HomeMoviesThe View Askewniverse: Ranking Kevin Smith's Films

The View Askewniverse: Ranking Kevin Smith’s Films

Kevin Smith at the Jay & Silent Bob Reboot Road Show at The Paramount Theatre in Asbury Park, NJ in Fall 2019. Photo Credit: Al Mannarino/The Pop Break

Two years ago, I tackled one of our most prolific directors, Steven Spielberg, and ranked all his films. Last year, I took a look at the kooky world of Tim Burton. Now, in 2020, the natural progression is, of course (drumroll please)…Kevin Smith. Yes, the stoner (not so) fat man who built his own universe on Jay & Silent Bob’s dick and fart jokes. It is no surprise to people who know me that Kev is my favorite director and writer, a man who single-handedly crafted the way I speak and tell jokes. But does that mean everything he does has been perfect? Well, strap in, grab your doobie snacks and welcome to my ranking of Kevin Smith’s Films.

13. Cop Out (2010)

The story goes, Smith wanted to work with Bruce Willis after Live Free or Die Hard (that should have been his first clue). Then, Bruce couldn’t seem to give a damn about Smith’s directing style or the script itself. Whatever side you take on the controversy (with one choice being correct), the movie is just terrible. You have some very talented and funny actors (Willis, Tracy Morgan, Sean William Scott) taking boring material and doing nothing with it. While his films are divisive, to say the least, at least films Smith writes are his own, and when he’s given a film as unfunny as Cop Out and a lead actor who doesn’t give a damn, you’re tortured with a film that was doomed from the start. Easily, the worst of Kevin Smith’s films.

12. Yoga Hosers (2016)

The second of the True North Trilogy (which will probably never find a conclusion) centers around two of Tusk’s side characters, Colleen (Lily Rose-Depp) and…Colleen (Harley Quinn Smith), as they go about their measly days in Canada, playing in a band and doing yoga. Somehow, they’re trapped by Satanists, then saved by Bratzis as they are about to be killed.

What are Bratzis, you ask?

Well, dear reader, a Bratzi is a bratwurst who is also a Nazi. Yes, you read that correctly.

Neither Depp nor Harley Quinn Smith are very strong actresses, the material is what happens when you smoke too much pot (there is such a thing), and, while Tusk is a stretch of believability, uh, where the hell did this come from? Yes, parts of it will make you chuckle from a pure what-the-hell-am-I-watching standpoint, but it’s the only Kev-written project I hate and try to forget exists.

11. Jersey Girl (2004)

I’m about to shock you all: Jersey Girl is a good movie. Yes, it’s ranked low on my list of Kevin Smith’s films, but that is by default, as most fans prefer the Askewniverse films more than this. What Smith did with Jersey Girl was to switch up his M.O. He wrote something outside of his comfort zone about loss, growing up to become a father and not focusing on dick and fart jokes—something critics said he was incapable of doing. Ben Affleck’s acting is top-notch here (yes, I stand by that), Liv Tyler is good as always and Raquel Castro, as the daughter, is spunky and adorable. This is also Kev’s best shot film. Unfortunately, he made it when the “We Hate Ben Affleck” Army was in full force. Trust me, rewatch it, it is as solid as I’m claiming.

10. Jay and Silent Bob Reboot (2019)

The most recent of Kevin Smith’s films comes in at #10, and while I know that will annoy people that think it’s better than Strikes Back, but I have opinions on that. This film is fun from start to finish, with callbacks galore and heartfelt moments that can only come with seeing your favorite stoners on screen for the first time in 14 years. But what Reboot lacks that the other films have is cohesiveness. It’s a little patchy with its pacing and, again, I like her, but Harley Quinn Smith isn’t the strongest actor. Still, there are some very funny laugh-out-loud moments here, some awesome cameos and a beautiful scene with Ben Affleck that can leave most fans wet in the eye.


9. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001)

The original culmination of Smith’s first four films, Jay and Silent Bob Strikes Back packs as much from said four films into a 90-minute…ahem, epic, about two stoners who venture from New Jersey to Los Angeles to end a film being made about their likeness…in comic book form. Is it dumb, loud and crude? Yes. Is it good? Well, if you love these films, yeah, it’s a lot of fun. It doesn’t have much of the heart the other films do, but Jason Mewes is a powerhouse, giving his best performance while also at the height of his drug use. Another film filled with cameos from a lot of famous actors, Jay and Bob is a fun, f-word filled time that everyone my age knows every word to.

8. Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008)

Zack and Miri is a film everyone thought would fail, with Kev venturing away from his Jay & Bob roots again to write a different narrative. Unlike Jersey Girl, however, Porno has a lot of the humor Smith is known for, with dick, fart, weed and crass humor aplenty. While Porno isn’t going to change the game in the comedy department, it is obscenely quotable, especially from actors Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks, who also have an unexpected tenderness. It’s a little generic from time to time, but the way two idiots make a porno, while also dealing with their own insecurities is subtle, yet awesome.

