Cop Out

tn_copoutBruce(disclaimer: I started writing this review before everybody was writing about RED STATE playing at Sundance, and before you guys all discussed Kevin Smith to death. But I still decided to finish it because the tortoise vs. the hare, etc.)

Kevin Smith has been in the news lately for not wanting to be in the news. He’s done a few interviews about how he refuses to do interviews, and sights like /film have been kissing his ass for basically saying that sights like /film can kiss his ass. He has been doing promotion for his new movie RED STATE by going around saying that he will refuse to do any promotion for his new movie RED STATE.

Smith’s “if you’re not with my flicks you’re against my flicks so go fuck yourself” attitude goes back to the piss poor reviews he got for his last movie, COP OUT. Since it stars the actor Bruce Willis I was planning to break my non-Kevin-Smith-watching streak and pay to see it in the theater. But before I got to it I read that Smith was mad about negative reviews and wasn’t gonna allow critics screenings of his “flicks” anymore. He felt criticism of COP OUT was unfair since he wasn’t so much trying to make a high quality movie as something that could be compared to (and this is a quote) “a retarded kid who was getting a couple chuckles from the normies by singing ‘Afternoon Delight.'” And of course then he went to my favorite knucklehead standby, asking “Was it called SCHINDLER’S COP OUT?” Because you know how it’s not fair to have standards of quality for comedies or action movies, only movies about the Holocaust.

(And anyway the answer is yes, in some territories it was released as SCHINDLER’S COP OUT.)

All this of course read to me as “Dear Vern, please treat this new Bruce movie like DISNEY’S THE KID and THE WHOLE 9-10 YARDSes and skip it, signed, Kevin Smith.” And I followed that imagined advice.

Bruce Willis refused to pose for the poster to Cop Out
Bruce Willis refused to pose for the poster to Cop Out

That was a year ago or whatever, and to this day I haven’t heard anything positive about the movie. Now I watched it, and I gotta be honest… I didn’t think it was all that bad! I definitely wouldn’t recommend it to you fellas (partly ’cause I read that you already saw and hated it) and I have already forgotten most of it. But I gotta admit I got some laughs and I didn’t cringe as much as I did in the more personal Kevin Smith movies where he’s pouring his heart out or just making all his characters talk to each about Star Wars and dicks in the same type of rhythm and wording. I guess it’s kind of an asshole thing to say, but since I don’t really like Kevin Smith movies I was pleasantly surprised that this one felt more like an okay James Belushi movie from the ’80s. That’s more my speed I guess.

Sorry to give backhanded compliments here. I’m just being honest. Personally I prefer Smith’s movies that he later disowns to the ones that get Criterion editions. I actually thought ZACK AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO was the best of the ones I’ve seen. It looked like it was shot by professional camera operators, it was pretty funny and likable and had a good performance by Elizabeth Banks. Poor abandoned Superman Brandon Routh got to be funny it too. There was a key emotional moment (if I remember right it involved her falling in love with her friend while having sex with him on camera) that just rang completely false, but it didn’t feel like it sunk the whole movie the way those types of things did for me in CHASING AMY.

But that movie didn’t do very well and then he said in interviews that his heart wasn’t in it anymore. I guess I need his heart not to be in it for it to align with my tastes. Or to have Bruce Willis in it.

In COP OUT Bruce is the straight man and Tracey Morgan basically plays his insane 30 Rock character if he was for some reason allowed to carry a gun and enforce the law. I guess in a way this is kind of a step down from the racial politics of BEVERLY HILLS COP (which, I’m sorry to report, did not hold up at all when I watched it a couple years ago) because in that one the black guy was a con man who outsmarted everybody else, in this one he’s like a mildly retarded lunatic [NOTE FROM THE FUTURE: sorry for describing him that way back in the day, I’m not sure the right way to say it] who only achieves anything by accident, and has no clue what’s going on.

But on second thought he’s far more dignified than the characters in BAD BOYS, never calls himself a “negro,” makes fun of gays or threatens to rape anybody. So in a way this is an important movie for race relations. And there’s something to be said for the fact that it’s a white cop-black cop movie where no jokes or comments are made about their race. I respect that.

"But, really? All you’ve done is make fun of something that wasn’t doing you any harm and wanted only to give some cats a some fun laughs. " --Kevin Smith
“But, really? All you’ve done is make fun of something that wasn’t doing you any harm and wanted only to give some cats some fun laughs. ” –Kevin Smith

In the tradition of Daft Punk’s score for TRON LEGACY, the best thing about COP OUT is the score by Harold “Axel F Theme” Faltermeyer. It’s that type of bouncy keyboards and drum machines sound every smart-ass cop movie from the ’80s had. Well, the good kind, before LETHAL WEAPON came along and added white-blues guitar noodling and smooth jazz porn sax to the mix. Using this style of music seriously adds alot to the movie. I like it. There’s also an odd selection of iconic late ’80s rap songs by the likes of Beastie Boys, Run DMC and Eric B and Rakim. Oh yeah, and the end credits is a new retro-’80s type song by Patti Labelle!

I’m not gonna pretend all the humor works, or is as good as it could be. I did personally think the opening was funny where Morgan’s version of a “bad cop” interrogation is to randomly cobble together quotes from HEAT, SCARFACE and TRAINING DAY, and eventually devolve into nonsense like “yes they deserve to die and I hope they burn in hey-ell!” and “these are not the droids you’re looking for!” But it kind of kills it to add cutaways of Bruce noting what the different quotes come from. To be fair, I wouldn’t have known one of them was from THE COLOR PURPLE. But it’s still poor comedic form to spoon feed the “cats” in the audience like that.

Bruce is in a weird place to be doing a movie like this. Remember, he started out doing comedy, then became the funny wiseass action guy, which evolved into the stone-faced action guy, now he’s the stone-faced action guy in comedies. Not the best use of his talents, but he does the job well.

I don’t even think the plot is that bad. It’s the formula with a gentle amount of quirk. As usual Bruce plays a guy who fucked up his family life in the past. His ex-wife is remarried to a rich guy (Jason Lee from the ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS saga) who wants to pay for Bruce’s daughter’s dream wedding. Out of pride Bruce can’t let that happen, so he decides to sell his rare baseball card, which ends up getting stolen by a meth head (Seann William Scott) who trades it for drugs. So while suspended from the force (if I remember right) Bruce and Tracy Morgan are trying to take down this drug dealer, but mainly because they need to get the baseball card back.

And I like that the vicious druglord keeps the card, doesn’t sell it, because he collects baseball memorabilia. That in itself might not be a positive thing if it did not also mean that he has a batting cage where he tortures those who fail him by hitting balls at them. But it does, so I’m for it.

Like alot of cop movies there’s another pair of cops that are kind of the asshole rivals that give them shit all the time. They’re played by Kevin Pollack and Adam Brody. At first they seem like the typical version of this type of character, but they throw in these little nerdy touches here and there that make them different. I like the part where the young guy asks Pollack if he remembered to take his pills. He sounds like his mother. They don’t play it too broad or do a bunch of corny riffing on it. I was honestly impressed.

Willis (left), seen crushing the soul of director Kevin Smith
Willis (left), shown crushing the soul of director Kevin Smith

I finally got around to watching this movie after listening to this interview with Smith on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast, where Smith says that he always dreamed of meeting Bruce Willis but he turned out to be a total dick and it was “soul crushing.” If Bruce was being unfriendly I gotta wonder if he was just staying in character. The whole movie he has to glare bitterly at his partner the way one would imagine one would glare bitterly at Smith if one was annoyed that a professional director doesn’t know the names of different lenses (apparently Smith tells a story about that). The character is a dick, and the original title of the movie was “A COUPLE OF DICKS.”

In fact, you gotta admit that Bruce’s whole persona is a dick, going back to David Addison on Moonlighting. He always plays the lovable asshole, the wiseass who insults everybody around him, and it’s grating to the people in his life. As my buddy Mr. Armageddon pointed out when I was talking to him about it, “it’s not like you’re surprised that John McClane is divorced.” And you’re not surprised that in part 3 all the other cops despise him. Even though to us he’s awesome.

Smith's soul was first crushed by Willis in this terrible scene from LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD, a role Willis fought to have Smith play and then had him rewrite all his own dialogue to almost ruin the movie
Smith’s soul was first crushed by Willis when he appeared in this terrible scene from LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD. It’s a role Willis fought to have Smith play and even rewrite.

Of course that’s no excuse for being a pain in the ass to work with. I’d like to think it’s not true, that he’s a nice guy, but I wasn’t there.

So that’s a personal beef, you can’t really have much of an opinion on that from the outside, but Smith’s deal with critics and writers is another story. In his sudden war against the press I think Smith is pulling an M. Night Shyamalan (although I don’t think he ever showed the same knack for filmatism that Shyamalan used to). Shyamalan had done very well reviewed movies, some nominated for Oscars, until people hated THE VILLAGE, so in his next movie LADY IN THE WATER he’s so mad he makes the only person that gets killed be an asshole film critic. That’s called “being a baby,” and Smith is guilty too. He thinks critics are too hard on him, but from where I’m standing it seems like they gave him a free ride for about a decade because they thought he was a nice relatable guy. At least the internet people did. Even JAY AND SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK was well received on the internet, how do you explain that shit? How are you not grateful for that?

Smith's soul was crushed yet again in this seemingly friendly interview on the LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD dvd
Smith’s soul was crushed yet again in this seemingly friendly interview on the LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD dvd

I mean I’ve been on the internet talking about movies since ’99, and it was years before the tide turned against him. And this is surprising in a world built mostly on negativity.

I guess I have some sympathy for his vendetta. He seems to be on the internet twittering and bloggering all day, so he probly just gets shit thrown at him 24-7 and soaks it into his brain. Negative Nellies grow on the internet like bacteria. It doesn’t matter if you’re Stanley Kubrick, they’re gonna tell you you don’t know what you’re doing, and Kevin Smith is really, really not Stanley Kubrick, so I can only imagine what he gets on his message boards.

If that’s a motive for his war against the press then he’s lumping the writers who do articles and reviews with the talkbackers who just call you a cocksucker in all caps (or all lower case). Admittedly there’s a blurring of the line between those two. Anybody can start a websight. I can prove it, because I started one, and what the fuck do I know? What he’s maybe missing though is that he’s exactly the same thing. The reason those guys used to worship him is because he proved that anybody could make a movie, you didn’t have to have a ridiculous amount of money, or a film school degree, or know any actors, or have a sense of visuals. They loved CLERKS because they saw themselves in it, they loved him because they thought he was just like them. If this guy who calls everybody “cats” and wears a giant trenchcoat can sell his black and white home movie for a bunch of money and have it played in real theaters and buy a comic book shop and make action dolls then shit, maybe you can do something you dreamed of too, right? That was his whole appeal, I thought.

In the late ’90s and early 2000s most of the people on The Ain’t It Cool News considered CHASING AMY a mature, good movie, and Smith a great writer of dialogue. They thought he was gonna do a great job writing a Superman movie. They trusted his seal of approval on the Daredevil movie. He was one of them. It was one of the early examples of that “he’s a geek like us” attitude that they get a pass and it’s assumed everything they do is gonna be awesome because they know all about what happens in issue number 76 of Super X-Squad Rescue Force: Negative Zone Green Power Wars and Swords: Revelations #2 of 3 alternate scratch ‘n sniff cover B. (some comic book titles simulated)

Picture for a second that you’re a reviewer or columnist or somebody who has always related to Kevin Smith for those reasons. He was the guy who made fun of other people, not you. He talked shit about Tim Burton for not liking his Superman script, about Prince for being a weirdo, now about Bruce Willis for alleged dickishness, and about producers and marketers in the movie industry, faceless bad guys we can all agree to be against ’cause they don’t get it like you and your buddy Kevin Smith do. But then all the sudden he turns on you. He’s talking shit about your profession or hobby, calling you a parasite, bragging about how he doesn’t need you and how (this is my favorite) he has more Twitter followers than you.

I think there are alot of those guys out there feeling betrayed, so it makes sense that there’s a wave of anti-Kevin Smith sentiment now. He went out of his way to get that. He’s no longer “one of us” when he’s telling his guys that they suck.

Don’t take this too harsh, but in my opinion alot of the people writing about movies right now are kind of like Kevin Smiths or sub-Kevin Smiths of film criticism. They’re doing it because they had the gumption and made the effort to do it, and that’s great, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re doing a good job of it. I got alot of picky personal objections to the way people are doing it, both on the internet and in print (and shit, on podcasts too). It’s not really my business other than as a person who reads these websights and what not myself and wishes there were more great ones out there. But I can see how for Mr. Smith some dumb bandwagon-jumping gossip columnist with no brain for film analysis writing bad reviews of his movies without backing up their points well could be frustrating.

I might be a Kevin Smith too (I have the same book publisher, after all) but at the very least I aspire to more. I think film criticism can, should be and is more than some “plot summary, 2 stars, wait for the DVD” type bullshit. It can make you think about a movie in new ways, make connections you wouldn’t have thought of, point out beautiful things in a movie you’ve seen a hundred times but never noticed before, point you to a movie or a genre or a director you always ignored before. Now, because of the internet, it can even sometimes turn into a discussion with the people that made the movie or the people who fuck similar animals to the ones that are fucked in the movie, if the movie is the documentary ZOO and the review is the one I wrote on The Ain’t It Cool News. So I’m gonna say that yes, good film criticism is gonna be a hell of a lot more worthwhile to the world than Kevin Smith’s 500 randomly selected Twitter followers saying in one-hundred-however-many-characters whether or not they liked his “flick” (which he offered as a superior alternative to screening his movies for critics).

I guess most of those things are much more likely to occur in a positive review than a negative one. Maybe that’s why it becomes a chore to read reviews from somebody who has become so jaded they hardly seem to enjoy movies anymore. I don’t like people who dwell on the negative either. But sometimes movies are shitty. Sometimes you gotta tell it like it is, don’t you?

So I resent the concept of critics as worthless parasites. We’re more like the good parasites (isn’t there a bird that rides around on a rhino or something?). Yeah, there needs to be a movie for us to write about, but the movie and the culture of watching movies benefits when we’re doing it right.

And I mean, how the fuck does a guy grow up a movie nerd and not ever get into reading the reviews of the new Martin Scorsese, or looking up what Pauline Kael said about some movie you liked, or checking those “Cult Movies” books out at the prison library, or watching Siskel and Ebert? I gotta call bullshit on that one. If you’re really such a movie nerd and a writer then it just doesn’t make any sense that you would have no respect for talking about, analyzing, writing about movies. I don’t buy it.

You make movies, and you really don’t think it’s worthwhile to write about movies? Then maybe you’re not making movies that are worthwhile to write about, that’s the problem. It’s not us, it’s you.

Good call on Harold Faltermeyer though.

This entry was posted on Monday, January 31st, 2011 at 2:17 pm and is filed under Comedy/Laffs, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

197 Responses to “Cop Out”

  1. I was fine with Cop Out too. Give me generic Bruce Willis holding a gun making some one-liners, and I’m happier than 16 Blocks, Last Man Standing, Whole 9 Yards. I’m not saying it’s not Hamlet. I’m saying it’s not Die Hard but I still like it. Hope that’s okay.

    Thank you for the intelligent analysis of the Smith phenomenon. I wonder about the people who feel betrayed though. I like hearing Smith’s thoughts, altough the Tweets get a bit too much for me to follow. If he doesn’t want to screen for press, I’ll go see the movie on my own. If he doesn’t want to do interviews, I’ll miss talking to him but that’s his decision. The man’s a father, probably approaching his ’40s now. If he wants to spend a little more time offline, I can’t take it personally.

    I know, I know, it’s not that simple when he responds to every negative hater on Twitter. That’s more part of the phenomenon I don’t understand. I would personally let Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back stand as the definitive statement on internet haters and let it go, but that was just about talkback forums. Maybe he needs to do a sequel about Twitter and podcasting.

