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the film criticism aspect of cyber | by maryann johanson

question of the day: Should we care that Kevin Smith has sold out?

I’m stealing today’s question wholesale from the Guardian’s Film blog, where Ben Child asked recently:

Should we care that Kevin Smith has sold out?

It seems that Kevin Smith has accepted a job directing a film for a major studio that he himself did not write. It’s a buddy cop comedy that was originally going to be titled A Couple of Dicks, which certainly sounds like a Kevin Smith flick, but now it’s to be called, tediously and with all trace of a pun or a joke removed, A Couple of Cops. Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan are set to star.

My feeling after Zack and Miri Make a Porno, which I quite liked, is that Smith certainly needed to move on from the 20something slacker ethos, because the 20somethings coming up ain’t like us anymore. But that doesn’t mean he couldn’t start making movies about 40something former slackers. It doesn’t mean he has to start making studio buddy cop comedies, god help us.

So, do you care — should any of us care — that Kevin Smith has gone Hollywood?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me.)



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  • MBI

    Kevin Smith’s talents were always as a writer, not a director, so I don’t think this is a great move.

    Then again, Zack and Miri Make a Porno was just awful, a completely failed attempt to hew to the Judd Apatow formula which is yielding ever more diminishing returns. Smith completely half-assed everything — the lazy let’s-put-on-a-show atmosphere done so much better in “Be Kind Rewind,” the awful jokes, the completely arbitrary split and equally arbitrary resolution. Oddly enough, I liked Smith more behind the camera, with the “Star Whores” sequence and the formula-mandated betrayal unfolding with sad inevitability to the tune of “Hey” by The Pixies. I don’t know what this means for a Kevin Smith who doesn’t write the screenplay.

  • drew ryce

    I’m with MBI on this one. Smith as a writer: always (at least) interesting. Smith as a director: pedestrian and slow. Jersey Girl is bad because of bad direction, the screenplay was savable.

  • misterb

    Actually, I think Kevin Smith is best as a personality; his writing is overly talky, and too “inside”. He does represent the slacker segment of the population articulately, in movies and in person; I can appreciate that, but even his best movies weren’t great.
    He may hone his chops doing commercial jobs – he always needed an editor more than anything.

  • So long as he makes Red State, I’m happy.

  • Patrick

    Smith will unfortunately will always be the Rodney Dangerfield of vulgar comic films and film in general. And that’s a shame. He has more wit and insight and COMIC TALENT in his chubby pinky than Judd Apatow has in his entire untalented body.

  • Hdj

    He’s a good writer, but imo , he no longer represents New Jersey, because once you sell out your owned by hollywood

  • Mark

    I don’t think this constitutes “selling out” for Smith.

    To sell out you have to compromise your stated values. Smith wasn’t “indie” because of any bias against big-budget Hollywood movies — he’s very clearly a huge fan of movies of all kinds. I think Smith made independent movies because that’s what he needed to do to make the movies he wanted. He’s always done directorial work for hire — for example, he directed the pilot of the TV show “Reaper” even though he had no substantial creative input; we was also slated to direct an episode of Battlestar Galactica.

    If Smith is picking up bigger directorial projects, good for him. If he has creative influence, even better. And if that makes him better able to make the stuff we like — the movies with the dick and fart jokes — then that’s icing on the cake.

    (I’d actually like to see Smith helm a TV series; he’s mentioned that he had a chance at pitching a pilot for a superhero drama to HBO, but he never got around to doing it)

  • JoshB

    Selling out. Meh. My thoughts on the subject are summed up by a musician by the name of Keenan:

    All you know about me is what I’ve sold you, dumb fuck. I sold out long before you ever heard my name. I sold my soul to make a record, dip shit, and you bought one. All you read and wear or see and hear on TV is a product begging for your fatass dirty dollar…

    Kevin Smith is still on my cool list.

  • Mel

    I dunno, I’m a 20-something not-slacker, and Kevin Smith’s movies (the Jersey movies, and to a lesser extent Zack and Miri) resonate fine with me, and many of the people I know. Clerks certainly resonates with everyone I know who’s worked retail or customer service jobs.

  • Mischief Maker

    Kevin Smith was destroyed long before this by George Lucas. Once the prequels and the Special Edition retconning made Star Wars uncool for the forseeable future there was nothing left for his characters to reference over and over and over in his films.

  • Paul

    You know, I never thought I’d hear words of wisdom from someone also using words like dipshit and fatass. Lately, my novels have been getting rejection letters that can be summed up as: We think you are an intelligent and sensitive writer but we don’t know how to sell you.

    So with the novel I’m writing now, I’m framing it as something that easily fits into a market niche, but its just cameoflague for the interesting stuff. Then I took the first half to a writer’s workshop, and they told me the content was much more interesting than the paranormal romance I was trying to write. I’m not sure if that means my plan to sell my soul worked or not.

  • drew ryce

    To Paul : Son, do what you need to do. Write what you need to write then find a way to make a living at it. If you can fit what you need to write inside of a publishable paranormal romance, then so be it. Don’t worry about selling your soul. Your soul is safe. Nobody would pay a nickel for it anyway.

  • Ryan

    BTW, I think the title of the movie was changed back to A Couple of Dicks.

  • Clerks certainly resonates with everyone I know who’s worked retail or customer service jobs.

    Heh. I used to work in a retail store and yet I always identified far more with the characters in The Shop Around the Corner, a movie that came out at least two decades before I was even born.

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