Kevin Smith!

Surprised? Confused?

We were too but then it sort of started to make sense.

Kevin Smith has announced he’s going to take his career in a different direction which seems normal because as he’s usually either zigging or zagging. 

Due to diminishing returns at the box office and a determination to retain his perpetually on the brink of mainstream status he’s taking he’s stepping back toward a better future.

He’s got Sequel Fever and he’s hoping it’s contagious.

Poignant stuff.

Kevin has a way with words and has always been vocal about his experience in the business of show while being pretty clever about not biting the hand that feeds him.

“We’re not living in some environment like The Fast and the Furious, where people are like, ‘Gimme another one!’ They’re not clamoring to see a Jay and Silent Bob sequel. So you have to be able to make it financially justifiable. It’s the only way the movie gets made.”

He knows the game and has played it well while generally keeping his voice intact and thriving in environments where he can be the complete creator.

The Creators’ Creator.

So what’s a Jersey boy to do, outside of becoming a studio hack, see the shitty and generic Cop Out starring Bruce “The Douche” Willis and Tracy “The Crackhead” Morgan.

Or a shill for IMDB TV or whatever the fuck they call it. 

He recognizes that if he wants to work he’s going to have to stay in his wheelhouse, so he reopened shop and hung an Asshole flag out to let everyone who’s interested know he’s finally ready to bend all the way over and spread.

I am of course referring to his integrity.

Two years ago, Smith told his online followers that his dreams of Mallrats and Clerks sequels would never take off because rights holder Universal wouldn’t budge. “They’ve never let go of a single property in the history of Universal,” he said on his SModcast. “Once they own it, they own it.”

However, Smith said that’s changed in the wake of Universal’s international support of Jay and Silent Bob Reboot.

“I went out with the Universal folks last month, they said, ‘We love it, what do you want to do next?’ I said, ‘Well, you guys got this movie, Mallrats…’”

Kevin’s gamble, to lower his artistic credibility in an attempt to reinvigorate his “rabid fanbase,” is a bold one. But maybe the goodwill has paid off, after all, good press, especially for the perpetual outsider, is hard to get these days.

Check the left-handed praise for his upcoming sequel/roadshow Jay and Silent Bob Reboot.

Aesthetically, Jay and Silent Bob Reboot may not be Smith’s finest hour — it’s a two-hour lowbrow comedy crammed with inside jokes — but it’s certainly the purest Kevin Smith movie ever made.

Newbies to his expansive world of self-absorbed geeks might find Jay and Silent Bob too high on its own supply, but that’s kind of the point: The movie finds the pair on a cartoonish journey to stop no less than Kevin Smith from directing a reboot of their previous Bluntman and Chronic misadventures.

It is interesting to note here that Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back was supposed to be the swan song for the duo as Kevin looked ahead to bigger and better projects.

When Kevin was coolest

I remember watching the Criterion Collection of this movie and in a behind the scenes interview with the director and writer he not so subtly suggests his movie Chasing Amy was overlooked by the Academy.

I thought then and still do is an interesting point because that movie, despite starring pre-veneers Ben Affleck, was a fun fresh and witty look at a rarely explored relationship dynamics. It had range, depth and was ultimately heartfelt so it does make one wonder what exactly did go wrong for Kevin?

He came up during a time when independent cinema was delivering the goods after years of shitty studio fare people left audiences desperate for quality entertainment.

Kevin rode in this awesome wave that saw people like Billy Bob Thornton rise from bit player to deserving Oscar winner and multiple nominees (Slingblade, A Simple Plan) and shtupper of Angelina Jolie in her prime. Personally I thought Gia was her best look.

This was the best era for movies and television my lifetime and I’m roughly 40.

Anyway, I digress but Kevin Smith and his ViewAskewinverse belong amongst the icons of the 90s, and like the 90s, he seems to be coming back in style.

Much of Smith’s career was enabled by Miramax, and Smith joins other ‘90s filmmaker phenoms who have to shake free of accused sexual predator Harvey Weinstein’s shadow.

Funny how things work.

Dudes almost 50, has 3.2 million Twitter followers and his SModcast is one of the longest-running Podcasts going.

One Journey Ends…

So where do we see Kevin in another 20 years?

It’s hard to say but as long as he learns his lessons from his heart attack and figures out who he really wants to be as a filmmaker I am pretty sure, though it may not be etched on any major awards, he will still be a name in entertainment.

I’ll close on a personal note and you’re welcome for it. I like Kevin Smith. He’s given me hours of introspective entertainment that is unparalleled. I like his universe, I like his characters and I like that he is beginning to accept what he has to offer, though maybe narrower than he aspires to, it still very rich in storytelling potential.

Besides Jason Mewes, he’s helped build careers for Jason Lee and Joey Lauren Adams and to a lesser extent Brian O’Halloran (Dante) and Jeff Anderson (Randall) who was, according to the article, instrumental in side-lining Clerks 3 over a pay dispute.

Kevin seems to be ready and willing to recognize others who helped him along his way and not just so he could ride their coattails once their stars eclipsed his own.

See BenAffleckMattDamonJasonLeeJasonLondonShannonDohertyStanLeeMichaelRooker for examples.

Regarding Randall Graves…

The two men started exchanging emails after Smith’s heart attack, and finally made amends less than a month ago, during a signing event for the 25th anniversary of Clerks.

“When I saw him, I talked about how I understood what he was saying now,” Smith said. “It ain’t about dollar signs, it’s about recognizing somebody’s value. You can’t make this thing without this person. He has to feel comfortable before we roll a frame of film. So we’ll figure out the number and build the movie around that.”

He expected to build a story almost entirely set in the same Quick Stop convenience store of the original. “It’s basically a two-hander,” Smith said. “I can use the rest of the budget to pay the boys what they’re worth.”