  2. You know I’m the only guy here who admitted to seriously liking this movie, but the Faltermeyer score didn’t work for me. It just sounded like someone, trying to sound like 80’s Faltermeyer, bot not getting it right or maybe even just sound different enough to not get sued, which made everything worse.
    Also I loved the Pollak and Brody characters, just because they seems to be the asshole cops at first, but soon it becomes clear that they only tease Bruce and his partner because they know each other for so long and know how far they can go, before it becomes an ugly, personal attack. Hell, they even give them a chance to clear everything up, instead of arresting them, when it looks like they entered the dark side of the law!
    But my favourite element of COP OUT is that it is pretty much a “part 3” in a buddy cop movie series, although there are no parts 1 & 2! When the movie starts, they are already partners for a few years, they know each other’s families and we see them dealing with them. Usually we had witnessed Bruce’s daughter grow up during the series and probably saw Tracy Morgan meet and marry his wife in part 1 or part 2.
    Also that is maybe the second time ever, that I laughed about Seann William Scott, so COP OUT gets some extra points for this alone.

  3. I doesn’t surprise me that Bruce would get along with Smith just fine until he had to be directed by him. Bruce is nothing if not a professional and I imagine it must be tedious to work with a director who seems to know less about his job than you do, especially when you’re the one who got him the job in the first place. It’s like when you’re good buddies with the class clown until you volunteer to be his partner on a project together and you end up having to carry his ass. You both get the same shitty grade but he doesn’t care because, hey, he’s just the class clown.

    Wow, that was a pretty good analogy right there. I’m pretty fucking proud of myself in my opinion.

  4. Well, Bruce may have a reputation in the industry pre-Smith. Joel Silver said he was too difficult to work with so Silver bailed out of the Die Hard sequels. That’s Joel Silver, one tough badass of a producer, saying he can’t work with Bruce. And I’m sure if you asked the producers of Moonlighting, it wasn’t all Cybill’s fault.

    I LOVE Bruce. I will see ANYTHING Bruce does (though I haven’t caught Breakfast of Champions or Hip Hop Project yet, but there are still some Nic Cage movies I have to see too.) Part of it is that I know Bruce’s cool, everyman persona might not be how he actually is, but whenever we need to see it, he turns it on. I’ve been lucky enough to get to meet Bruce several times and I must have had animated hearts circling my head. Also, the story of BWT (Bruce Willis Time) on Smith’s 3rd Evening With DVD sounds like a cool display of integrity, but imagine you’re a grip waiting to go home to your family.

    So Majestyk is right. I love Bruce. I get along with him as a viewer. That should be the extend of our relationship.

  5. I really find it depressing that there seems to be a Kevin Smith backlash. I think Chasing Amy, Clearks and (especially) Mallrats really funny movies. What I like about Clerks is that it was an indie comedy. But not like indie comedies of that time and since, Clerks is a legitimately funny indie comedy. There are VERY few of those.

  6. Vern,

    I know this wasn’t really the topic of your article, but any thoughts on the action in COP OUT. I think they are worth discussing because they are straightforward and don’t overdo the shakycam, manic editing, & extreme close-ups like so many modern action movies, but they still aren’t any good.

  7. Dan, that’s because Kevin Smith isn’t any good at directing.

  8. Right, I’m just saying I’m curious to hear Vern sound off on it, especially since he didn’t hate COP OUT with the same fiery passion that the rest of us did. Vern’s good at articulating the difference between a good action scene and a bad one, so I was wondering what he thought did or didn’t work about the action in COP OUT.

  9. Dan – that’s a good point, I should’ve gotten into that issue. There were none of the usual modern issues we complain about, but there was no excitement. To be honest I don’t even specifically remember what the action scenes were other than a chase where I believe Morgan was on a bicycle or something.

    I think we could say this about some of the lesser ’80s action movies too – there aren’t distracting stylistic tricks getting in the way of the excitement, there’s just not enough excitement in the first place.

  10. FTopel, can you tell me more about the BWT story? I’ve tried searching for it, but nothing came up.

  11. Here is a fun fact for you all.

    “”It was Steven Seagal’s Heart of Justice. I played a hooker with a heart of gold, which you do in a Steven Seagal movie. I made $2,000. Now my [TV] husband sleeps with them.” — Julianna Margulies on the role that got her a SAG card.

    For those trying to figure it out, Heart of Justice was apparently the original name of Out for Justice. Heart of wouldn’t have made as much sense.

  12. About connections : When I think about Kevin Smith , I always remember the time when I first watched Clerks. We rented 2 movies that night , Clerks and La Haine. Both black and white , both by young directors , both from different , distant realities , about young people and their problems , both foreign. I was honestly thinking that Kassovitz
    was the far superior director , with something meaningful to say , but now I look back and I don’t really like a lot of his movies after La Haine . I liked Assassin , but not on the same level , and I don’t know what to say about Babylon A.D. , that movie is full of problems , and maybe not all by Kassovitz . Looking back , he’s the bigger disappointment , not Smith . Smith’s movies are full of pop references and dick jokes , and that’s it , right now just as before . Sometimes I’m in the mood , sometimes not , and the last one I saw was Dogma . I skipped Clerks 2 because it seemed kind of forced , and I’m in no hurry to catch up . For me he always was average , but I also know people who loved him and are pissed by his recent offerings . To each his own I guess .

  13. Vern,

    I know what you mean. Although, it’s been to long since I’ve seen COP OUT to quote specifics, but whereas many recent action movies could be accused over being over-dynamic, COP OUT wasn’t dynamic enough. You could complain that maybe there wasn’t enough clever content in the action scenes (interesting settings, spectacular car crashes, novel setups and gimmicks, clever ways of killing people, etc), but I’m more of a formalist when it comes to action movies myself. I don’t think great content is need if you have a great director at the helm. I just watched THE KILLER the other night, and there are plenty of scenes where nothing “special” is happening, it’s just a bunch of dudes shooting back and forth at each other, but the way Woo filmed it makes it seem dynamic and balletic.

    Whereas I seem to recall COP OUT, despite not shaking the camera around too much or over-editing or any of that, being poorly staged. It wasn’t incoherent, but I felt like Smith often failed to set up the geography properly, so it just seemed like people were shooting in random directions and not at each other.

    The biggest flaw I clearly remember is in the car chase through the cemetery. It’s supposed to be an exciting, presumably “high speed chase” but the cars look like they are going about 10 miles an hour. Like they are going for a leisurely, scenic ride in the evening. Smith and co just didn’t know how to shoot the cars to make them look like they were going fast. I don’t know if it was a matter of not showing enough stationary background objects for contrast, or the angles or camera movements or what, but damn.

  14. I thought Cop-Out was fun. I liked how the soundtrack was so obviously derivative of 48 hours and Beverly Hills Cop. I also thought Tracy Morgan and Bruce made for a good team. Sean William Scott being a jerk is also always solid. I guess you could read what I just wrote as sarcasm, but it’s not. I thought this was fun.

  15. I heard from Harold Becker, direct of MERCURY RISING, that the first day he was on set Bruce announced to the crew: “Everybody remember – I’m the only one here who can’t get fired.”

    He told it as a “what a jerk” anecdote, but I think Bruce was probably just joking around. I mean, it’s a pretty funny thing to say, and most likely also true. Anyway, whether Bruce was mean to Smith or not has really got nothing to do with how the movie turned out. Otherwise how would you explain Bruce’s movies that are actually worth watching? Long as he wasn’t demanding changes that made the movie bad…and again, evidence would indicate that Bruce never does that (except when he insisted on casting Smith in LFODH.)

  16. On Bruce Willis : Yeah , I know he’s got a reputation for being a little difficult to work with , but that is also true for a lot of action star, like Wesley Snipes , that we recently discussed in the Game of Death 2011, or Van Damme , who refused to work with all the others in The Expendables. But I don’t know , Bruce sometimes seems like a nice guy (or maybe it’s the team he’s working with ) . He seems like a team player , having worked with big , star filled casts like in The Expendables or the Ocean’s guys , both times in smaller roles or cameos . He’s a supporter of new and young directors like Tarantino , at the time ( is it true that he worked for way less money than usual on Pulp Fiction , or something similar ? ), and Rodriguez , working with them a couple of times . He can’t be all that bad , right ?

  17. …Holy shit in a basket, Vern, that’s one hell of a detailed exploration of an issue that I personally had no idea existed until a couple of days ago. I almost feel dirty now for saying I’ve enjoyed every film of his that I’ve watched (haven’t seen “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back” or “Cop Out”, though).

    I mean, is this an American thing, a nerd thing, a comic book geek thing, what? Is this some kind of an example of “geek elitism” I hear so much about but never actually see in practice? Is this a common occurrence for you guys? Does it happen with any semi-famous or talented director who picks up a “cult” following after the sheen wears off? Is it the same as the “Lucas Effect”? Did it happen before the days of twitter and facebook? Did Scorcese and Spielberg get slammed in the cult magazines or whatever they had in those days? Did Hitchcock and Wells?

    You gotta help me understand this one guys, because to me this whole pointless debate makes about as much sense as those magazines that slam celebrities like Victoria Beckham for being a “size zero” on one page and advertise designer dresses for waifs and diet pills on the next, and has just about as much maturity to it. Seriously… I can’t think of a British equivalent to this kind of thing. Jonathan Ross, maybe, but that guy made an elderly man cry on national radio, so I hardly think the backlash against him was unwarranted. Plus it lasted about a week and just died off.

    So Smith p-ssed some people off on twitter, I get that. Why does anybody care? Is there a large subsection of the American population that has taken this fat bearded comic-book guy to heart so much that they feel betrayed by him and have to rant about it on the Internet? What the fuck does it matter? To anybody? Why don’t people say “oh, that was an asshole move” and just forget about it a week later and move on to the next thing – because from the impression I’m getting here, the Smith thing has been building up for much longer than that?

  18. Paul— It’s an internet film community thing, I kinda doubt the Smith controversy is taking up many column inches in the US mainsteam media. It’s mainly due to the fact that he took to the internet in a big way and has been using it to engage his fans since the get-go. If you can credit Smith with anything, it’s that he saw the potential of the web pretty much at it’s inception and has done more to leverage it than any other director.

  19. I hadn’t ever really considered it until I read your point, but I agree about preferring the Kevin Smith films that Kevin Smith isn’t proud of. Not that I particularly enjoyed Cop Out, but I do think Zack and Miri is much better than his other stuff. I really admire your attitude towards film reviewing, Vern. It’s entertaining but always thoughtful and fair, which I think this piece really captures.

  20. Paul- I don’t know man, Americans just tend to be really vocal about things that annoy them. We’re just like that. As for Smith, he’s always made a point of making sure that a huge part of being a fan of his was the supplemental stuff: the Podcasts, the Q and A’s and the site and Twitter and whatever. So when he goes off the deep end, the Internet is going to notice, especially the guys who’ve always stood by him for his entire career and are shocked when he starts throwing year long hissy fits.

  21. Great review Vern. Hey, now that you mention it, you haven’t had a TELL’S IT LIKE IT IS lately.

  22. I dunno, for some reason I still find JAY AND SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK an extremely funny movie. Granted, it’s got this very particular “needed to be there at the talkbacks in the 90’s” type of humor and vernacular, but hey, so do many of Vern’s reviews.

    It’s probably the only film I can quote verbatim forwards and backwards, and I don’t even like DOGMA, CHASING AMY or CLERKS that much.

  23. On a related note: snooch to the nooch!

  24. While working on SURROGATES, I spent some time on-set with Bruce. He was…I think the best word would be “stoic”. Didn’t laugh much, but he wasn’t a creep either, just kept to himself, hung out with his girlfriend, made calls on his cel phone, ect. Every so often he’d sort’ve half-grin (you know what I mean) at something. Shot his scenes with no complaints or attitude, seemed like a professional.

    A brief word on this notion that Kevin Smith has no visual sense: this is, frankly, not true. He may not have a very elaborate visual sense, but he knows how to frame a shot, where to point the camera, when to use a long shot and when to use a medium close up, ect. (He can get across the narrative and dramatic content of a scene without resorting to just a lot of closeups, which is virtually a lost art now) He knows what to film in order to tell a story. Many people cannot do even this. You may not believe me, but trust me. A friend of mine used to work for an independent distributor in the late 90s / early 2000s. Part of his job was watching screeners submitted to the company in the hopes that they would release these indie movies people had made and were now trying to get seen. And I ASSURE you–there are hundreds, probably thousands, of unreleased feature films out there, which the general public never sees, and for good reason; THEY are by people (although you sometimes wonder) who have NO VISUAL SENSE. I’d watch these screeners with my friend and–I mean, there’d be films where the shot is on the back of someone’s head for an entire scene and the other characters are offscreen; scenes where the characters were out of focus but the wall behind them was crystal clear, misframed shots where the “actors” would have half their heads out of frame….On of my favorites was one where two guys are talking in a room, they walk over to the door, exit through the door and close it behind them; then the shot just holds on the door while they keep talking in the hallway. The fact that CLERKS was not one of these unreleased epics says something about it’s director’s evident talent.

    And I’ve met Smith too, and he was a nice guy. He may have changed, but back then, he was a genuinely good person.

  25. When MIA’s last album came out, critics pointed out the unspoken social contract between an artist and the public- “as long as you keep coming out with good stuff, we’ll deal with all your bullshit. But this album breaks the contract”. That’s the way I feel about Cop Out.

    I used to be a Kevin Smith defender, loved me some Jay and Silent Bob, even appreciated his sappy stuff like Jersey Girl and Zack and Miri, etc.. But Cop-Out is unbelievably bad. This is a movie that’s doing Parkour jokes about 2 years too late and patting itself on the back for it. The “infidelity” subplot is so tedious but only surprising in how obvious it is. And I’ll go on record as saying the shootout at the end is the worst one I’ve ever seen. Seriously, if someone on this board can name a more poorly staged, less exciting shootout, I’ll be happy.

    And the score didn’t work for me either. So what if they got Harold Faltermeyer to do the score? It doesn’t even match the movie, b/c nothing else is in the style of 80s movies. It’d be like if i was making an MMA movie set today or some shit and then asked Bill Conti to approximate his Rocky score over it.

  26. billydeethrilliams

    February 1st, 2011 at 7:04 am

    I could kill Kevin Smith. No problem.

  27. I’ve always been a fan of Kevin Smith movies, bizarrely Mallrats being one of my favourites. I liked the fact he creates his own little world within the real world and yet spoke very funnily and wittily about life and shit. Of course with all that, his use of dialogue being one of his strengths, its also one of his flaws. Everyone in every Kevin Smith flick sounds the fucking same!

    Having seen the man live at the Edinburgh film festival for his “An hour With” shows, he was funny, frank, witty and honest. A flip side to this coin also. When you slag off actors,directors, producers publicly and you work in the biz, sooner or later your going to go to far or come off like a whining little bitch. Much like a lot of the dialogue in his movies. I think this appears to be the case now. Bruce may be hard to work with but you really shouldnt go against a big gun who initially did you a favour. Mr Willis isn’t Hayden Christinsen. Keep that shit to yourself, be a pro and learn a lesson. I will check out this film and look forward to it. It really did go under the rader over here in the UK. The last Smith film I recall was the sequal to Clerks which I enjoyed. Ah well.

  28. Didn’t Bruce Willis show up in the talk backs in AICN calling himself Walter B? Would a real dick movie celebrity “subject themselves” to do that? I mean it’s not like Sly Stallone doing the extensive interviews on AICN, but hey, in my book, showing up in the talkbacks is an anti-dick move. You don’t have to do that. And if you do that, you’ve got a healthy ego (“healthy” as in not too inflated or deflated or fragile).

