Do you know what’s worse than watching a bad movie? It has to be watching three bad movies. Worse than that is watching three bad movies where it’s obvious to everyone involved in the films that they know they’re bad movies. It doesn’t take long until you begin to think that you’re the one everyone is really laughing about. You can picture a couple members of the cast sitting with the director all laughing their rear ends off at the poor rube who actually spends good money, and more importantly, their time, watching the piece of crap you just dropped into their DVD or Blu-ray player. It’ll take forever to get that stink out of my home theater.
Lately there has been a push to avoid crowds. There’s the whole H1N1 scare out there. Even the Vice-President says he wouldn’t be caught out in a crowd for nothing right now. Way to give us confidence there, Joe. If you too are afraid of crowds, going to a Kevin Smith film is the surest way to avoid them. I have been told by a few, and I do mean very few, Kevin Smith fans I’ve talked to that it’s not at all that the films suck. The problem, so they say, is that I just don’t get it. The idea is that Smith is some kind of artistic genius and a pedestrian reviewer like myself just doesn’t have the sophistication to understand his superior humor. I know that people like Smith likely believe it’s true. But, if I’m the one who just doesn’t get it, I’m not alone. The only folks who are alone are the unfortunate saps that went to see these films at the box office. The numbers don’t lie. These films fared horribly, and that’s being generous. The second Smithite argument is that, while the box office results were indeed pitiful, the films themselves were very low budget, so they did make more than they cost. Another bogus argument. No budget films have taken the world by storm. Look at the recent success of Paranormal Activity. That film cost less than any of these movies, a modest $15,000, and has raked in nearly a $150 million in box. Clerks pulled in just over $3 million. Chasing Amy just about $12 million. Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back broke the bank at just about $30 million. None of the films broke the top 100 for the year in which they were released. Yeah, I don’t get it. Apparently, a lot of people don’t get it.
For his laughs, Smith relies entirely on vulgarity. There isn’t anything clever or original about any of this. He actually shows off how cheaply the films look and sound. All of this is not a great choice for high definition and Blu-ray releases. To his credit, Kevin Smith himself admits that these films are a ripoff on Blu-ray in his introduction to the Clerks Blu-ray. He knows that while most things look better in high definition, crap just looks more like… well… crap.
Here are the films included in the 3 disc collection:
The entire film is taken up following two clerks as they go through a typical day. One, Dante (O’Halloran) works at a convenience store, while the other, Randall (Anderson) works next door at the video shop. Dante wasn’t even supposed to be working that day, as he constantly reminds us. His boss set him up to be stuck from open to close at the shop. His friend, Randall, is the typical irresponsible pothead. He closes up the video store whenever he wants to drop in on Dante to philosophize on life. Together they manage to wax vulgar about pretty much everything, including women. There’s no plot. There’s no point. There’s just Randall and Dante and the idiots they run into in a typical day of work. Smith himself plays Silent Bob, a character that shows up in pretty much all of his films. If only we could have gotten Smith, the writer director, to keep as quiet. I’d have a few hours of my life back.
Chasing Amy (1997):
“Skywalker gets his hands on a light saber, and the boy decides he’s gonna run the f’in universe; gets a whole clan of whites together. And they go and bust up Vader’s hood, the Death Star.”
Holden (Affleck) and Banky (Lee) put out an independent comic book called Blankman. Holden draws the book while Banky inks the book. There’s a running gag about how inking is really just tracing. It might have been funny the first 20 or 30 times we hear it. Holden falls in love with a girl he meets at a comic convention who has her own book. Alyssa (Adams) is gay, but Holden thinks he can bring her around. Unfortunately for us, actress Joey Adams has about the most annoying voice in films today. There’s a nasal quality that just begs for a tissue. It fits in well with this film that reminds me of the pipes that Matt Jeffries had marked on the set of the original Star Trek with the letters GNDN. It stood for Goes Nowhere Does Nothing. He could have been describing Chasing Amy. Affleck is at his absolute worst here, and what really hurts is that you can tell he knows it. He’s phoning the performance in and looks rather annoyed at his predicament throughout most of the film. Smith and Adams were having some kind of a relationship at the time, and most of the script feels like one big inside joke to their affair. About the only bright spot at all in the film are the few minutes we get of Dwight Ewell as Hooper X. His public shtick is that of the held down black man, while in private he’s a mellow gay guy. He provides the only laughs of the film.
Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back (2001)
“The Internet is a communication tool used the world over where people can come together to bitch about movies and share pornography with one another.”
The duo who sell pot in front of Dante’s convenience store finally get their own film. It was Smith’s biggest budget film at $20 million and brought in his biggest box take at $30 million. The “plot” has the duo discovering that the comic book that Holden and Banky were writing based on them is about to be made into a Hollywood movie. When they can’t seem to get their cut from the movie sale, they decide it’s time for a road trip from Jersey to Hollywood to stop the film from getting made.
Smith was at least smart enough to know that his Jay and Silent Bob characters weren’t going to be enough to carry a film. With his eyes more firmly set on some kind of commercial success, he decided to pack the film with tons of big name cameos. Look hard enough and you’ll find the likes of Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, George Carlin, Judd Nelson, Jon Stewart, Chris Rock, Jamie Kennedy, Wes Craven, Tracy Morgan, Shannen Doherty, and Gus Van Sant. He also placed bigger names in supporting roles. Will Ferrell plays a wildlife marshal out to get the duo. Eliza Dushku joins a quartet of latex clad thieves who use the duo to pull off a diamond heist. Some of these diversions are at least somewhat amusing. The problem is that none of it holds together, and Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes can’t carry the leads in a film of this size. You’ll see a ton of obvious film and television spoofs, and the film ends up in Wayans Brothers territory, where Smith is a trespasser who should have been shot on sight.
Each film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Each of the films is in full 1080p image with either an AVC/MPEG-4 or VC-1 codec. Smith himself admits that these films, particularly the black and white Clerks do not really offer much in high definition. There’s a lot of 16 mm stuff here, and the extra detail only reveals the flaws of Smith’s art house low budget film tactics. None of these films were ever about image quality, and none of them shine here. Jay and Silent Bob looks better than the other two with stronger colors and a sharper image. None of this matters, however, in the low tech world of Kevin Smith.
The audio is DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio presentations deliver dialog. That’s all there really is here.
Oh What A Lovely Tea Party – The Making Of Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back: HD This making of feature is in 15 parts but has a convenient play all feature. In his intro Smith explains that this extra, while not a Clerks extra, is here as a sort of thanks for plunking down your money for another Clerks release. It’s a pretty much off the wall kind of documentary that doesn’t always make a lot of sense.
Clerks Lost Scene: (10:56) HD Ever wonder what exactly happened inside the funeral parlor when Dante and Randall go to Julia’s funeral? OK, neither did I. But Smith wants to tell us anyway. This is an animated version of what happened there. It includes an intro by Kevin Smith.
The Flying Car: (8:14) SD This little vignette was made for an appearance on The Tonight Show. It’s Dante and Randall stuck in traffic talking about what you’d do for a flying car. Of course, Smith has to offer another introduction where he tells us it cost $14,000 to make. What in the heck did he spend the other $13,980 on?
Music Video: (5:00) SD Soul Asylum’s music video for Can’t Even Tell. Of course, guess who needs to give us an intro?
Clerks Restoration: A collection of short pieces on restoring the film. Are you kidding me?
Original Auditions: There are 5 audition tapes here with a handy play all option.
Snowball Effect: SD This is a 39 part making of feature and runs about an hour and a half when play all is used.
Mae Day – The Crumbling Of A Documentary: (11:38) SD Another Smith intro is followed by his film school project which helps explain why he dropped out.
Outtakes From Snowball Effect: Three deleted scenes from the documentary. PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
10th Anniversary Q&A: (42:09) SD Cast gather on stage for a look back at the film and field questions from the audience.
Was It Something I Said – A Conversation With Kevin and Joey: (18:07) HD The two talk about dating each other and the film.
10 Years Later Q&A: (27:46) SD Cast gather on stage for a look back at the film and field questions from the audience.
Deleted Scenes (25:01) SD 10 or use the play all.
Outtakes: (4:56) SD
There were no extras on the Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back disc.
Smith is an admitted film school dropout, but I think Smith has the dirt on somebody at Miramax. He has some compromising pictures or evidence of some sneaky extortion by a studio executive. How else can you explain the fact that they keep allowing him to make this indecipherable junk? I know he’s a hero to the couple of fans he has out there, but this reviewer finds that he’s just a “third rate Cheech and Chong”.