Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Silent Bob: Shut Your Pothole!

The necessary disclaimer - I have not seen "Clerks". I have seen "Mallrats" in half-hour overlapping chunks on afternoon TV. I despise "Chasing Amy" with the white-hot intensity of a thousand suns. I thought "Dogma" was OK, but it really doesn't hold up to repeated viewings, or even repeated flip-pasts on Comedy Central. I felt no need to see "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" or "Jersey Girl". Now, on to Kevin Smith's deep-seated mental problems and general hackery.
So, Kevin. You want to make "Clerks II". That's fine. We all understand. Really we do. It's OK. After all, you're 34 years old. Prime mid-life crisis age. And the Jersey Girl thing was a bit of a bump in the career road, wasn't it. That kind of abject failure is enough to shake even a stalwart man. The desire to return to the womb, to those halcyon days when you were a celebrated indie wunderkind, is perfectly natural.
Those were good times, weren't they? Back then, putting a Green Lantern reference in your movie was pretty hot shit. Not like now. Now there's Google. So on the off chance someone didn't know who Green Lantern was from actually being a comic geek, or watching the Justice League toon, or hearing about the Jack Black Green Lantern movie that isn't actually being made, they could just look it up in five seconds. From their cellphone. During the movie. In its first run. And all of a sudden, knowing about Green Lantern and putting him in your movie isn't such a big deal. But you pioneered that, man. That's your ouevre. If you'd patented making big stars talk about obscure shit that only nerdy writers knew about, you could retire.
Same with lesbians. I know I miss the time when you could put a beautiful, committed lesbian in your movie, have her screwing Ben Affleck by the three-quarter point, and still be considered progressive and daring. Not now, though. Damn shame, really. Now Spike Lee's getting in trouble for his lesbians wanting purely procreative sex. These are different times. Scary times. Complicated times.
So you want to revisit your youth. That's fine. But don't try to pretend you suddenly have hit upon the Great Sequel Idea, and this isn't about the Jersey Girl box office tallies or your own feelings of inadequacy. The "I wouldn't have done a sequel, but I had this AMAZING IDEA" excuse is not only rampant throughout history, it's one that, as a self-professed comic book geek, you should be infinitely familiar with. How many comic writers have used the Amazing Idea ploy to justify bringing back some dead superhero or other? How many of these ideas were actually amazing? I know you know. I bet you can cite issue numbers.
So don't feed us bullshit in interviews like "I thought about it honestly, and it would seem chicken to not give it a shot just because I'm afraid of fucking with the first film." Because after Amazing Idea, the pseudo-rebellious, I'm-no-chicken, go-ahead-and-call-me-a-sellout-my-heart-is-pure line is the SECOND most common bullshit creative types spew for going back to the well that spawned them.
What is the Amazing Idea? What is the movie so daring he would be a chickenshit NOT to film it? Well, let me put it this way. You remember Dazzler? You know, the one with the roller skates and the huge hooters? Well, I remember the one time where like Doctor Doom or some shit had Dazzler in his, like, metal clutches, and she said, "It's ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!"
"It's about what happens when that lazy, 20-something malaise lasts into your 30s. Those dudes are kind of still mired, not in that same exact situation, but in a place where it's time to actually grow up and do something more than just sit around and dissect pop culture and talk about sex. It's: 'What happened to these dudes?'"
Come ON. Sigmund Freud's rotting corpse passed on this case because it's TOO DAMN OBVIOUS. "Jersey Girl" was what happened when you tried to grow up and do something more than just sit around dissecting pop culture and talking about sex. And the world rejected it, fairly or otherwise. The only way this could be even more of a cry for help is if, at the end of the Clerks 2 script, Dante and Randal go back to the convenience store, and there's a big HELP WANTED sign on the door, fade to black... "A KEVIN SMITH FILM."
It's OK, Smith. We all understand. And we care about you*. But your first step is admitting that you have a problem.
*This sentence is, from a purely technical, factual standpoint, not actually true. But it's what you say in these situations.