    Here you go, found it, search for Walter B in this link:


    Oh wait! I didn’t even notice, the article in question is Vern complaining about the PG-13 rating for Die Hard 4, and Bruce, complaining back to Vern, LOL:

    I am pleased to see Vern, and everyone who responded to Vern’s rant
    exhibit such emotion over DH4. But as someone who worked on the picture, and has seen a cut of it, I would suggest that all the yakkin’ over the PG-13 issue hang onto their weapons for now.
    This episode if Die Hard is as good, if not better than the first Movie. And I was there for that one too. In a Summer filled with CG/fantasy driven films, Live Free or Die Hard is an in-your-face, hard-ass Action movie that will satisfy Vern, and anyone else who is a fan of the Die Hard series.
    All PG-13 means is that you cannot say f*ck more than twice. Other than that, the Mythology of Die Hard lives….I could not have been more pleased with how DH4 turned out. It’ll be out soon enough, and I wanna hear what Vern has to say after he sees LForDie Hard….
    Set your pre-judgement aside for another 7 weeks and then decide.

    Yes, that really was Bruce Willis yakkin’ in an AICN talk back under a Vern article, too funny:


    It’s all about ego. Someone with a healthy ego can go into comment forums and freely chat things up, and not take all the crap you see there too seriously. Dish it out and take it. Someone who is a dick, as in cold and aloof, is not going to do that, no way. So Bruce Willis is clearly not as Smith describes him.

    But someone like Smith, he wears his ego on his sleeve, and is apparently getting crushed, because the problem with comment forums is once you let the trolls get to you, its like blood in the water, the piranhas aren’t going to stop until you are bone.

    So my prediction is: Smith, for his recent glass ego actions, is going to get eviscerated, simply eviscerated. It’s just starting. He’s not out in M. Night Shyamalan territory yet of pure betrayal, but I guess when Smith directs “The Last Airbender 2”, we’ll know he has arrived.

  29. Smith is like a mini George Lucas. Clerks was like his Star Wars. Everything else he has directed since has been turd.

    I mean no offence to Lucas in that comment. I don’t think he is the douche bag everyone else does.

    His first film was pretty funny. Everything else has just been about the same ever since.

  30. BR Baraka- I also remember reading a story some six years back about how he was talking with his fans on his website’s forum. I remember his statement included something like “I have engaged in a dialogue with Baby Schnooks and Brucie’s Little Mommy”, which made me laugh.

    I know Bruce has a slightly difficult reputation. One actor – who I wont name, so lets just say he’s most famous for playing Fraiser’s dad and has the same surname as Steve Guttenberg’s character in the POLICE ACADEMY movies- was really upset that Bruce recorded all the dialogue in their big conversation scene quicky on his own, pissed off and left him to record the actual scene with his stunt double. I can see how he would gradually build up a list of casual enemies with that kind of behaviour. But maybe I’m naive, but it’s things like the above and the general tone I hear from fans who have met him that leads me to believe he’s not a total a-hole.

    I also want to know more about this BWT thing.

  31. Ace, I cannot condone in the slightest. Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, etc are not turds at all. I miss being in college in the second half of the 90s.

  32. Wait a minute, what exactly is wrong with that Lethal Panther II’s shootout? It’s kind of fun and not really embarrassing at all.

  33. good God, where do I even begin?

    first off let me say that I’m pretty ambivalent towards Smith, I don’t hate him or anything, he seems like a nice guy, but I’ve only seen like two of his movies, both of which I only thought were ok

    anyway I think Smith’s biggest strength is also his albatross, the fact that he really is a true blue nerd like all of us and I think he’s buying into all the bullshit on the internet too much

    which the internet, let’s not kid ourselves here, is mostly bullshit, particularly in this case what I like to call “internet movie nerds” or “internet movie nerd culture”

    ya know what I’m talking about, think Aint It Cool, think 4chan’s /tv/ board, think most of imdb

    the problem with all these nerds is that they’re waaaaaaaaaay too fucking cynical, they don’t seem to get any real enjoyment from movies anymore, they hate almost everything, where they really get their jollies is making fun and talking shit about movies on these sites instead of movies themselves

    as the years have gone by, I’ve distanced myself more and more from all that, I only rarely hop by AICN these days for example

    and what made me a fan of Vern was that he was like a shining beacon in the middle of all this, he’s not afraid to like a movie that the general nerd consensus is negative (like Indy 4) or is he afraid to say a movie that’s making gangbusters in theaters is crap (like Transformers)

    so that’s what I think is going on with Smith, I think he has pretty much the same attitude as the talkbackers on AICN (who ironically, mostly hate his guts)

  34. also the catalyst for me when I realized that most internet movie nerds were full of shit was Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and the whole “raping my childhood” nonsense

    you don’t fuck with the master boys and girls

  35. actually Avatar was a second catalyst and how nerds went from nigh worshiping James Cameron to “he’s a pretentious douche and he was always overrated!” bullshit

  36. I think I stopped reading AICN talkbacks during the run up to Inglorious Basterds, when the ridiculous QT hate was in full swing. There’s only so many times I can read the same tired arguments. I was over there the other day for the first time in months and was surprised to find everybody hates Judd Apatow now – when the hell did that happen? It’s always strange to me when I can specifically remember a movie being loved by everyone when it was released (like Superbad or knocked up), only to find a couple of years later everybody hates it and claims they always did.

    The James Cameron thing was definitely a good example, for a while there everyone in the talkbacks had come to the conclusion that T2 was an awful movie. I felt like I was living in a fucking twilight zone episode.

  37. I’ll add to my comment above by throwing in with the Kevin Smith fans–I think he’s made a lot of very good films, and even the worst ones are the product of a unique and distinctive artist’s voice. If he were a novelist, he’d be getting showered with praise in the New York Times Review Of Books even when he didn’t deserve it.

    I honestly think Chasing Amy was one of the best films of 1997 (and that was the year of miracles that also gave us Titanic, Boogie Nights, Face Off, Good Will Hunting, The Ice Storm, Jackie Brown, Kundun, LA Confidential, and The Sweet Hereafter) and Clerks one of the best films of the early 90s indie films. He’s done some fine work as a producer, most notably Vincent Pereria’s amazing indie horror drama A BETTER PLACE, and MALLRATS and DOGMA and JERSEY GIRL are all good films–not great, but no worse then a lot of the 80s teensploitation films that are venerated now. (in most cases they’re a helluva lot better.) Even the ones I don’t like that much, like JAY AND BOB STRIKE BACK and ZACK AND MIRI, have their good qualities. I haven’t seen COP OUT and I look foward eagerly to RED STATE.

    I get the feeling that much of the vehemance Smith has attracted over the years (some of which can be seen in these very comments) comes simply from that fact that he, like Lucas, is so visible to the fanboy audience and is thus simply an easy target. (Griff makes a good point that something similar happened to James Cameron as well.) I’m sure if Gillian Armstrong or Ken Loach were on their radar in the same way you’d get similar sorts of nasty, inferiority-complex “I’m a verbal bully so the big tough kids will laugh and not pick on me too”-kind of comments about how they made one good movie and everything else sucked, ect ect.

  38. Mode7: Negativity is easy. It’s a character weakness to engage in it. Throw in anonymity, in comment forums, and mindless negativity rules. It’s the easy way out, the lowest common denominator. It’s just background noise for you to squelch and ignore.

    The point is to never take it seriously. The problem is, Kevin Smith is obviously beginning to take it seriously. Big mistake.

    I’ve never in my life been in a position where so much negativity is thrown my way, so I’ll give Smith the benefit of the doubt and say it could be hard not to bite. But regardless of how hard it is to not bite, you still just cannot do that. You just can’t react to it. Ever.

    Because once you do, you’ve validated the negativity. You’re caught in a feedback loop. It only increases now, because now you’ve signaled that the mindless negativity has real probative value. Otherwise, there would be nothing to respond to. When you react to negativity, you empower it.

    And this is the trap Smith is now getting into. It’s a one way trip. It only increases now, until he is forgotten and thrown in the slag heap. Smith is now doomed, because he reacted to it and now it will never let up. Smith is on his way to Shyamalan land in terms of becoming persona non grata in the world of geek fandom.

  39. Excellent read, that, Vern- thanks!

  40. So much to like in this review–which also seems to be a “Tells It Like It Is” entry.

    But am I the only one who would watch the hell out of a movie where some selection of Marvel Mutants are given Green Lantern power rings in order to invade the Negative Zone on a rescue mission??!

  41. CJ – thanks for the link, but I gotta side with Sternshein – I’d be SO happy if Copout had an action scene half as good as that one. Some of the camera work in that scene is actually borderline-great and there’s some cool shots I’ve never seen before. The end of Copout looks like shit I filmed with friends with my camcorder in middle school. I wonder how Bruce felt shooting that scene, like “I went from surfing a Harrier Jet to this bullshit”

    And yes, I’m a little afraid Kevin Smith is going to show up here and talk shit to me.

  42. Great piece Vern. Inspiring stuff. Keep up the good work.

  43. I think Kevin Smith’s devolution into curmedgerry (if that’s a word) is a cautionary tale. I think a lot of people liked him because he was this sort of trickster who managed to find his way into the studio system and the studios didn’t really know what to do with him, and yet somehow he managed to keep on making movies. He he did what he wanted and didn’t seem to take himself too seriously. If you ever hear him speak about the movie making business, he usually positions himself as the straight man in a world full of crazies.

    His recent bout with cynicism has probably been brought about by too much internet. The guy needs to get off the message boards and start reading up on film craft (it would be nice if his films looked better than a tv sitcom). The lesson I take from Smith’s break with reality is that sometimes whenever someone writes something idiotic on the internet, instead of responding maybe I should just close the browser and go for a walk.

  44. When I said up there that Kassovitz was the better director , that was my opinion , and I still think that his movie compared to Smith’s offering is the better one , even if the following movies are a not as good . I also said that Smith is average , but at least he knows how to shoot a scene and keep that damn camera steady. I was curious to see something different from him , not only comedy , because maybe he can direct action better than many action directors working today , or horror , or drama and suspence . Enough with the dick jokes already! Well , my wish was granted with that Red State trailer , and what do you know ? It’s the most shaky , quick-cut thing that I’ve seen from him. Granted , I’ve skipped a lot of his movies recently,including this action oriented one , and that’s just the trailer , I will wait for the full movie to pass judgement . But things are not looking good.

  45. Sabreman: It would be so awesome if they actually made a movie version of Super X-Squad Rescue Force: Negative Zone Green Power Wars and Swords!

    But only the original SX-SRF:NZGPW&S. SX-SRF:NZGPW&S-Redemption was absolute shit.

    I wish I had a real comment for this thread, it’s a fascinating analysis of this weird and sad phenomenon of fanboy sacrificial cannibalism. Kevin Smith is finding out the hard way that the internets is srs bizns.

  46. For all his faults (and they are legion), Smith has brought me many, many hours of entertainment over the years, from his movies to his various supplemental features to his comic books. For that, I’ll stand by him through this little midlife crisis of his. And though the herd will turn on him, I’m betting I won’t be alone when the dust clears. Nerds have short memories. Fans don’t.

  47. BR – heh, I remember the “Walter B” thing. I, like Griff, rarely visit the AICN talkbacks any more, although I still enjoy some of the articles.

    Brendan and Mode 7 – guess that’s the best answer I’m going to get, although it still seems like a uniquely American thing to me. And come to think of it, I think my gossip column analogy is probably the best one. Another example that occurs to me is Diana Spencer, who went from being almost universally vilified to practically canonized into sainthood when she died. The odd thing is that I think a lot of the “nerds” who feed this stuff would look down on anybody (mostly women) who got involved with the whole Princess Di thing. Dunno what that says about human nature, beyond perhaps the fact that people can demonstrate a total lack of self-awareness and empathy regardless of where they come from.

    I guess the point that confuses me the most is why Kevin Smith, of all people, gets this kind of treatment. I mean, my opinion of his films is probably higher than most on this site, but I’ll freely admit he ain’t the next Hitchcock or Wells. Which makes it all the more baffling to me that he’s the centre of this kind of shitstorm when others like – for example – Spielberg, Kubrick and Wayne – have largely avoided it, even when they’ve had moments where one could say they “deserved” it.

  48. I love Kevin Smith movies from Clerks to Clerks 2 but I haven’t seen anything he did without Jay and Silent Bob and I don’t care. Also like his comic books even the latest Batman he did that everybody hates.

  49. HEY KIDS, IT’S KEVIN SMITH! (applause).

  50. The Sophisticated Panda

    February 1st, 2011 at 11:10 pm

    Something about the fact that Kevin Smith’s new distribution model is kicking off with “Red State” bothers me. I don’t believe in pre-censoring or restricting ideas in films, books, tv, etc., but I do feel a little uncomfortable about Smith using his hype machine to pretty much encourage the Westboro Baptist Church to protest his screenings.

    I realize there’s a catch 22 when it comes shining a light on people like Phelps versus giving them publicity, but I feel like he picked a really easy target that already receives heaps of scorn by the media. Pretty much anywhere Phelps and his half dozen goons show up is guaranteed to get local media coverage. To piggyback on that kind of press with movie screenings is a little . . . well, I think it’s tasteless- but not in a fun way like the donkey-has-sex-with-a-belly-dancer “Bachelor Party” scene that Smith loves so much.

    Am I overreacting?

    PS: On a side note, this is the first comment that I’ve ever left on your site, Vern. I was introduced to your essays about a year and a half ago when I had just given two weeks notice at my job. I handled “sensitive” files and the big boss didn’t want me to have any access to them during my last two weeks, so I had nothing to do. To look busy, I printed out your back catalog of reviews and made it seem like I was studying some really important documents. Nothing like hearing someone in my scary top secret office say “Who left an ‘Orca’ review on the printer?!?”

  51. That’s a good point, Sophisticated Panda. Obviously Smith disagrees with Phelps, but obviously making a movie only brings them more attention, including to people who never heard about them before. It’s not like a low budget horror movie is going to influence anybody that’s about to join his church. Memorializing them in a movie only keeps them around in our lives longer.

  52. Majestyk – fans vs nerds, good comparison. Although kinda depressing that these kinds of labels are “needed”.

    Vern – I think Panda had it right when he said it’s a “catch 22”. Germany’s always had the problem of racist neo-Nazis and hate propaganda. It’s been dealt with in various ways, all with their own drawbacks:

    – Make fun of them to trivialise them – for example comic sketches where the Nazis get their arms caught in elevator doors when they salute (you guys should look and see if that one’s on YouTube by the way, that shit’s hilarious) – can end up seriously backfiring. If they do gain legitimacy to a subset of people, those people will only see one side of the story because there’s no serious opposition.

    – Take them seriously, you end up legitimizing them and possibly demonizing them. Again, possibly acting to spur recruitment and, as you put it, “keeping them around in our lives longer”.

    – Refuse to acknowledge their existence, and you also discourage potentially influential people within society who might otherwise resist their influence. Again, the drawbacks are pretty obvious.

    I guess the point is, unfortunately, that human nature being what it is, there will always be extremists who will demonize gays, blacks, Jews, any other minority (or even less vocal majority) and the only way you can fight them in the long-term is by giving people a better alternative.

  53. HEY KIDS, IT’S VERN! (applause).

    ok, I’ll stop with that joke now

  54. Okay, since there’s some RED STATE talk here, I’ve started a fun game on my blog called RED STATE PREDICTIONS:


    Please everyone join in, here or on my blog, and we’ll see how accurate we are. I think the prediction I am most confidant in is:

    “…some other “controversy” surrounding the film or Smith’s personal life will pop up around the time of the film’s official release. Maybe a cast member will become infamous after impregnating one of the Obama daughters, or maybe a Taco Bell employee will refuse to sell Smith a Cheesy Gordita Crunch because it’s no longer technically on the menu. Whatever the issue, Smith won’t necessarily start the controversy, but he will sound off on it loudly and frequently.”

