In the thirteen years since Clerks II, Kevin Smith’s career made a number of different turns, and to go over each of his ensuing films would be pretty exhaustive. I think the most influential event for him in that time was the birth of the SModcast, a podcast hosted by Smith and longtime producer and friend Scott Mosier, where they would basically talk for hours on end about whatever was on their minds. Its popularity would eventually lead to even more different podcasts hosted by Smith, forming the SModcast podcast network. Now the man who could never stop himself from talking in interviews and live events had a brand-new outlet to gab on and on for multiple hours a week on various different shows he’d co-host with Mosier, Jason Mewes, his wife, Ralph Garman, and more. Kevin Smith had built his career upon writing scripts filled with characters who were pretty much all versions of himself, communicating his likes, his dislikes, his theories, his profane thoughts, and so forth. Sure, there were stories and characters involved, but they were all basically vessels for Smith’s personal thoughts on things. But now he didn’t need to spend months making a multi-million dollar movie to broadcast his feelings on a certain subject. All he needed was a microphone, and he could record a podcast and release it that day to his thousands of fans. Podcasting proved to be the perfect creative outlet for Smith to express himself, so what did he need to keep making movies for?
The 2010s is when Smith’s filmography starts to get weird, as he surprisingly started to dip into the horror genre. First was Red State, a movie Smith had written for a while, and one I was very intrigued by: a thriller featuring antagonists based on the Westboro Baptist Church, the extremist religious hate group best known for picketing anywhere they’ll get media attention with their “God Hates Fags” signs. I remember being disappointed by the movie, but it’s been forever since I’ve seen it. As well as being a big departure for Smith thematically, Red State was also the first film he financed on his own, as he pretty much divorced himself from the major Hollywood system after this. Without needing to cater to a mass audience outside of his fans anymore, Smith could basically get away with whatever weird shit he wanted. Enter Tusk, a movie born entirely from a joke. The premise (a horror film about a man who gets turned into a walrus) started as a dumb bit Smith and Mosier came up with during an episode of SModcast, with Smith calling up his fans to tweet #WalrusYes if they wanted them to really make the movie. So, of course, his listeners happily endorsed him, and he actually went through it. Tusk, and its ensuing spin-off Yoga Hosers, were movies that acted as even bigger inside jokes than Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, as they were filled with easter eggs and references to Kevin Smith’s different podcasts, as Smith was more or less embracing that whatever he makes, be it film or podcast, he’s doing it for his already well-insulated fans who will understand and rejoice at any obscure callback he tosses in. This leads us to Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, an in-joke stuffed inside another in-joke, a movie made exclusively for the Kevin Smith faithful, even more so than Strike Back was. I saw this in theaters when it came out in a room filled with View Askew-heads, complete with a surprise appearance by Kevin Smith to introduce it, and the audience absolutely ate it up. It’s the absolute ideal setting to watch this movie in, as even though consciously I didn’t think it was very good, I still found the entire theater experience to be pretty positive. And after seeing it again, I’ll say that that was probably the only context you should watch this movie and not want to turn it off after the first half hour, if not earlier. Continue reading “ReView Askew: Jay and Silent Bob Reboot (2019)”