Today is one of my favorite directors, Kevin Smith’s birthday and I wanted to honor his underappreciated work, with my top ten best films of his.
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001)
Jay and Silent Bob is a perfect example of why side characters, rarely deserve a spinoff film. I like the film but it’s undeniable that the Jay and Bob shtick gets tiring. There are however some hilarious scenes and the Kevin Smith meta jokes are brilliant. Nowadays, Smith himself admits he only makes films for himself and his fans but this film was the first of those films.
Speaking of films Kevin Smith made for himself…. we get to Tusk. So Smith read a story online, talked about it on his podcast and made the film. Tusk is so bizarre that I’m still not sure if I even like this film but I know it’s definitely interesting. Justin Long had a ‘different’ kind of challenge that he pulled off and Michael Parks gives an awesome performance and he may be making another appearance on the list later.
Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008)
Craig Robinson makes this film a hilarious comedy and kills it in every scene he’s in. This is probably Kevin Smith’s most predictable and cliche film but if you’re willing to go with it, it’s a fun time and there’s more than a few good laughs.
Clerks II (2006)
Clerks II is pretty much a copy of the first but the old and the new characters are so much fun to watch and Smith’s realistic, snappy dialogue is present here like all his other films. Dante and Randall’s debates never get old and I can’t wait to see them again in a third film.
Last week in my Top Ten Matt Damon films, I said Dogma was an underrated comedy and I stand by that this week. This is a constant, really funny religious comedy, that may be smarter than you think. The cast is brilliant all around and if you were a fan of the late, great Alan Rickman he gives a unique, forgotten performance and does so perfectly.
Jersey Girl (2004)
I know everyone hates this film and because of it’s reputation I had never seen it before, until last week. Now that I have seen it, I don’t understand all the hate. Affleck (for the most part) was really good in this role and the beginning really hit me hard. I thought it was a nice, heartwarming drama that deserves way more credit than it gets!
Kevin Smith’s debut film Clerks, put him on the map as an indie director to look out for. What has now become a trademark of his, the dialogue in this film is a joy to listen to and for what is a very talky film, Clerks is riveting from start to finish. This is the perfect example of how sometimes, stripped down, basic filmmaking can create some of the most exciting kind of art. There’s nothing more to Clerks than a bunch of people sitting around talking, yet once it grabs you it never lets go.
The follow up to Clerks, Mallrats pretty much follows the same formula as Smith’s first but expanded into a bigger setting. Jason Lee was a great addition to what is now a very familiar set of actors and the open area that is the mall, allowed Smith to create stupid yet hilarious situations for these characters to get involved in (force sensitive Silent Bob is my favorite). Maybe it’s just because I relate to what Kevin Smith writes more than most but his early work has always resonated with me more than most directors.
Chasing Amy (1997)
Along with Jersey Girl, Chasing Amy is Kevin Smith’s attempt to make a normal film. Maybe the romance isn’t as conventional as most romantic comedies but at it’s core, it’s a basic rom-com with Kevin Smith dialogue and humor. Outside of Affleck’s films that he directed, I think he’s at his best when he works with Smith, he and Joey Lauren Adams had strong chemistry and his relationship with Jason Lee was also interesting. Chasing Amy is a wonderful romantic comedy that can work for both men and women.
Red State (2011)
Almost Kevin Smith’s entire career has been in my opinion, underrated film after underrated film, with the exception of one (looking at you Cop Out) but none have been more criminally overlooked as Red State. This film is excellent but is so rarely brought up in any film conversation. Michael Parks gives an incredible performance as the main antagonist and he alone creates so much terrifying tension. He and Smith have become one of the best, new actor-director pairing since DiCaprio started working with Scorsese, that’s how much I love this performance! Red State takes twist and turns you won’t see coming and actually has some well crafted action. If you haven’t seen this film, it’s something very different from anything Smith has done before and I think it will blow you away.
Next Week – Top Ten R-Rated Comedies