  55. to promote Red State, Kevin Smith will mud wrestle a bunch of women and pull their tops off while Rubberband Man plays in the background like John Candy in Stripes

  56. Smith refuses to do any pre-fight interviews, and instead hurls pro-wrestling-style insults at the women via Twitter in the weeks preceding the match.

  57. Everyone I saw this with hated it except me, although it’s definitely flawed. To me, the flick felt like a good first draft to a potentially great movie. Sure, it peters out at the end and the action is lackluster but Bruce and Tracey really made a good team. If anything the interrogation scene is worth the price of admission alone.

  58. the sight of all those naked breasts will then cause Smith to have a heart attack and die like Blue in Old School

    Will Ferrell will sing “dust in the wind” at his funeral

  59. however, the whole death thing will turn out just to be a joke, everyone will go “oh that Kevin, always a prankster”

    to celebrate fooling everybody, Smith will then grab a ladder and spy on a group of half naked sorority sisters having a pillow fight

  60. Smith then goes on to become a U.S. Senator.

  61. Smith then helps humanity win the war against Skynet and the terminators

  62. Smith then realizes that he is the cause of all this because he is the singularity

    he then allows to jet engine to crash on him

  63. Smith records a hilarious, three hour monologue about his was against Skynet, which is released on DVD as A POST-APOCALYPTIC EVENING WITH KEVIN SMITH.

  64. Dan, I’ve managed to send this message back in time to warn you of a grave future. Skynet has taken over the world, and deadly robots known as Terminators stalk the barren landscape, picking off survivors. This horrendous future is set in motion by a post you will write on Outlawvern.com, which sets off a chain of events that lead to robo-Armageddon. In this post, you will accidentally write the word “was” instead of the word “war.”

    Please take every precaution to ensure that this mistake does not occur. I only hope that I have calibrated my Time Browser correctly and that this post arrives before 11:19am PST.

  65. Dans of the present and/or future! Check your email!

  66. I have. And I’m interested. But I need to scour your list a little more because there may be one or two other things I’m interested in.

  67. Excellent. Take your time.

    Of course, future you already knows what movies you’re going to order. It would save a lot of time if he would just tell you.

  68. At the end of it all, Kevin Smith will teach us that love truly is the fifth element

  69. I’d like to share a revelation that I’ve had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species.

  70. I always was kind surprised that McClane was divorced though, dick or not. I was of the opinion that after saving her life and thwarting a massive robbery and then saving everyone at the airport and on all those other planes then maybe Holly would feel obliged to stay with him regardless. Unless she wasn’t really aware of what happened in Die Hard 2 as she was on an aircraft. You also pretty much nailed the shit out of this one Vern.

  71. I thoroughly enjoyed both DISNEY’S THE KID and THE WHOLE NINE YARDS.

  72. Yeah THE WHOLE NINE YARDS isn’t too shabby as I recall, probably a one time deal though. THE WHOLE TEN YARDS *is* awful. To give you an idea the funniest part is when Kevin Pollak’s character pronounces “soap opera” as “soup opera”. Seriously, that’s the funniest part. And I laughed hard. What, after 90 minutes of sitting through THE WHOLE TEN YARDS it would seem funny to you too

  73. the only thing I know about THE WHOLE NINE YARDS is Amanda Peet’s awesome nude scene that I downloaded from a certain site for certain purposes (I’m sure you can guess har har har)

  74. When I saw this movie I found it more entertaining to write the word “dicks” on my hand over and over again than to look at the screen (joke here about the act being my recreation of the Kevin Smith scriptwriting process HO HO).

    Then I made a video recreation/”review” for youtube.

    So I guess I wasn’t a fan.

    Bruce seemed bored, the jokes were flat, the soundtrack was literal and obvious and–


    All the standard issues things people trot out I guess. I was bored.

  75. Oh I did wonder if Tracy Morgan shooting a dozen people while Willis does little in the finale was supposed to be some sort of joking subversion of audience expectation or something.

    I watched one of Smith’s spoken-word deals just to hear the bits about Space Harrier: Die Hard Edition, then didn’t turn it off when he had passed beyond. He’s a really engaging speaker! Though it would be nice if he cut down on the aggressive I AM A FAT REPULSIVE SLOB comments and the phrase “and shit” (and shit).

  76. Dear Present Paul:


    Yours, Future Paul.

  77. BWT story in short: When Smith got on the set of Die Hard, he asked when they’d start and a grip told him they were on BWT. Smith figured out it’s Bruce Willis Time. Bruce strolls in like a party, looks at the pages, or maybe does a scene with Smith and says, “No, no, no, this is all wrong. Why is McClane letting this guy talk down to him.” Or whatever the problem was. He wanted the scene rewritten.

    Got on the phone with the studio, and all Smith heard was, from Bruce, “Uh huh. Uh huh. Let me ask you. Who’s your second choice to play John McClane?” The scene was rewritten and shot the next day. But it was an example of Bruce protecting the film and the franchise, probably the only one where he’d have THAT much clout. I mean, he probably couldn’t pull that line on Surrogates, but they CAN’T replace him on Die Hard.

    So it was a positive story, that things take longer with Bruce but it’s for the best.

  78. BR, thank you, THANK YOU, for articulating the negativity trap. I tell you, I feel so lonely in this world of online reporters sometimes, being the one who actually likes to celebrate movies and movie stars.

    The action in Cop Out: Smith called in David Ellis, legendary 2nd unit director of Matrix Reloaded (freeway scene) and all. I agree, it still doesn’t work. Ellis is great, I get what they were trying with the cemetery chase, but it’s dead. So I took Cop Out as a comedy about the genre without the good action it was meant to have.

  79. That’s a great story. Kudos to Bruce for putting Rothman in his place.

  80. Apart from the atrocity known as the “MAD Cartoon” (I’ve seen 3 minutes of it – it should be delegalized by a new Geneva convention), “Cop Out” is the only “film” in recent time that is actually antifunny. It actually sucks good humor out of you. I’ve just turned off and deleted the Xvid of it about 20 minutes in. The opening alone was the most moronic and revolting thing I’ve seen in months. “Apocalyptically unfunny” sums it up well: http://www.justpressplay.net/reviews/6802-cop-out.html

    I’ve never seen any movie by that morbidly fat individual Smith so far, and now I’m even happier to know that I haven’t, and that I haven’t let “Cop Out” interrupt the streak.

    Were you tortured by someone playing “Cop Out” and not letting you turn it off? Cure it with a dose of “The Other Guys”.

  81. Its like you read my mind! You appear to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you can do with a few pics to drive the message home a bit, but other than that, this is great blog. An excellent read. I will definitely be back.

  82. After HUDSON HAWK, I had to rewatch this one again and I still like it. I’m not saying it’s a “It was too far out for audiences back then” kind of affair. In fact, even with all my goodwill it’s still a mostly forgettable, of interracial buddy cop cinema, but from its worldbuilding (As I mentioned in my comment 10 years ago, it’s pretty much written as a part 3 of a movie series, yet you instantly feel the history between all characters, despite having nver seen the first two movies) and the quite unpredictable-ish plot, to every scene with Seann William Scott (He is WAY funnier in that movie than I remembered, and I already remembered him being the funniest part in that movie!), its reputation is unjustified.

  83. Franchise Fred

    May 30th, 2021 at 4:37 pm

    I haven’t seen it since it came out but I too remember it being a perfectly fine generic Buddy cop movie. And given Willis’s attitude on set it’s remarkable he comes off his old engaged smartass self rather than modern day DTV Bruce.

  84. Ugh! COP OUT for me was Baaaaaad! About the only thing it managed was having me sympathize with Kevin Smith, who joined the august company of film-makers who had to endure Bruce Willis’ jerk-like attitude on set.

    Apart from Stiffler, who stole the show as usual, Willis looks bored (which by now is his standard factory setting), the usually funny Tracy Morgan spends the movie moping about his suspicion that his girlfriend is cheating on him and…well that’s all I remember about this eminently forgettable flick, except maybe William Scott taking a dump in the house he was robbing, maybe???

  85. I have to disagree with you on your main complaints. Willis doesn’t look bored here. In fact, he is in pretty good form here, which is, as Fred noted, a miracle, if you consider that he acted during the shoot like he wasn’t supposed to be here today. While the cheating wife subplot is unnecessary (although I accept it as something that we would probably care about if this really would be part 3 in a series), it really takes up only a small amount of screentime.

    Still, as far as Kevin Smith flicks that were hated by pretty much everybody go, this is his weakest. It’s still far from being as awful as it was made out to be, but not as good as it could be.

    Also apologies for all the mistakes in my previous post.

    Personal ranking of widely, but unfairly hated Smith movies:

    1) Jersey Girl
    2) Tusk
    3) Yoga Hosers
    4) Red State
    5) Cop Out

  86. I thought Yoga Hosers is UNWATCHABLE, but I did like Tusk a lot. It’s undercooked…I think they needed more stages of body horror. He goes from missing a leg to being a walrus. There needed to be a few more, maybe one where he wakes up and the tusks are implanted. Basically Michael Parks is the MVP of the flick…he is AMAZING as that character. He holds it all together. And I didn’t mind Depp, although they may have cut him back a bit (especailly the neverending scene with him and Parks).

  87. And y’all know what? I’m going to stick up for Willis a bit. I bet he’s an asshole and he DEFINITELY doesn’t give a shit about most things he works on. But…

    The story Smith told was that he was talking Willis through a scene and Willis asked what lens was going to be on the camera, so he could adjust his performance. Totally normal question. Smoth says he didn’t have any idea. And Willis lost it.

    And you know what? Willis is RIGHT. Smith, this lazy motherfucker, is shooting a big Hollywood movie and he can’t be bothered to give a wet fart about what the shot is? How many movies had he made by then? He wasn’t an amateur but he still wanted to act like one. I like Smith and his personaility and stories, but man is that guy hackish.

  88. That’s my impression too, that Willis must be normal when he respects the director but Smith gave him too many reasons to switch to “this is gonna be a piece of shit so I’ll just punch my time card and hide in the trailer” mode. Which I don’t excuse at all, that’s called being an asshole, you should be nice to everybody you work with in my opinion. But Smith (who I have grown to really like, honestly) does not come out as well in that story as he thinks he does.

  89. I as said above, it’s not surprising that Bruce and Smith clashed. They have opposite filmmaking philosophies. Bruce isn’t here to make friends; he’s here to make a movie. Meanwhile Smith mostly sees making movies as a way to hang out with his friends. Such as Dave Klein, the DP he’s worked with since before CLERKS and whom he no doubt trusted implicitly to pick the right lens for the scene. And you know what? That’s fine. Smith’s main job as a director is a facilitator of tone, not a chooser of lenses, and he does that by keeping the atmosphere on-set fun and light. You don’t hire Smith for his technical mastery, you hire him because he sets his cast at ease and lets them feel free to be goofy. The main problem with COP OUT is that its star is so fucking standoffish and uptight. He sucks the energy out of every scene he’s in and doesn’t mesh with the rest of the cast at all. Maybe if he’d lightened the fuck up for a second, the movie could have been salvaged. Instead, he used the nebulous concept of “professionalism” as an excuse to not be professional. And it sunk the movie.

    What I’m saying is, there’s more than one way to make a movie. I mean, I’m sure Michael Bay could tell you each and every lens used in each and every shot he’s ever filmed, and Bruce didn’t get along with him any better. You know what they say: When you meet one asshole, you just met an asshole, but when everyone you meet is an asshole…

  90. Clearly Smith must not have thought Willis was always an asshole considering they met on Die Hard 4 and he liked him enough to work with him. Frankly I bet it wasn’t just that Smith didn’t know, I bet it was clear that he also didn’t care. Man I’ve worked on crap like that before and it sucks…and remember Willis is the guy headlining this thing, if it flops no one is gonna ding Smith. Do I think he should be mean? No. But sometimes things add up, I bet that wasn’t the first time.

    Now I can’t give an opinion on the actual movie and performances cause watching something like that seems pretty fruitless.

    Also…if we want to get into Bay, Willis ain’t the only guy to talk shit about him. And I bet there’s a lot of shit to talk. They’re probably both raging assholes.

  91. I feel a certain degree of affection for Smith, and appreciate that whatever else you can say about him, he has a distinct artistic voice which always finds its way into his films. I was hoping after the weird but arguably ambitious RED STATE and TUSK, he was entering a new career phase where he was trying to do something kind of different. After seeing YOGA HOSERS, however, I can definitively say that the guy isn’t interested in making films anymore, just obviously doesn’t care even a little bit, and it’s probably just as well he’s settled into being a podcaster/spoken-word artist. If he was bringing that kind of energy to COP OUT, one can at least understand why Bruce would check out too — although I think it’s perhaps telling that the rest of the cast didn’t follow his example. If you’re the only actor who gives up and checks out, even if you feel like the director isn’t giving it 100%… I still think you’re kinda an asshole. Even if Smith wasn’t working as hard as Bruce felt like he should, there were still a lot of people on that setting busting their asses to make a good movie, and ultimately you’re letting them down, too.

  92. Franchise Fred

    May 31st, 2021 at 5:20 pm

    I would bet the lens question wasn’t the first time something like that happened, just like the Christian Bale rant probably wasn’t the first time he had to put up with something unprofessional on the Terminator Salvation set. I think we also see certain directors can get a lot out of Willis: Johnson, Anderson, Shyamalan, Tarantino and Rodriguez. Often that means not wasting his time.

    Now, for the money Willis makes he should be able to turn on the charm at least for the take and be professional on set. And it is a shame that since 2012 or so he hasn’t even sought out those directors who can meet his demands (perhaps Glass is an exception).

    I love the films of both Kevin Smith and Bruce Willis and would like to see both succeed. It’s a shame they perhaps weren’t vetted before being paired together.

  93. 2012 does seem to be the year Willis just said fuck it, what can I get paid the most on where I work the least number of days.

    I agree Bruce should still try to salvage things, so can’t defend him there. But I would say Subtlety that..considering the rest of the Cop Out cast, is there really anyone else there who actually is even close to Willis? It’s not like The Rock was co-starring and said Smith was great and well-prepared, the biggest name is Tracy Morgan and he’s not really A-list.

    I’d been watching The Sopranos again and was reading the oral history of it, and someone told a story Galdofini told him. He said for one take of a scene he blew it…on purpose. Said afterward he wanted to see if the director could tell. I think we know what the underlying intention of that is…how much do you respect this guy, and is he going to be coming back?

  94. I think RED 2 is quite entertaining. But after that I don’t think I’ve seen anything with him worth mentioning.

  95. Some of his DTV\Limited Release\On Demand fare, like MARAUDERS, passes the time agreeably but gets forgotten quickly, and he generally contributes little of note. I hear his most recent stuff is borderline late-period Seagal level though.

    I remember COP OUT, which I enjoyed, was released on DVD in the UK with a sticker on the box that said “For Die Hard fans” . I’m not sure they thought that marketing strategy through.

  96. Just checked on eBay; it said “For Die Hard fans only” even!

  97. I always thought they should make a bunch of shitty SIN CITY DTV prequels, where they don’t even bother making them in black and white and sometimes it’s just another movie they cheaply affixed the SIN CITY branding to. Bruce could be in some of those. TBH I’d rather see Arnold Vosloo or whoever in my SIN CITY movie than like Eminem and Piece Brosnan or whoever the fuck was in SIN CITY: DAME JUDY DENCH.

    Also they should make SIN CITY MEETS ROBOCOP, that would be stupid.

    The world is one big spinning ass small world, so hopefully the Bruce portion of the shit rotates right so that Walter B will find himself in the Ron Pearlman role in the next MONSTER HUNTER type of movie and we’ll find him reunited alongside his hilarious costar Milla from that movie SPACE MOONLIGHTING, without fool ass Besson getting in the way of a more serviceable approach to genre stars.

