything like it’s a TV show. 2-shot, 1-shot- 3-shot- 2-shot, 1-shot. Your camera is almost always static and your pacing is awful. That would be acceptable if it wasn’t for the bad actors you choose film after film. The ones that are good are always better when they work with someone else. Ben Affleck’s career should give you an idea. He has been plenty nice enough to work with you, even after he became a star. He did that despite the fact that he’s better than you at every aspect of the film business. He’s obviously a better actor but he also blows you away as a writer. That was reenforced by the fact that he has an Academy Award for penning Good Will Hunting. Then, he got behind the camera and made The Town and Gone Baby Gone. Both of these are films of real vision. That’s something that none of your flicks have ever had.
Nowadays, it seems that getting attention and spouting your mouth off appear to be your only talents. You got told you were too fat to sit in a plane. Most people would take that as a hint that maybe it’s time to put down the cheesecake. But, you got excited that you actually got some press for something other than your films sucking and you took to twitter! Between that and your gloried press junkets that you actually charge your fans for, you’re rolling in the “me time.” How can you in good conscience charge people to come and ask questions so that you can then insult their personal appearance? It’s not stand-up comedy. It’s the pathetic end to a career that should have ended almost 20 years ago. I used to hold out hope that you’d eventually turn it around and make another film that the audience would be proud to pay to see. But, it has been proven time and time again that you were always a one trick pony who’s true talent is convincing people that you have talent.
A former fan,
All I can say is that Kevin Smith is a nice person who keeps hundreds of people working on each of the projects that he does. He is loyal to the people who worked with him from the very beginning of his career and appreciates his crew.
His work may not be to your liking now, but “vision” or not, if people (esp those who paid to watch his work, even for “research” purposes) saw no entertanment merit at all in his work, studios/network/conferences wouldn’t front millions for his product and you’d be rid hearing the name “Kevin Smith”.
Faye, I disagree with your position that Kevin Smith’s career has anything to do with providing entertainment or that the merit of his works keep him working. What keeps him working is that dopes from my generation keep paying to see his films because they think they still owe him something be cause he made Clerks.
So, in reality, as long as Smith keeps the dollars flowing, despite how shitty his product is, we will continue to hear from him. The fact that his name is a revenue creator does not mean that his work has any artistic merit or that he actually provides entertainment.
Bravo for the most part. I agree with everything you said about Smith across the board and most of his films. They are complete shit and the only thing that gives him credibility is his cult pop-culture icon status. That’s the only reason studios are still throwing money at him for films. He does nothing but low-budget films and they never really lose money, overall.
I have to be honest, I haven’t really thought about Smith in those terms before. He is a one-trick pony and I haven’t seen anything from him that I’ve liked in years. It just occurred to me that I refused to even mention Comic Book Men on AMC on the blog because I have ZERO interest in it and I thoroughly expected it to be a mediocre piece of shit just as everything he does is.
But yes, I’ve been letting Smith off the hook for years because he was supposed to be, as you pointed a voice for our generation. He’s never lived up to that potential.
For the record, though, I disagree with you about Mallrats and Dogma. Mallrats is hilarious and Dogma is very good, as well, although I will say that the critics liked it a lot more than I ever did.
Ed Wood also employed all of his friends and is considered the worst filmmaker who ever lived. I am not putting Kevin Smith in that category but the mere fact that you’re defending his loyalty to his friends and not his actual talent behind a camera speaks volumes.
I actually liked Dogma. But that is all I am going to say about that.
Overall, I applaud your letter but I must confess I’m one of the “dopes” who likes Smith’s work and his college touring DVDs. With that said he is not infallible to me and his latest work has been nothing short of horrendous. When I reviewed Red State on my podcast and bashed it to within an inch of its life for being shit I got told I wasn’t being a good “fan” by my listeners. Clerks is great, I do enjoy Chasing Amy as Smith himself said he made it like a “science fiction film” because it’s not at all grounded in reality and Dogma made me feel better in terms of questioning Catholicism. His recent public rants via Twitter and his poor loser mentality has sullied me, but one can’t deny he’s changed the independent film world and does have the ability to entertain.
Well said Maroon. It’s nice to hear from someone who may like Smith more than I do but doesn’t drink the proverbial Kool-Aid. There’s far too many of his followers that refuse to admit that almost all of his films are inherently flawed. If he views Chasing Amy as a science fiction film then he shouldn’t have written it as a romantic comedy.
Great article! One of the worst things about Kevin Smith fanfare is that he is pretty much the poster boy for IFC. So many quality storytellers have come along since him, and they aren’t getting a whiff of recognition.
Ye he’s a one hit wonder and he’s never lived up to the brilliance of Clerks but why make an open letter attacking him, he isn’t the first and won’t be the last director to peak too early and then make some shit films
Because he nickels and dimes his fans to death. He sells his t-shirts, pushes his website store on his DVD commentaries, and charges his loyal followers to ask him questions. It’s not just that his films are now terrible. It’s that he has become a low rent filmmaker. He became a Salesman too….
Finally the truth. Knock Kevin Smith on the internet usually and it’s akin to blasphemy. He is a no-talent hack, his films are crap and he’s never made a penny at the box office. Deal with it.
Well, no, and that’s the problem. His films do keep making money. With the exception of Mallrats> and Red State, all of his films have made money (even Jersey Girl if you can believe it.
Red State Budget: $4,000,000 Gross: $1,104,682 (-$2,895,318)
Cop Out Budget: $30,000,000 Gross: $55,583,804 (+$15,583,804)
Zack and Miri Make a Porno Budget: $24,000,000 Gross: $42,105,111 (+$18,105,111)
Clerks II Budget: $5,000,000 Gross: $26,983,776 (+$21,983,776)
Jersey Girl Budget: $35,000,000 Gross: $36,098,382 (+$1,098,382)
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back Budget: $22,000,000 Gross: $33,788,161 (+$11,788,161)
Dogma Budget: $10,000,000 Gross: $30,652,890 (+$20,652,890)
Chasing Amy Budget: $250,000 Gross: $12,021,272 (+$11,771,272)
Mallrats Budget: $6,100,000 Gross: $2,122,561 (-$3,979,439)
Clerks Budget: $27,000 Gross: $3,151,130 (+$3,124,130)
I don’t know I was reading the wrong article, but this “letter” sounded more like a hate-filled rant than anything remotely constructive. You didn’t seem to offer anything in the way of reasoning behind your “arguments” apart from the fact that you didn’t like Smith’s films. If you’re gonna put hate on somebody, at least give us some reasoning behind it other than just “I don’t like him for no reason I’m prepared to say on the internet”.
Not that like Smith as a person, but I think his films range from okay to excellent.
I’m sorry, but did you not read this? He’s very specific with his reasoning. You need to read this completely and not scan it because I’m not wasting my time by doing all the legwork for you by copying and pasting.
My open letter is quite clear if you actually read the entire thing. I’m tired of my generation holding Kevin Smith on some type of pedestal. He hasn’t earned any of the accolades he has received since Clerks. Think of this as the angry rant of a customer that isn’t satisfied with the product that he spent his hard earned money on.
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This is all opinion. smh