The Kevin Smith Retrospective – Part II

Yesterday I posted the first of three posts revisiting Kevin Smith’s movies. Today I’m here with part two, wherein I discuss Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and Jersey Girl.

This section was interesting because I had only seen two of the movies once before and I’ve never been a huge fan of Jay and Silent Bob as characters. I was eager to see how time affected my perspective of these movies.

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Dogma (1999) – Buy it on Amazon by clicking here

I’m really happy Kevin Smith made Dogma. It’s so different from his other work, yet it retains that very specific Kevin Smith aura very well. And the spurts of violence mixed with a religious backdrop really sets the stage for Smith’s 2011 horror movie Red State.

Ben Affleck and Matt Damon play two angels who have been cast out of heaven. They discover a loophole that will allow them to re-enter heaven while destroying all of creation. The movie follows an group of unlikely heroes, including Jay and Silent Bob, set on stopping the angels and saving the universe.

It’s a very different direction for Smith. In some ways, the inclusion of Jay and Silent Bob keeps the movie grounded in Kevin Smith’s established comfort zone of vulgarity. And while it seems like the movie would have worked just as well without them, they don’t drag it down in any way.

Linda Fiorentino, on the other hand, doesn’t break any new ground with her acting in this role. She leads the eccentric band of heroes as Bethany, an abortion clinic worker reluctantly pulled into the plot by the Voice of God (played by Alan Rickman). Every performance I’ve seen of hers has been passable at best. She brings the same dry, flat delivery to every role and this movie is no different. Her performance here left a bit to be imagined; namely what it would’ve been like if Joey Lauren Adams had taken the role instead.

Despite that minor setback, it’s still a very good movie. Like Smith’s previous films, Dogma thrives off of hilariously skewed perspectives. And using religion for a basis instead of pop culture made for another refreshing entry in Kevin Smith’s filmography.

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Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001) – Buy it on Amazon by clicking here.

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back shouldn’t work as well as it does. It takes two fan favorite but ultimately one-dimensional characters and expands them into their own full length adventure. I’ve never gotten sick of or annoyed at the duo but, until now, they’ve never had to carry an entire movie.

What works for it is that it’s more a vehicle for Smith’s satirical look at Hollywood and the “internet generation” than it is a Jay and Silent Bob movie. Smith filters a highly cynical look at the entertainment industry through the eyes of his two lovably vulgar and mischievous drug dealers. He puts Hollywood and the internet in the same absurd comedic league as Jay and Silent Bob and creates a very memorable send-up of the entertainment industry’s inner workings.

The movie centers around Jay and Silent Bob’s quest to stop a movie being made from the comics that were inspired by them. Along the way Jay finds love, they steal a monkey and run into many familiar faces from previous Smith movies. Catching up with familiar characters is a nice treat for the View Askewniverse fans who wanted more Mallrats or Chasing Amy.

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Jersey Girl (2004) – Buy it on Amazon by clicking here.

This is my least favorite of Kevin Smith’s movies (I’m still excluding Cop Out here, of course). It’s not a bad movie by any means. In fact, I would go so far as to say it’s a really good movie. It just didn’t seem genuine to Kevin Smith’s voice as a filmmaker.

Jersey Girl stars Ben Affleck as a former publicist struggling with being a single father. Such an inordinate amount of time is spent setting up the movie’s central premise that it almost makes it feel disjointed and boring. It feels as if Smith needed more time to work on the script before production began.

Storytelling hurdles aside, the movie tells a cute, poignant tale about fatherhood and what it means to put your child first. The birth scene in the beginning that quickly changes to tragedy is heartbreaking to watch. It transforms Ben Affleck’s character to a more arrogant, flawed and angry man. But he’s relatable and likeable enough that it’s easy to root for him in his journey toward being a better father.

The movie is aided by strong supporting performances from George Carlin (playing Affleck’s alcoholic father) and Liv Tyler as Affleck’s love interest. It’s the most heartfelt of Smith’s work but there still seems to be something lacking. Regardless, it’s a very solid effort and we’ll worth seeing.

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That’s the end of part two. Check back tomorrow for the final part of my Kevin Smith retrospective. Comment with your thoughts on the post and make sure you follow the blog on Twitter and like it on Facebook.

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