    (I’ve always loved THE FIFTH ELEMENT but now I find the direction almost obnoxiously showy – in the way a lot of other people understandably feel about showy writing. I feel like that’s a movie where everything is “mega” – mega-art direction, mega-comedy, etc – but the direction only THINKS it is “mega”, and is misinterpreted as being good filmmaking. It is also a showiness that is only balanced by Bruce’s stoicism. Can you imagine if Bruce Campbell had played Corben Dallas? I like him, but that would have been insufferable.)

    Anyway also I would like Daniel Waters to write the W.S./Milla/Bruce movie, thank you world. (Did anybody see THE ROOKIES yet? I tried to watch it because I read the jokes were weird, but couldn’t really stand more than a few minutes, so I can’t offer anything resembling an accurate opinion.)

    In general, I truly feel like it’s kinda impossible to speak about any artist’s career with over-arcing certainty at this point, because part of me hopes that the lessening of the pandemic will bring about an improved world in which everybody starts making super ambitious, wacky, personal, mindful, weird, modest and freaky art. Somehow, I don’t think Bruce is going to rush right into a life of only seeking out DTV squinting and check cashing opportunities, considering that he has been denied the Fun Time that we all have. He might fund a vacation or house with a piece of DTV trash or two, but somehow I think we’re going to see a lot of good work from people in the near future, particularly those that work in mostly-collaborative arts like film.

    Also the Die Hard series in Russia is called alternately “TOUGH NUT”, “A TOUGH NUT TO CRACK” or “TOUGHIE”, depending on your translation. I do not speak Russian myself, but I know a Russian woman that saw TOUGH NUT 4.0 in the theater over there, a friend of mine since my teenage years who was born there that is a big McClane fan. Those titles are fun to utilize for the purposes of comedic riffing, e.g. “For A TOUGH NUT TO CRACK fans only!”, or instead of WITH A VENGANCE calling it TOUGHIE 3.0, etc.

  98. Also the King of Being Off-Topic rambles again, but has anyone ever notice how much Kevin Smith is similar to Robert Smith, the singin’ guy from The Cure? Hockey jerseys, obsessive (and oftentimes, visually-identifiable) fans in the 90s, one guy is always talking about flicks and cats and one guy sang about flickers and The Love Cats, etc. Also there was that awesome period when Robert Smith was always hanging out with, like, Blink 182 and Ross Robinson and shit and, like, the JAY AND SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK soundtrack kinda has that quality, maybe like when he hands out with Gerard Way at SDCC or some shit. I am a major Cure fan and not a Kevin Smith fan at all, but despite that I’ve always thought It would be funny and cool if they started a band called The Smiths, just to piss off Morrissey.

    Tim Pope rules, by the way, a way better filmmaker than Kevin Smith.

  99. My favorite Robert Smith/Morrissey story is the time Smith came up to Morrissey and chucked him on the arm to say hi and Morrissey burst into tears.

    If that is apocryphal, please no one correct me. I don’t even hate Morrissey but that story is just too perfect.

  100. It’s still weird to me that 2 SIN 2 CITY flopped to the extent that it did, despite being pretty much the same stuff again, but not so much the same stuff that it was just a retread. To paraphrase Depeche Mode I know 9 years is a long time, but I’m surprised we went from a million middle class bro fist bumps of “BEST MOVIE EVER!!!” to “eh, I’ll pass”. Maybe everyone just silently agreed that the first one wasn’t all that, and graciously agreed that we didn’t need an official backlash in public (unless I missed it).

  101. Nine years was just enough time for the popular opinion to change from “Isn’t it amazing what they can do with computers these days?” to “Ugh, everything is just CGI nowadays.” What was impressive and even avant garde in 2005 just felt kinda cheap in 2014.

  102. “What was impressive and even avant garde in 2005 just felt kinda cheap in 2014.”

    In that regard I feel bad for SKY CAPTAIN & THE WORLD OF TOMORROW, which admittedly could never live up to the hype it got from the nerdblogosphere, but within short time it went from “Oh wow, that’s actually pretty cool and unique.” to “How the hell did they get those A-listers to participate in a no budget YouTube video?”

  103. I remember the hype for Sky Captain back then and I’ll tell ya…it looked kind of interesting in a way, but I thought it looked super cheap. Done practically as much as possible, maybe. Fifth Element still holds up visually. Never saw Sky Captain.

    As for Willis, just read an oral history about Q and Larry Cohen had this to say about Willis which I thought tied in nicely.

    Cohen: Bruce Willis came up for auditions for I, The Jury when he was working as a bartender, and I had him read the Mike Hammer part, just for fun. Armand Assante had already been cast, but I said, “Just for fun, read this part. Let me hear you do it.” He read it, and he did a terrific job. I said, “You’re gonna be a star! I can’t give you the part of Mike Hammer, ’cause it’s already cast, but I know you’re gonna make it.” So he went off, and then when I started to make Q, I thought, “Hey, maybe I should hire that young actor.” But the people with the money said, “We need a box-office name, somebody who can sell tickets and get us some money in pre-sales from foreign markets.” And David Carradine certainly fit the bill, so I pitched David Carradine and didn’t take Bruce Willis. So there you are.

    And like I said, I was very much in love with Moriarty’s work, but just before we started, I saw another actor at the Improv comedy club in New York, a young black comedian, and I said, “Oh, geez, this guy would’ve been really great in the part I just gave to Moriarty. But I can’t hire him!” So I didn’t hire him, and you know who he was? Eddie Murphy. So we came within a hairsbreadth of having Bruce Willis and Eddie Murphy in Q. I’m sure it’d be a bigger picture today if they’d been in it. There’s no question about it. But that’s the way it is.

    By the way, years later, at the Golden Globes in Hollywood, Bruce Willis came over to me and tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Do you remember me?” And I didn’t remember him. I didn’t know who he was. I didn’t see that TV series, Moonlighting. He said, “Boy, you gave me more encouragement than anybody in New York ever did, and I wanted to say thank you.” And I said, “Well, you’re sure welcome. Everything going all right?” And he said, “Sure is!” And after he left, somebody said, “Don’t you know who that is? He’s got this hot TV series called Moonlighting.” There you are. But unfortunately, years later, I ran into him again, and I said to him, “Remember when you came over to me and thanked me for being so encouraging to you?” And he looked at me and said, “Yeah, I remember.” And he walked away. I wish I’d never run into him the second time. It ruined the whole story! [Laughs.] But there you go. That’s Hollywood.

  104. Thank you, that’s a great story.

  105. Given that some of the conversation has veered towards Kevin Smith and his later films, I note the conspicuous absence of any mention of his latest JAY AND SILENT BOB movie. Has nobody seen it or is everyone trying their best to forget it’s existence? Am asking out of genuine curiosity, by the way. I haven’t seen it. As someone who loved almost all of Smith’s View Askew-verse films years ago, I’m just afraid revisiting the characters may confirm they’ve passed their use-by date.

  106. Man, I wish Larry Cohen was still around. I know he hasn’t been gone long, but imagine if he were still active as an elder statesman high-concept thriller writer after Cellular and Phone Booth. Would he have a riff on remake culture? Superhero movies? The Conjuringverse? Maybe just a big-budget remake of Q: The Winged Serpent? And then a sequel where Q fights Godzilla and/or King Kong?

    Good God, imagine what the Cohenster could’ve done with Army of the Dead’s premise!

  107. I’ve seen REBOOT and liked it a lot. Some callbacks feel a bit forced and the emotional component (Yeah, he lets Jay & Bob grow up at least a little bit) doesn’t work as good as in CLERKS 2, also your enjoyment might depend on how much you liked STRIKES BACK, which was the most silly and cartoony entry into the View Askewniverse*, but if you are into “normal” Kevin Smith, you should check it out.

    *I said it before, but the way Smith somehow finds a way to make each movie different, despite stuffing it with the same personal fetishes and even characters, is something that most of the time gets overlooked, both by his fans and haters.

  108. Franchise Fred

    June 2nd, 2021 at 9:38 pm

    KayKay I saw it and loved it. It is a noticeably lower budget affair (even compared to his ‘90s indies) but the notion of a low budget Jay and Bob reboot works for it. It was nice to see Smith riffing on movies again and he’s collected some fun cameo players in the last 20 years.

  109. CJ, Fred, thanks for the feedback. Am glad Smith didn’t PROMETHEUS/COVENANT his own universe. Yeah, I do rank the 1st Jay and Bob movie a little lower than the others (the 1st CLERKS and CHASING AMY remain my absolute favs) but I enjoyed it nevertheless. I didn’t mind RED STATE but it wasn’t such a revelation for me to follow Smith in his new avatar as a horror auteur and I skipped TUSK and YOGA HOSERS. With a MALLRATS sequel in pre-prod and CLERKS III announced, Smith seems poised to go back to the movies that made his name.

    And I still retain a soft spot for that OTHER Kevin Smith movie that’s all but disappeared from any conversation about him: ZACK AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO

  110. Pacman, I liked SIN CITY 2, but even leaving aside the fact it arrived way too late and way after any interest in it’s high concept had faded (see also: 300 DAWN OF EVA GREEN and MACHETE KILLS), something about it felt off, like Rourke’s Marv make-up. Marv was a great character, but shoe-horning him into every storyline in the sequel was a bad idea. Also, while the tragic loss of Brittany Murphy and Michael Clarke Duncan meant they couldn’t reprise their roles, not getting Clive Owen was an epic fail. Owen in the original was basically Josh Brolin’s character in the sequel after the plastic surgery. But his absence meant, Brolin after the bandages came off was…well, Brolin with a worse haircut. And stretching the Hartigan/Nancy storyline after it’s bittersweet conclusion in the original was a big mistake. By the way, since I’ve talked so much shit about him of late, let me scale it back a bit by saying I consider Det Hartigan to be an AMAZING Bruce Willis performance. He pulls off a World Weariness mixed with Resigned Fatality to give you a wonderfully poignant hero perfectly suited to the crime noir milieu he operates in.

  111. Oh yeah, ZACK & MIRI. Gotta have to rewatch that again at some point, but I wasn’t too much of a fan of it, thanks to my dislike for Seth Rogen, my indifference for Elisabeth Banks and hating the idea of “Men and women can’t be friends without falling in love, even if they are just casually fucking for money”.

  112. I have seen REBOOT, despite being a Smith agnostic, and I actually quite liked it up until the last half hour when it becomes a truly self indulgent film for people who think “gee, it would be really funny if Smith’s daughter said he hated Kevin Smith for always casting his daughter!” I don’t begrudge a man who had a near death experience for getting self indulgent, but I don’t have to like it. But still, better than I expected.

  113. not getting Clive Owen was an epic fail

    He was kind of a secret weapon of the first. He reaction shots seemed to get the biggest laughs in a movie that didn’t have a ton of laughs to begin with. It seemed the audience had the most ‘fun’ with his segment and I think his performance had a lot to do with it.

  114. grimgrinningchris

    June 3rd, 2021 at 5:11 am


    See, I disagree. I don’t really like the movie. Though I did enjoy it more on a recent second watch. I doubt I’ll watch it half as much as his best stuff.

    That said, I think the second half is far better and mostly due to Harley. The first half is really FAR too many very obvious and mostly lazy call backs.
    And while I won’t claim that it’s any great shakes storywise and that eat least half the jokes don’t fall flat. I think the actual dramatic scenes between Harley and Mewes and Mewes and Affleck really elevate the whole thing. She actually turned out to be a solid actress and clean Mewes learned how to turn it on better than I’d ever have expected. And Affleck seems genuinely happy to have closed his rift with Smith and be working with him again and giving a legit performance in his brief screen time and not just mugging like Lee.


  115. REBOOT might have been self indulgent, but it’s the sequel to STRIKES BACK, which was basically Smith’s tribute to the View Askewniverse, so that’s fair.

  116. grimgrinningchris

    June 3rd, 2021 at 8:11 am

    Yes. A sequel to Strike Back for all its silliness and irreverence (and reliance on fan service and in jokes) but also to Clerks 2 (despite Schwalbach and Dawson both playing different characters- and Schwalbach a different character still than her Strikes Back character)… which is where I think Mewes, Harley and Affleck all lifted the movie in the end with genuine emotion and heart- which Strikes Back did not have and Clerks 2 had in spades (donkey shows aside).
    While Dogma may have had more to say and it’s my favorite of his movies. Chasing Amy, Clerks 2 and Reboot all have more heart on sleeve emotion and soul searching than all of the rest of his movies combined.

  117. “A sequel to STRIKE BACK (…) but also to CLERKS 2”

    I have to disagree about the CLERKS part. One thing that is interesting about Smith is that he has that whole shared universe thing going on, but his movies are still pretty standalone-ish and are all in a slightly different style. So while REBOOT takes place after CLERKS 2, it’s not a sequel to that, just like MALLRATS wasn’t a sequel to CLERKS or DOGMA was one to any movie that came before.

  118. grimgrinningchris

    June 3rd, 2021 at 8:54 am


    Naw, sorry to say, I disagree. All of the Askewniverse movies are in the same timeline, making each consecutive one a sequel.
    The stuff with the weed buyers from Clerks 2 (and specifically referencing their interaction and dialogue in it) in reboot that became weed (and con) kingpins, Jay & Silent Bob being sober and having gone to rehab (first referenced in Clerks 2), Dante back at Quik Stop (as owner now after it burnt down at the beginning of Clerks 2), Jay referencing that he’d already pulled the Buffalo Bill tuck before (first seen in Clerks 2).

    I’m gonna need you to explain how it’s NOT a sequel to Clerks 2 as much as the previous Askewniverse movie it pays most homage to.

    Despite some actors returning in different roles,
    Clerks, Mallrats, Amy, Dogma, Strike Back, Clerks 2 and Reboot are all in the the same universe and timeline and everything after Clerks IS a sequel to the movie prior to it. I don’t even understand how this is a debate.

  119. I don’t know, I think that’s like saying SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME is a sequel to WINTER SOLDIER because Captain America is in it. Smith’s movies exist in an interconnected comic book continuity the way the Marvel superheroes do. CLERKS 2 is no more a sequel to MALLRATS than any given issue of DAREDEVIL is a sequel to any given issue of SPIDER-MAN, even though both characters exist in each book and will even make cameos.

  120. *I meant SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING. I have a hard time keeping those two straight.

  121. Like I said, the View Askewniverse share the same characters, places, sometimes references events from others, but they alway focus on different characters and, despite Smith’s trademarks and fetishes and they all being comedies, are also stylistically different from each other.

    CLERKS is a dialogue heavy workplace comedy, MALLRATS a teen movie with slapstick interludes and a touch of gross-out comedy, CHASING AMY an at times pretty somber romantic dramedy, DOGMA a big fantasy roadmovie, STRIKE BACK a crazy, cartoony slapstickfest.

    But most of all, they all tell their own stories. Dante’s workday from hell is absolutely irrelevant to TJs and Brody’s mall adventure, which doesn’t matter at all for Holden’s relationships with his best friend and the love of his life, which doesn’t matter for Bethany’s quest to safe God, which doesn’t matter for Jay & Bob’s quest to stop a movie from being made.

    However the events from Dante’s failed wedding tie into the events from CLERKS and Jay & Bob trying to stop the remake of their movie ties into the events of STRIKE BACK, but everything that happened in CLERKS 2 is completely irrelevant to that.

  122. CJ, describing the movies the way you do may make them SOUND drastically different, but I’d say that’s not really the case all that much.

  123. I never said they are DRASTICALLY different, but seriously, if you watch them all back to back (or just rewatch them a lot), you notice that while Kevin Smith made Kevin Smith movies, they aren’t just CLERKS 1-7. You can reduce the View Askeniverse to “eloquent but obscene nerds talk about comics and weed” and nobody, not even me and I’m sure definitely not Smith himself, would tell you that you are wrong, but he was smart enough to try different things, despite never stepping out of his comfort zone for a long time. Even CLERKS 2 isn’t really like part 1, despite a huge part of it is about Dante and Randall dealing with more or less shitty customers again.

  124. Wow so I didn’t know he did yet another Jay and Silent Bob movie so went looking for clips. Apparently Affleck came back so figured why not watch his. And WOW it was amazing how it was a lower grade than the average student film. Consisted of two bland shots with Affleck sitting awkwardly in his own frame as he blandly speaks poorly worded on the nose overly written dialogue that he doesn’t seem to give a shit about. Amazingly bad.

  125. grimgrinningchris

    June 3rd, 2021 at 10:49 am

    Multiple folks ignoring that 90% of sequels (outside of your planned trilogies or biggest budget joints that can afford to lure back as many people as possible) only retain one or two returning characters, often times being based on screenplays that weren’t even MEANT to be sequels, but were bought and hastily rewritten to BECOME sequels (I give you most of the Die Hard, Hellraiser, Lethal Weapon etc…sequels as proof) with minor aesthetic and name changes.
    Is Die Hard With A Vengeance not a legit sequel to Die Hard? It wasn’t written to be one… and even has a couple of minor cast members returning in different roles.
    No… it is absolutely a sequel to Die Hard as made and presented in its final form.
    That logic makes zero sense when every Askewniverse movie was written AND made with both its immediate predecessor (and the movies preceding IT) deeply in mind, consistently referenced and pushing a (albeit sometimes paper thin) singular narrative and shared character arcs forward.

    To say zilch of 100 DTV movies (outside of the aforementioned Hellraiser series) that nearly abandon their predecessors in character and/or continuity and/ or just tell the exact same story with unrelated characters. See also the DYV sequels to everything from Starship Troopers to Wild Things… they are still sequels.
    Smith Askewniverse sequels maintain story and character arcs (clunky though may very often be) far stronger than most out there.

    Im going to need some serious think tank shit to convince me otherwise.

  126. grimgrinningchris

    June 3rd, 2021 at 10:56 am

    And CJ, Jeebus love ya… you’re in my top 5 followed commenters here… and have been for the decade that Vern set up comments…

    But to imply a lack of true sequel-dom to a change in tone or presentation is to say that both Aliens and Judgement Day are not true sequels to their predecessors. And I know you aren’t saying THAT…

  127. No, but among other things, ALIENS and T2 continue the stories of respectively Ripley and Sarah Connor, while Dante and Randall don’t appear at all in MALLRATS, CHASING AMY, DOGMA and are only cameos in STRIKE BACK or REBOOT, while nothing from CLERKS has any relevance in these movies outside of maybe a few throwaway references, a shared location or two and of course Jay & Bob.

    Also in general we strayed away from the point that I wanted to make. Just because a movie takes place in a shared universe and was released after the first one, doesn’t make it a sequel. DOGMA isn’t CHASING AMY 2! Not even STRIKE BACK is CHASING AMY 2 and that one actually wouldn’t have a plot without the comic of AMY’s protagonists.

    And that Smith’s movies are outside of that are stylistically and contentwise always different enough to let them work as standalone movies, is a different point, but I take the blame for making it sound like it was an argument in the “not every movie that is connected to another one is instantly a sequel” discussion.

  128. Burt was a side character in Tremors. In Tremors 2 through now, he’s been the lead in a series of sequels without the rest of the cast except Fred Ward for part 2. Jason isn’t even a character in the first Friday the 13th, then becomes the de facto lead of the rest of the series of sequels. Hell the villains of House of 1,000 Corpses become the leads of the next one.

    So in a series of movies where the character of Jay and Silent Bob return over and over, how are those movies explicitly not sequels? I get the basic point but yeah, they’re sequels. They will reference previous movies. And so are the Marvel movies, you can’t watch Avengers 4 without having watched ALL of those other movies to have any kind of context for anything going on. Clearly the Jay and Silent Bob adventures are more self contained, but they are definitely sequels.

    Otherwise, Tremors 3 is NOT a sequel to Tremors because Kevin Bacon is not in it, even though it references the first movie and wouldn’t exist otherwise.

  129. I’d say existing in the same universe isn’t a sufficient qualifier for sequeldom. Like, Star Wars 7-9 are sequels to the original trilogy, we all agree. Are the Ewok movies also sequels to the OT by virtue of taking place later chronologically? Is the sequel trilogy also a prequel trilogy to CARAVAN OF COURAGE?

    Or take the Tarantino films. The hints at a shared universe are more subtle, more open to interpretation than the Askewniverse. But I’ve never heard it argued that it’s open to interpretation whether or not the Tarantino films are sequels to one another. Whether or not they do take place in a shared universe, they’re universally regarded *not* to be sequels, right?

  130. Shared universe is fine, but if Tarantino kept having the same characters appear over and over then sure they’d be sequels.

    Of course in the modern age it’s sort of a different thing. I mean The Mandalorian doesn’t have any Star Wars characters in it…until Luke showed up. So now it’s part of the universe, i.e. a sequel.

    What about the Tremors example? Sequels? No Kevin Bacon. Same universe. One character steps up. They’re sequels. Doesn’t matter if you have to see the other movies to follow the new one, I doubt you’ll have to have seen Knives Out to see Knives Out 2…with a whole new cast save one (who wasn’t even the true lead of the first movie).

  131. Speaking of Bruce Willis, do you guys think Bruce Willis smokes weed? Demi Moore obviously smokes weed so Bruce Willis is probably higher than Paul Shaffer on those DTV sets. Maybe he just doesn’t seem blatantly stoned like Harry “Fat Freddy’s Cat” Ford does in all movies, and also all other activities.

  132. Also I seen some Star Comics covers where the Ewoks are partying with Miss Piggy and Top Dog and the other A.L.F., is the Muppet Babies a sequel to Caravan of Courage? Asking for a friend. (Not Top Dog.)

  133. grimgrinningchris

    June 4th, 2021 at 10:21 am

    I think the Smith written comics that bridge movies in the Askewniverse (like “Chasing Dogma” filling a gap between two movies wildly different in story and tone, but retaining characters and arcs for them- and unlike SW and some others, those comics ARE considered canon) is further evidence of the sequeltude of all of the Askew movies.

    And ALF. According to Smith, the first time he met Willis was years before their Die Hard. It was on a Weinstein yacht party and Willis approached him and Mosier on the bow (they were hanging alone cuz they felt out of place amongst the bigger names) and asked if they were burning and said he’d quit smoking weed years before. So… but then despite the content of his movies, Smith never really smoked weed regularly until editing Zach & Miri under a heavy Rogen influence.

    Also, I’m not sure how far Smith gets into the issues with Willis in his live appearance DVDs and con talks as I haven’t seen a bunch of them, but in one of his books (possibly “My Boring Ass Life”) the issues went FAR further than just the lens argument.

  134. grimgrinningchris

    June 4th, 2021 at 10:28 am

    Those issues included it aren’t limited to:

    Willis refusing to do more than one or two takes of anything even if said takes had missteps or continuity errors in them.

    Disrespecting and talking down to Tracy Morgan to an offensive level.

    Stopping the entire production for hours one day, to make the entire cast and crew watch videos on YouTube of old b/w commercials for Red Rose Tea, featuring a bunch of Lancelot Link-esque clothed chimpanzees in them to “teach” everyone what “real comedy” is.

  135. “Like, Star Wars 7-9 are sequels to the original trilogy, we all agree”

    I don’t.

  136. grimgrinningchris

    June 4th, 2021 at 10:54 am


    Even if you HATE all of the episode 7-9 movies… how do you figure that they aren’t sequels?
    There is a case to be made for The Force Awakens being a soft reboot, but it does still work as an actual sequel. It may copy story beats but it still pushes the story forward with a mix of wholly new characters and returning characters that actually continue (or end) arcs previously laid out. Has a total left turn middle chapter that still manages to not only push the original narrative forward, but also in a way and with story and character elements that nobody expected).
    Despite some hacky character beats for the secondaries, some clunky storytelling and some mild retconning (some of which was actually fixed or at least explained better with The Mandalorian) Rise Of Skywalker still manages to pay off (to some success and some failure) decades old characters and storylines.
    Even if you hate all three with the fire of two Tatooine suns, how are they NOT sequels?

  137. I just realized that I own Smith’s TOUGH SHIT, but never read it. (Which…happens a lot with the books I buy. Sorry for still not having read WORM ON A HOOK.) And yeah, it has two chapters about his misadventures with Bruce. Maybe I should give at least those parts a read.

  138. According to Lucas, and as stated on-screen, Anakin Skywalker was the Chosen One, prophesied to bring balance to the Force by destroying the Sith, which he did in Return of the Jedi by killing Palpatine. The sequel trilogy has the premise that Palpatine didn’t die, but outlived Anakin, restarted the Empire, and yadda yadda yadda. This is fundamentally incompatible with the story of the prequels and OT. It’s like if someone made a Rocky sequel with the logline that Rocky didn’t lose to Apollo in the first movie, but instead Apollo died of a heart attack between rounds. That’s not a sequel; it doesn’t follow up on the events previously depicted. It’s some sort of alternate universe fanfic, like when Terminator: Dark Fate disregarded all the Terminator movies after T2. You wouldn’t call Dark Fate a sequel to Terminator: Genecis with Linda Hamilton now playing an aged Emilia Clarke, would you?

  139. Obviously some people in this discussion are using the standard definition of sequel, and some are using their own boutique definitions with very specific rules designed to exclude HIGHLANDER II or include THE LIMEY or whatever. So yes, all of these could be considered sequels or could not be if you have your own unusual definition of what that means. But you know what the other person means, right? What are we arguing about here? I love you all.

  140. grimgrinningchris

    June 4th, 2021 at 3:58 pm


    No. The prophecy is that Anakin will bring balance to the Force… it is incorrectly and naively assumed by the Jedi that that meant destroying the Sith. Destroying the Sith was never a part of the actual prophecy, just the balance part.
    And there is NO balance without an equal measure of light and dark. Shifting to one side would not be balance.
    So you’re as wrong as the boneheaded Jedi that misinterpreted the actual prophecy to suit their own narrative in this case, man.
    Just saying.

  141. Dude, Where’s My Car is a worthy sequel to Bill & Ted Bogus Journey.

  142. So how pissed would Kaplan have been if Lucas did make the sequel trilogy, where he said his plans were that the villain was going to be Sith DARTH Maul, along with a new apprentice DARTH Talon. Sith still running free and couldn’t even argue intent since it would have come from Lucas himself. Anakin probably brought balance because he brought the whole thing down…the Empire was trying to rebuild but it was still a shadow of its former glory. Balance, not a wipeout. But before, the evil Sith had wiped out all the good Jedi so they had clearly the upper hand. Emperor was still alive but he was a test tube baby, he didn’t have a lot going on. And then to me it seemed the struggling new Empire and the Republic were more evenly matched.

    I mean don’t really want to give J.J. too much credit because he is pretty hackish, but it works and hey, says Lucasfilm on it and stars the same characters. I mean Batman and Robin is an embarassing piece of shit but it’s clearly a sequel to Burton’s Batman.

    Frankly the idea of Lucas’s sequels sounded a little cooler…less Empire focused (good because that was just same ol’ same ol’) and it was going to be about Maul gathering together all of the intergalactic criminals and they take over. Looks like when they did Solo they sort of used that idea and I imagine will come back sometime (maybe Mandalorian or the Boba Fett show since they have a lot of criminals in them?).

  143. grimgrinningchris

    June 4th, 2021 at 5:03 pm

    For all of Sidious/Palpatine’s power it still barely marched the living force of 100 dead Jedi masters, even in death… that’s why nobody since Vader had been anointed with true apprenticeship/ Sith status. Not Snoke, not Kylo Ren.
    Anakin/Vader did bring balance and it took decades for that balance to even start to shift again… but still didn’t in the end.

  144. Franchise Fred

    June 4th, 2021 at 6:54 pm

    I’m staying out of this.

  145. There should be a cartoon called YOUNG STAR WARS DOGS, and the villain should be called Emperor Puppyteen.

  146. It’s also impossible to reconcile hyperspace ramming with any other Star War in the Star Wars franchise. It’s like if a new Terminator movie revealed that T-800s have the power to shoot lasers out of their eyes which can incinerate anything in one hit, but they’ve just never used this power before.

  147. After reading the two Bruce Willis related chapters in Smith’s book, I can say it’s a miracle that this movie turned out to be watchable at all, considering how Bruce’s takes were most of the time completely unusable.

    That book also clears up a bit where Smith’s sudden anti-critic stance from the post COP OUT/pre RED STATE time came from. Let’s just say it wasn’t sudden at all, had been boiling inside him since the press tour for CHASING AMY and is apparently something that everybody in Hollywood feels, only that someone like Smith has nothing to lose when he suddenly explodes over it.

  148. I remember in Return of the Jedi an X-Wing brought down an entire Star Destroyer (the big one) by ramming it. They had to excuse it by “argh, our shields!” Which were brought down by another single X-Wing. So maybe the Empire just builds shitty ships.

  149. grimgrinningchris

    June 5th, 2021 at 9:45 am

    If even half of what Smith says is true about Willis’s on set behavior, then he had every right to blow his shit over being dismissed, ignored, insulted and given nothing but pushback and grief.

    It’s just unfortunate that A
    Smith chose to focus on the lens thing (the one time Willis may have had a legit gripe- even though Smith was not the cinematographer) in his released live talks… and not the myriad of other issues he details on the book.

    And the Red Rose Tea thing? Sheesh. I mean I think chimps in human clothes and doing human things is amusing as the next guy and I’ve seen the commercial… but still… sheesh.

  150. Bruce Willis giving advice on comedy is funnier than his actual comedy would be. Like sure he can be wryly funny, but when he got to really call the shots…well, apparently he thought his mugging in Hudson Hawk was funny.

  151. Wasn’t exactly a secret Smith was no fan of critics before this; CHASING AMY ends with the dedication “to those critics who didn’t like our last film; we forgive you”. Doesn’t the start of DOGMA say something about critics too?

    On the one hand you think prominent filmmakers should be gracious and accepting of critics, especially before the Tomatofication of life, when most people probably had only a very general idea of how a film was received, plus maybe Ebert or someone and their favourite or local critic. On the other, as someone who can certainly be a bit sensitive, I recognise that’s asking a lot of someone, and it’s easy to sympathise with someone having the sum total of many months or years of work, theirs and many others, torn apart, shrugged off or dismissed. That “Afternoon Delight” quip though…

    Jonathan Ross, I guess the Richard Roeper of British film criticism would be the quickest way to explain him, went on an infamous rant when CLERKS II came out; “it’s a real tribute to the man’s shrewd use of the Internet to keep his profile alive that he has managed to sustain a career in the movie industry, as he has no detectable talent as writer, director, editor, or actor.” Smith wasn’t happy. Wasn’t there also an American critic he was at loggerheads with (Joel Seigel?) for walking out on CLERKS II?

  152. I think Kevin Smith probably liked the critics at WIZARD Magazine during the 90s, where he was kind of like their JTT.

  153. Meant to add; it’s a bit complicated in Smith’s case, because I don’t think he could have had much of a career without his early support from critics. I can’t foresee how CLERKS and CHASING AMY could have gone far in the 90s without that initial critical support.

  154. Smith describes it a bit more eloquently and detailed in his book, but his problem is not “They don’t like my movie”, it’s how gleeful they rub it into your face if they hate it. Like during the press tour for CHASING AMY, almost every interview started with sometimes more, sometimes less blunt variations of “Your last movie sucked, thankfully you got your shit together and made something good again.”. And of course the same thing happened after JERSEY GIRL and COP OUT. (At least before he told them to fuck off) And this is just Kevin Smith, a small indie film maker with a conparibly limited audience. Imagine you are a mega star like Ben Affleck and have to spend weeks with putting up a fake smile when hundreds of interviewers are basically negging you by making hacky GIGLI jokes to your face before they congratulate you for THE TOWN.

  155. No offense to the man of the house, who is a Writer of the Films of Cinema, not a critic, but I’ve never had much time for critics. They’ve had very little influence on the kinds of movies I’ve gravitated towards and the thoughts I’ve had on them. They’re largely irrelevant to me. And nowadays it seems that they have become even more arrogant and entitled than they’ve always been stereotyped as being. The other day I saw a tweet from a critic badmouthing the public for having negative reactions to her reviews, even saying some shit like “We train for years to do this so don’t tell us we don’t know what we’re talking about.” Huh. So you can criticize the work of others that you lack the skills and experience to do yourself but nobody is allowed to do the same to your work? Yeah, that seems fair. I’m not saying anybody deserves personal attacks over their work, but critics literally make a living dishing it out. I think they should learn how to take it one of these days.

  156. grimgrinningchris

    June 5th, 2021 at 3:26 pm

    Funny- since most of the advertising campaign for Chasing Amy was based on critics reviews.
    In fact the poster that hung at my mall multiplex on release here had a paragraphs long excerpt of Enerts glowing review ON THE POSTER.

    The Seigel this was a fucking joke. One, he’s a hack, morning show blurb review critic… no better than a Gene Shalit or a quote whore like Shawn Edwards.
    “Reviewing” in sound bites, bad puns, hyperbole and bullshit.

    Smith’s beef with Seigel was not that Seigel didn’t like Clerks 2. It was that he only watched half of it, then made a huge production of walking out of it and yelling to the rest of the crowd (mostly press) THAT he was walking out and that they were watching filth, blah blah blah. Which is about the most unprofessional bullshit I can possibly imagine for a name “critic”.

  157. Majestyk – I hear what you’re saying, but at the same time I think there’s room for another viewpoint on this matter: I think Vern is both a Writer and an actually good critic, because he speaks in a way that is critical in the way a lot of great art is critical of the world, or other art. (Niketown is a critical work, for example.) I just think that being a critic before being a writer is putting being like I am a parent second and a coin collector first, the shit makes absolutely no sense.

    For example: I think Lester Bangs was a great writer and a TERRIBLE critic. I would not trust the first thing he said in any of his reviews about music at all, and I like a lot of the same music as him. His opinions are absolutely scattershot. Pauline “Crabapples” Kael is not dissimilar.

    Besides having his priorities together, Vern is also trustworthy, because he is perceptive and actually in the business of considering what others might learn or seek out from his recommendations and treats this very, very honorably. I think being a critic is cool.

    Also Shalit and Lyons and all those fools are hilarious, people so untalented that they could never work in advertising, and yet they are the most widely-known people (by name) in the advertising business.

  158. Or to say it clearly, art and expression are, in essence, being a humanitarian. Being critical is a delicate art that exists in service to humanity itself, and is not the greater issue. Whoever is tweeting about how pro they are is hilarious, they must be sad that the whole culture turned into everyone complaining all the time and literally every single person in this day and age having fussy oddball lunatic taste like people who were able to access obscure media pre-internet, and that everyone is getting super-articulate and the public dialogue in arts culture is now widely unpleasant to the destructive, in all senses.

  159. Also the thing about Jonathan Ross talking mad smack and also a lot of shit on Kevin Smith is so funny because he is a totally obnoxious comic book obsesso nerd who made some documentary IN SEARCH OF STEVE DITKO (aka it should be called BOTHERIN’ STEVE DITKO), the dumbest part of which is this part where Alan Moore recites the lyrics to a song he wrote about the Steve Ditko Ayn-Rand-themed character Mr. A, but it isn’t an original song, it is literally a fucking parody of The Velvet Underground’s “Sister Ray”, and he’s like, doing “scary” eyes at the camera and talking in a rumbly and threatening voice (and it’s the acapella version) and being like “THAT’S WHAT MR. A SAID!”, but it’s like, yo, I listen to The Velvet Underground all day and also love Steve Ditko comics, what you are doing is stupid, you are acting like “Weird Al” Moore. Love that 1963 mini series though, and Swamp Thing is of course the man, did you ever hear the theme song to the Swamp Thing cartoon, it is the Troggs’ “Wild Thing” with parody lyrics, funny shit, good to watch when you’re stoned, look it up on YT sometime Alan, might be up your “weird” alley.

    Anyway I love the idea of “Wossy” being so fucking pissed off at harmless-ass Kevin Smith with his Jim Mahfood and Joe Quesada comics, and being like “WHERE IS THE ILLUSTRATIVE GRATIAS OF A GENE COLAN, THE PRIMAL UNCERTIANTY OF A BILL EVERETT. I AM GOING TO GET VERY INDIGNANT AT CLERKS 2 NOW THAT SONOFABITCH SMITH IS GOING TO GET A PIECE OF MY MIND TODAY!!!!”, and then meanwhile the little voice in his head is like “I wish I wrote Daredevil.”

  160. Franchise Fred

    June 5th, 2021 at 8:02 pm

    For a bit of context, the critic tweeting about her credentials was a woman being targeted by toxic fanboys. And her point was that she’s doing her job and people can still like what they like, but they don’t need to come at her. THAT’s abusive and it’s not in a constructive “how did you arrive at this conclusion” way. It’s usually accusations of being paid by rival studios or death/rape threats. Honestly I don’t know how my female colleagues tolerate it.

    I do this for a living myself and I also never care if other critics like or dislike something. I always found the notion that one person could predict what another person likes is absurd, and I’ve had fun with that in my writing. Vern has actually amplified movies I never would have heard of otherwise, but I wouldn’t say he’s ever convinced me not to watch a movie. That’s as it should be. We can have interesting discussions but we each choose what we watch.

    Vern is an example of doing it right. Most notably when he has to give a negative review he’s kind about it. Like it’s a real bummer the movie didn’t work.

    What’s unfortunate is the media thrives on people being defensive and attacking each other. This started with Siskel and Ebert selling the show on their fights more than their reviews (and unnecessary fat jokes). Now Twitter exists and they have no interest in teaching people that a negative review doesn’t mean you shouldn’t like the movie. When trolls tweet harassing attacks THATS free content for Twitter. Fox News operates on a similar model. If people learned to be secure in their opinions and ignore people who weren’t relevant to them, we’d all be happier but media companies would make less money.

  161. Fred – I stand corrected, thank for for the information and apologize for goofing on something that I did not know about. That is a horrifying and loathsome thing to hear about.

    I always liked Ebert’s jokes about himself, even the “you wouldn’t see that today” ones, because they are done with a spirit of absurdity and inventiveness, and that the spirit of shittiness and rudeness never went past Gene and Roger giving each other grief, with maybe the real fucked up thing being Roger being super mean to Gene for stumbling over his words, or not going to film festivals because he had family obligations. (I also laugh at both of those things, messed up sense of humor that I can have at times, particularly the film festival one.) Strangely and interestingly, they seemed to recoil from the sort of humor they employed on their show when it was found in most movies, which I think is a testament to the level of effort that they even gave their dumb (and possibly, in some ways, delegitimizing) jokes.

    Also, I feel like they didn’t really even fight on At the Movies that much, mostly it would be, like, fifteen minutes of major releases and then fifteen minutes about how you should buy laserdiscs and a home video focus on whatever movies Roger liked from a film festival last year. The branding was inaccurate and had more to do with their Carson and Letterman appearances, or the rare actual heated disagreement like BENJI THE HUNTED or FREE WILLY whatever.

  162. Also please watch all of the Siskel and Ebert FREE WILLY movie reviews if you’re ever in a crud mood or something and want to feel better, I very much recommend it!

  163. I loved Siskel and Ebert but my least favorite part was when they argued because then it stopped being about the movies and became about them. Also Rogers “hated hated hated hated” schtick stopped being about what didn’t work and became about him.

    It was relatively contained on TV but unfortunately those are the parts the criticism industry most replicated, so now it’s 24/7 in rea time, not just once a week for a half hour.

    My point is I think even Siskel and Ebert took it personally when they disagreed and that’s not healthy. You can like a movie even if everyone else in the world hated it, and usually you can find a likeminded community. It also doesn’t give filmmakers a free pass from bad reviews but artists are an insecure lot.

  164. Fred: I am definitely not condoning personal attacks. The rule across the board is “Don’t be a dick.” But plenty of critics are dicks. So many reviews are just hatchet jobs. They make me disregard those critics’ opinions, because who wants to have the same taste as a dick? Whatever so-called good art they favor has clearly failed in imparting the moral lessons that the low art i prefer taught me long ago. I do not in any way lump you in with them, though, Fred. I always feel like you’re just giving your honest take and you don’t think it holds anymore weight or importance than anyone else’s. Your humility makes you seem infinitely wiser than the vicious spite of so many of your colleagues.

  165. As is so often the case, I agree with (and am thankful for the “couldn’t have said it myself” articulation of) Majestyk, particularly regarding the excellence of Fred.

    Fred, I also sort of both do and don’t want to ask a lot of questions about the circumstances that you’ve mentioned. It is good to seek out knowledge about negativity that is occurring, but I also do not want to dwell in this person’s nightmare, or make it the subject of the collective outlawvern.com microscope. I have been targeted and harassed too, it is horrible and such a terrible misery, and something so anti-art. I cannot imagine what it must be like from this person’s point of view, and that I cannot imagine it is the reason for my reticence to begin a conversation as to who was mistreated, and how. Thank you for being a considerate voice on behalf of a very, very mistreated social group throughout all human history (and the movie business in particular).

    This is a topic I might give a few days’ genuine thought to and rejoin after seeing where the conversation goes (should it continue). It is a topic deserving of a more serious consideration.

    However, I would like to give it up a little bit for arrogance. Why not? There is a deserved kind of arrogance that Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert had which made their petty squabbles so human and relatable. Their arrogance was rooted in their souls’ ability to be articulated – an elevated (and self-forged) thing few had, and an elevated thing they humanized by acting like brats about each others’ visual identifiers on Late Night or whatever. It is a very, very strange dynamic.

    I knew a very trained musician who once said “I like Neil Young, but think he’s a bad influence.” Similarly, I had been going around for years saying that “People miss the point of Andy Kaufman, where he was actually funny.” Both of these are very applicable statements to (the lesser) aspects of the legacy Siskel and Ebert. I also think that the cultural discourse would have turned rude and persnickety (at best) with or without the Snaps: The Album aspect of At The Movies, and Roger’s anti-NORTH branding otherwise.

    There was also a weird quality of sportspersonship among those two that is sort of lost in the translation at times, like in that outtake where they are yelling at each other about what happens when they order McDonalds, it’s essentially like a three-point-shot competition of disses. I think the fact that my entire childhood seems to consist of two memories – 1.) being in school and 2.) watching Siskel and Ebert promote HOOP DREAMS for a hundred years – is very telling about who those guys were, and what their jokes about each others’ physicality was actually rooted in. They were literally paired as opponents, and were just “talking trash”. Roger Ebert was way more like Michael Jordan than he was like Jonas Mekas.

    One other funny thing about Roger is that for all of the direct hostility he directed at Gene’s hairline, I never once noticed him bragging about his hilariously perfect hair. Seriously, what is it with those old dudes like Roger Ebert or Nick Lowe with the weird plastic Ken Doll hair? That is the best, and very much unlike my wispy shit. Also, Roger never bragged about how he dressed way better than Gene, something that always makes me laugh. Maybe I shouldn’t give this away, but I always thought if I met Chaz I’d just try to talk to her about Roger’s clothes, ask what his brands were and things like that. He really was so stylish.

    Seriously though, watching those two review all the FREE WILLY movies is the best and a real mood-improver. Siskel keeps weirdly talking about how he “goes with what Speilberg says”, about how the key to a characters’ humanity is it’s eyes, and how Free Willy’s eyes do not have that humanity, and can only be seen one at a time. During a Letterman appearance, Gene offered more these thoughts and Ebert kind of seethingly replied with “Gene’s criticism of Free Willy is that you can’t see both of the whale’s eyes at the same time. That is rompin’, stompin’ film criticism.” Also I think that something funny happened at the end of it all where Ebert was like “Actually, I kinda liked FREE WILLY 3, it was fun!” Maybe I will make a YouTube comp of Siskel and Ebert: The Free Willy Saga.

    Also I love when they agree about politics at the end of those outtakes and they’re shaking each others’ hands and being all proud of their friend and colleague for being a moral person, so beautiful.

  166. I can’t imagine thinking the issue with critics today is that they are too negative; I personally think modern critics (as a whole) are too generous, at least in terms of giving generic passes to bland competency. Yes there were, and probably still are, a lot of critics who were joylessly negative, but at least that gives you something to react to; enthusiasm and passion are great, but I can only get so much out of “the latest corporate product is functional enough”. Or maybe our Tomato Overlords give them little choice but to turn shaky mid-air hands into upwards appendages?

  167. Damn the ghosts of Siskel and Ebert just showed up from the Chicago branch of heaven and put my shit in all italics, what the fuck.

    Also, Fred, I meant to say a while back that I was so happy to learn you had met Debbie Gibson, I am a big fan of her records and how hardworking of an entertainer she is, like she sings you entire MTV Unplugged-quality performances of songs for you if you buy a Cameo. I am not a filmmaker (besides, like, cartoons) but I’ve always wanted someone to cast her in something awesome that would be a non-Hallmark or Asylum production. Actually, she would be pretty good in the next singin’ Bruce movie, he’s from Jersey and she’s from Long Island, she can play piano, etc.

    Also, I wanted to mention this a while back but the director of the “Electric Youth” music video is also the dude who made RETURN OF BRUNO and DOUBLE DRAGON, also that video was filmed on some weird post-apocolyptic soundstage that must have been some reused CYBORG-style shit. Also, at one point, DG’s co-producer (the dude who played the keyboards on the first Maddona LP) flings across the screen while playing a keytar and smiling in a really funny way, an excellent moment.

  168. Pacman: The problem with critics is that they’re superfluous. Movies are a popular art form. We don’t need gatekeepers to tell us what to watch. People with opinions, sure. Express yourself, spark discussion. If you’re a great writer like Our Man Vern here, you can even trick somebody into learning something while they’re being entertained. if that’s your bliss, please follow it. But an entire professional class dedicated to telling us what we can easily figure out on our own? That feels like an obsolete concept to me. I didn’t need critics when they spent my entire youth telling me everything I love was garbage and I don’t need them now that they’re a cannibalistic hive mind of spurious hot takes and fanboy handjobs.

  169. Eh, I’m being an asshole. Critics are fine. They do what they do. I don’t have much use for it but if others do I’m not gonna knock it.

  170. I don’t even think it’s a matter of that the idea of an entire culture, structure and creative-class of people working in the field of criticism is even that bad, it’s just all labels for expression anyway. My favorite director is Jane Campion, and I like Vern about fifty billion times better than I like Jane Campion. If holograms that read you sonnets (with occasional choose your own adventure qualities) while ambient slide guitar mixed with the tuba played and you voted on what color the sky was was the main popular artform I bet there would be a lot of good people doing that – I don’t even think “art” vs “criticism” is anything but labels anyway, which was kinda what I was saying about there being a difference in what beautifully happens here – which is expression – and what happens elsewhere – which is destructive negativity, or advertising.

  171. Also, I’d just like to say that for the record, my favorite critic is Vern and my second favorite critic is Dorothy Parker.

    Dorothy Parker is some funny shit, I bet a lot of you are fans but if you are not familiar (or just know her like, “notable quotables”) I’d recommend all her mean reviews very much, particularly the one about how much she hated Winnie the Pooh. She was a hilarious and moving writer – one of the closest people there ever was to Vern, really.

    There are interesting parallels to some other folks we’re talking about, too – her short story “The Waltz” is one of the great culturally-critical, feminist-minded works of all time, and it is also both expressively and morally functional because much of it is a series of well-thought out and funny insults.

  172. Franchise Fred

    June 6th, 2021 at 5:48 pm

    Maj, I don’t like negative dicks either and I don’t read them. But I think it is entirely valid for a critic to say if she’s educated at a reputable educational institution and has successfully made a living as a critic for decades than yes, she is qualified to keep making a living as a film critic. And again this same person said her review doesn’t mean YOU should stop liking it. Just, you know, maybe there’s a simpler explanation to her negative review than she’s an anti-Zack Snyder studio stooge. Maybe she just didn’t like a movie.

    I hardly think movie critics are gatekeepers. Nobody’s stoping Disney, WB, Netflix et al from getting their content to the masses. If anything critics champion those movies without such corporate support (none of these arguments are about critics shitting on helpless indies BTW. Even Smith’s films has the support of Miramax.) critics are just content creators. News outlets happen to want movie reviews so that’s what we do. The problem is people taking it personally and not keeping the perspective that it’s just something you either decide to read or not.

    ALF I agree society would have turned this way with or without Siskel and Ebert. I don’t blame them. I meant to say it’s the institutions like Twitter and cable news that profit off this. Would be great if people stopped giving them free content at humanity’s expense but the corporate overlords satisfy folks’ addictions.

    And you’re so right about people not getting Andy Kaufman. Sacha Baron Cohen is the new evolution. So many talentless hacks now think if they make a scene they’ve created art.

  173. Franchise Fred

    June 6th, 2021 at 5:51 pm

    I do agree that reporters who harass Smith and Affleck for previous bombs should not be granted interviews. But Hollywood allows lots of unprofessional behavior to continue with no consequences and sadly those reporters are likely hired by outlets with a bigger reach than more professional, well-behaved, respectful journalists. See again the Sacha Baron Cohen /Andy Kaufman problem. Those bottom feeders think they’re creating viral moments…

  174. I think Fred has his heart and brain in the right place. Though I will say, as a mini-budget filmmaker I have found it very upsetting when “critics” have made personal attacks on me in the context of their “reviews” of my movies. Calling me many and all manner of personal things, not movie related, that they have no business commenting on. These critics don’t know me, is how I felt.

    Now, I was a critical studies major at USC back in the day. (Though I never ever wanted to be a critic), but that education at least made me LOVE a pan of my movies, as long as they were well written. What we have now are a lot of internet critics who are puffing their chests out with little regard for writing. Again, I have no problem with pans, as long as you have done you’re damn homework.

    Our guy Vern here, interesting case. He is able to meet the movie he is watching on its own terms. And on those terms, figure what works or doesn’t, I don’t always agree, but at least that is a very respectable approach. (He didn’t call me an ‘asshole’ in his review as another ‘critic’ did). A big reason why I read and respect.

  175. I know everyone’s moved on, but I would like to point out the MALLRATS is actually a TEMPLE OF DOOM-style prequel to CLERKS. The plot of MALLRATS kicks off with the death of a girl in a swimming pool the day prior. The same girl whose funereal Dante and Randall ruin in Clerks! So MALLRATS technically takes place a couple of days before CLERKS.

    I can’t tell you how pleased with myself I was when I figured that out.

  176. Franchise Fred

    June 6th, 2021 at 8:37 pm

    Drew, I don’t know what films you have made but most professional critics agree that bashing film festival movies in search of distribution is pointless (some may still be assigned by trades and such). Certainly personal attacks in reviews are a red flag of poor writing, but that isn’t even the grounds on which professional critics are defending themselves against trolls. These are fans of major corporate products who take it personally when a stranger doesn’t like the movie. I WISH fans of indies like, say, Detention would get that passionate about amplifying movies that need the support. Army of the Dead will be just fine.

    I think Twitter was a mistake. We should not all have such immediate access to each other, let alone celebrities and artists.

  177. Drew, your points are spot on. Lost count of the number of reviews I checked out of mid-way when I see the critic calling the actors or film-makers “assholes” I’m like..eh? You reviewing the movie and the roles they’re playing or their actual personalities which you may justifiably or not, loathe?

    I read this review of Mel Gibson’s FATMAN (which I enjoyed by the way, the movie NOT the review) by this reviewer who I won’t dignify with a name and 90% of it was along the lines of “What the hell am I, a Jewish person, subjecting myself to a Mel Gibson Christmas movie for?”. Yes, as a Jewish PERSON, you’re perfectly justified for hating Gibson, an actor caught on camera making deeply anti-Semitic remarks and is the son of a known Holocaust denier, but as a CRITIC, what bearing does that have on the movie? Far as I know, neither Gibson nor any character in that film behaved or made any remark which could be construed as anti-Semitic.

    Even Walter Chaw, a critic I deeply admire, can’t resist getting personal. He refers to X-MEN LAST STAND as being the movie directed by “that asshole Brett Ratner” and in his review of FURIOUS 7 made some comment along the lines of dead or alive, Paul Walker’s the worst actor on the planet. Although it can be argued the Ratner comment was personal, whereas the Walker comment was just deeply insensitive.

    Filtering a movie through the prism of your own personal and political beliefs can be the veggies, but not the whole damn steak.

  178. Franchise Fred

    June 6th, 2021 at 9:32 pm

    I think it’s ok to call Brett Ratner an asshole on behalf of the multiple women who have come forward to report the sexual abuse he perpetrated. Was this in a 2006 written review when less of that was known (though some already was)?

    Otherwise I feel folks are conflating legitimate professionals defending their work (and their personal accounts) with bad writers who somehow aren’t even the targets of abuse and conspiracy theories.

    Put it this way: if you tweeted at a critic “I think
    Your comparison of this movie to X, Y and Z is off base for these reasons” most professionals would probably have a conversation with you. We’re talking about folks saying “You should be fired because you must be in the pocket of a rival studio if you gave my favorite director a bad review.”

  179. Fred, it is ok to call him that within a personal context. I myself would. My gripe is to use that as a baseline and rip his movie to shreds, even if it doesn’t warrant such criticism. It’s like, if director X made a RUSH HOUR-type buddy comedy but who ISN’T a creep to women, and a critic says “this is a perfectly entertaining, if unremarkable buddy actioner”

    Same critic, on RUSH HOUR ” What else can you expect from a repellant creep like Brett Ratner but this absolute stinker?”

    One’s a professional review, the other’s a personal attack. Which is fine. Just don’t pass that off as some legitimate critique.

    Am in complete agreement with the rest of your points

  180. As a fan of his X-Men movie I haven’t read Walter’s review. The Walker comment seems in poor taste and those sorts of things would turn me off to a reviewer, but I wouldn’t bother to contact him or let it sour my enjoyment of either film.

    Just like I never let any critic stop me from loving Hudson Hawk or Last Action Hero.

  181. Ummm. Walter Shaw. I have heard much about his wannabe filmmaker schtick. Then he did it to me, which I thought was funny. Then some folks from M– Other good stuff told me about him. Two of my favorite critic stories are Bergman clocking a guy who came into his theatre, and Robert Altman dumping a pitcher of wine on one at Elaine’s. In Denver, if I ever run into Walter Chaw, I promise a better story.

  182. On the whole I like Walter Chaw. He writes well, makes mostly cogent points about movies he both loves and hates, and the times he gets personal are thankfully the exception rather than the norm.

    “but I wouldn’t bother to contact him or let it sour my enjoyment of either film.”

    Exactly. Or, just comment on why you disagree with the critic’s opinion in a respectful manner, for Pete’s sake! Like most of us manage here.

    Film Freak Central, the site that Chaw mostly writes for once had a comments section which they eventually shut down. Because some people needed to get personal with him, and because Chaw is Asian, it wasn’t just enough for a few to be just assholes, they needed to be racist assholes as well.

  183. Correct me if I’m wrong, but my understanding of the increasingly popular “gatekeeping” colloquialism is that it refers not just to work being kept from the public and vice versa, but also what works are allowed to be deemed important or significant. In that sense I film Film Critics absolutely are gatekeepers, but I don’t see gatekeeping as an entirely negative thing. I think gatekeeping among music critic has historically been far worse too.

  184. Also I think someone should toast Jerome on breaking the ground on the “MALLRATS is a prequel” discovery.

  185. grimgrinningchris

    June 7th, 2021 at 3:17 am

    Yes, Jerome is totally right that Mallrats takes place directly before Clerks.
    It’s still a sequel (as are all prequels by the simple fact that it came out later but still not sits in the same timeline/universe).
    It’s also a direct line to Strike Back by way of its closing scene with Suzanne, the ape.
    In a vaguely related note… I’ve seen far too many “professional” writers off handedly refer to earlier released movies in a series as “prequels” to later installments.
    No. A prequel is very specifically a movie released later in a series but whose events take place before an earlier released movie.
    I think the term was even coined specifically for Temple of Doom… which I think was the first legit example. And not just because of it taking place before US involvement in WW2 but more importantly what it meant for the character. In Raiders, Indy is intent on historical preservation and honor… whereas he begins Temple as a selfish asshole seeking “fortune and glory”. It is the events of …Doom and his change of heart to go back and free the slave children that informs his arc from treasure seeker to hero and history preserver.
    Blah blah blah… too many people get paid to write about movies in that don’t understand the basics of film history or even vocabulary. And that always irks me.

    I’ve never read any of this Chaw guys stuff and never even heard of him or that sight before this thread. Should I fix that? Even if just for curiosity’s sake?

    On another note in regards to the Askewniverse movies all being legit sequels (and in the case of Mallrats, an actual prequel) I believe it was Majestyk (100 apologies if I’m wrong) that questioned the validity of that, asking (I think) “Is Far From Home” a sequel to “Civil War” just because they share a universe?

    The answer to that is YES.
    A shared universe with a shared timeline and shared characters will, in my mind, always be considered the same story.

    You have two full on prequels in First Avenger and Captain Marvel. A “midquel” in Antman & The Wasp (which I believe is meant to take place at roughly the same time as Infinity War) and the iffy Guardians since they start out in the 80s and 70s respectively but the bulk of their stories happen concurrent to the Avengers et al on Earth.

    But they are still all the same series and their characters change due to the events that happen in ALL of them, even movies that certain characters aren’t in or aren’t the focus of…

    So yes, all of the Askew movies ARE sequels/prequels to each other, just as all of the MCU movies are.

    Now back to criticism. If y’all think movie criticism is a cesspool of personal attacks, bile and pretension (it IS that, by and large… but with a giant Twinkie of hacks and quote whores sandwiched in between) y’all should look at the history of theater critics. Hachi Machi… if ever there was a group of jealous, bitter so nothings willing to tear down the hard work of human beings in the arts with such gleeful abandon… it’s fucking theater critics. ESPECIALLY in the 70s and 80s.

  186. grimgrinningchris: Here’s a taste. I happen to be aligned with Chaw with regards to his opinion of Army Of The Dead but there have been numerous times when our tastes wildly diverged

    Army of the Dead (2021) - Netflix

    */**** starring Dave Bautista, Ella Purnell, Omari Hardwick, Garret Dillahunt screenplay by Zack Snyder & Shay Hatten and Joby Harold directed by Zack Snyder by Walter Chaw A band of highly-outfitted soldiers enters a hive of monsters on a rescue mission. Accompanying them is a person scarred psychologically by a fight with these monsters, as well as a representative of an evil corporation that is more interested in harvesting the monsters--not for any humanitarian purpose, but to use as WMDs--than in exterminating them. For a little heroic comic relief, meet the not-completely-ordinary-seeming pilot, who, at a moment of crisis, appears to have disappeared only to reappear once our survivors have lost all hope. That's right, Zack Snyder's Army of the Dead is a remorseless, brazen rip-off of Aliens, down to outfitting a monster-killing badass exactly like Jenette Goldstein's "Vasquez" and to cribbing a few lines from James Cameron's script wholesale. At some point, Aliens apparently became an obscure, seldom-seen relic of a forgotten past ripe for strip-mining in this hotly-anticipated, deeply disappointing and distended genre epic. To be fair, Army of the Dead doesn't only rip off Aliens (which it does remorselessly): it also lifts Richard Matheson's I Am Legend...

  187. Can’t really get on board with a film being called “kind of fun” and the getting *\****. Then again maybe it’s part of a critic’s duty of care to report that just because a film is fun that doesn’t mean it’s actually good? But then what do you give a film that is neither fun nor good?

  188. grimgrinningchris

    June 7th, 2021 at 8:58 am


    That’s a review? That’s three paragraphs of words that add up to nothing to give the reader anything. That’s not a review. It’s not an essay. It’s a bunch of words.
    And this guy makes money with that?

    Also, I will defend Deiter’s screams. Mainly because he is the most likable character in the movie… if the screams were being played simply for laughs there would have at least been a third one (repetition in comedy hits at 3, and all) but he does it twice… almost an hour apart. Whatever. Bruce Campbell does high pitched “woman” screams multiple times in Evil Dead 2. I’d call Deoters more call backs to those than anything.
    He’s the most capable of most of the crew. The least prepared and least macho (even counting the women) but does exactly what he was “hired” for and more and then sacrifices himself to try to save the overall mission.
    I think pointing out two screams is the epitome of lazy, bullshit criticism.
    So this Film Freak dingleberry can go fuck himself with his laZy writing and even lazier analysis.

    And this is coming from Someone that has no plans to ever watch the movie again.

  189. Hahahaha….I gave you a bite, you spat it out in disgust and will most likely never sample anything else on the menu, and that’s cool. Chaw isn’t for everyone (no critic I think is) and as I’ve mentioned, I’ve wildly disagreed with a lot of stuff he’s reviewed. I also like some of ’em.

    I’m just a little more onboard with his take on AOTD because we both happen to share a disgust of it’s crappy and uninspired rip-off of a movie I’ve self-anointed the greatest sci fi/action hybrid ever made. A fact that seems to bother me more than most, it seems like. But that’s cool too.

  190. I discovered Chaw recently. I enjoy his prose even though he seems to hate every movie he watches. Except the Snyder Cut. His glowing review of the Snyder Cut is probably my favorite piece of film writing so far this year.

  191. Shout out to Jerome for figuring out the Mallrats timeline.

  192. grimgrinningchris

    June 8th, 2021 at 7:36 am

    Anyone ever see the unaired pilot for the clerks. sitcom? With Jim Breuer (ugh) playing Randall?

    It’s fucking terrible.


  193. I’m late on this one but I wanted to say thank you for saying that my reviews are kind. I aspire to that. But it should be noted that the main reason David DeFalco got so mad at my CHAOS review is that I called him a “dipshit” in it (I think in reference to the DVD extra where he flexes his muscles and rants about Roger Ebert in the actual L.A. County Morgue) so I’m guilty too.

  194. Thanks, all. It’s nice to be acknowledged. Chris, I agree with everything you said about TEMPLE OF DOOM and its importance to Indy’s evolution as a character. TOD is one of my favorite (and thus, most watched) movies so I’ve given this a lot of thought over the years. I don’t have much to add, tho. You summed it up pretty well. Uh, I guess I’ll say that I can sing along with ‘Anything Goes’ in Mandarin because I’ve seen the movie so many times I learned it phonetically?

    Oh, and Walter Chaw is prolly my other favorite critic. I’d give him another chance. He’s changed my mind (or altered my perception of, at least) on many a movie, going both ways.

  195. So of course I had to watch this again, if only for the Harold Faltermeyer score, which had faded in my memory. I’d say CJ(?) is right, it sounds like someone trying to do him rather than the man himself. Tracy Morgan is almost universally annoying, as usual, barring a few scenes with Seann William Scott. He’s the high point of the movie and steals every scene he’s in. Willis has a few good moments, nothing to write home about tho.

    Oh, and CJ, it REALLY does feel like a Part 3. That was a really good insight and made me look at the movie in a new light. Even if I feel pretty much the same way about it now as I did 10 years ago.

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