7. Red State (2011)

I was 100% sure this movie was going to fail. I could not believe Kev was going to revisit his Dogma ideals, but in a horror flick and without any of his normal cast. I also had the audacity to believe this man could not do a horror flick to begin with. Boy, was I wrong. Smith took so many chances with Red State, I don’t know where to even begin. From our three main (if you could call them that) characters’ willingness to have an orgy with a woman, to their kidnapping, to Michael Parks’ terrifying portrayal of a Fred Phelps-like character, to the rapture, Red State has more twists and turns than an episode of Lost. Just when you think it’s heading into religious sacrifice territory, John Goodman shows up and turns the film from a Westboro Baptist Church horror film to a Waco inspired western. I don’t jest when I say this is one of the most frightening films I’ve ever seen. Extra points go to the film’s reception, where the Westboro Baptist Church actually protested it for being inappropriate.

6. Clerks II (2006)

Clerks II is a Top 10 Best Sequel of all time. Yes, you heard that correctly. While it can be argued that every film in the View Askewniverse is a sequel, this was the first “true” sequel of Kevin Smith’s films. Dante (Brian O’Halloran) and Randal (Jeff Anderson) find themselves the same slackers they were in Clerks, but in their mid-30s and working at a fast food joint. While Clerks II offers more variety in the cinematography department, we get the same two lovable doofuses cracking wise about Star Wars and sex. Throw in a little light racism, a donkey show, Jesus-loving stoners, semen and mayonnaise comparisons and an absolute thrashing of The Lord of the Rings, and you get one of the most obscene Jay & Bob films from the catalog. More bonus points for this being filmed in my hometown (Buena Park, CA, represent) and also “starring” one of my best friends.

5. Tusk (2014)

I can hear you all now. “WHAT?! Tusk is sooooo bad!” OK, but you’re wrong, though. Tusk is actually in-your-face brilliant, with clever writing and a plot so insane, you’d think the guy who wrote it smoked way too much pot (wink, wink). Equal parts horrifying and hilarious, Tusk sees the return of Michael Parks, as he plays a lonely millionaire looking for companionship he hasn’t had since he was lost at sea with a walrus. A very arrogant and douchey Justin Long stumbles upon him, hoping to hear stories for his podcast, is soon drugged and mutilated into a half human, half walrus. It’s morbidly funny, with touches of the Jay & Bob Kev mixed in with the Red State Kev. What more did you expect from a movie called Tusk with a man’s face sporting walrus teeth on the poster?

4. Dogma (1999)

One has to wonder just how much blasphemy a Catholic man can put on film before God starts to take notice. Enter Dogma. While Red State looks at the extreme of what religion offers, Dogma hits on the more everyday problems, from personal belief, to loss, to acceptance and even death. Heavy stuff for an early Smith film. What makes Dogma stand out, though, is its subtle exploration of all of this hidden behind more common toilet humor from our two favorite stoners, Jay (Mewes) & Bob (Smith), a darkly cynical voice of God (Alan Rickman’s Metatron) and lesser known religious icons.

Dogma is just as blasphemous as the church though it would be, but not because of the use of God and two fallen angels (played masterfully by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon), but because it makes people question if they should blindly follow or make their own path to faith. It’s shockingly deep and is responsible for making even 9-year old Tommy take a look at these topics (so, probably not a good thing). And if that’s too heavy for you, the film also levels you with Ski-Ball and a poop monster.

3. Clerks (1994)

The one that started it all! 1994’s Clerks was the start of Kevin Smith’s career, the genesis of Jay & Silent Bob and, I’m convinced, the reason Seth McFarlane created Family Guy. Chock full of references and callbacks, Clerks is the absolute definition of “indie filmmaking”, with Smith not really knowing what he was doing, essentially just filming he and his friends talking, with one singular camera shot, spouting off jokes about Star Wars, Jaws and Navy Seals. There is nothing incredibly astounding about Clerks—and that’s what makes it so great. It takes two slackers on a random day of their lives and just goes, starting a universe that has been loved for nearly 30 years while also crafting a generation’s entire catalog of humor.

2. Mallrats (1995)

I’m as shocked as you that Mallrats ranks in at #2 of Kevin Smith’s films, but hear me out. While Clerks was a man taking his daily life and setting up a camera to film it, Mallrats is the same, but with actual directing behind it. Kev took the things he learned (and admittedly a higher budget) and made another pop culture bombshell about two slackers who bomb around a mall while discussing comic books, pretzels and love. Jason Lee is electric, embodying all our inner geek. The film, like Clerks, is a reference factory with the usual dick and fart jokes from our loveable stoners. The film also has a better love plot than Clerks, while also having villains (Michael Rooker and Ben Affleck) for our heroes to overcome. I’m also going to go on a limb and say this: Mallrats is the most quotable of Smith’s films.

1. Chasing Amy (1995)

Oddly enough, the best Jay & Bob film doesn’t really have them in it. Yes, dear readers, Chasing Amy, the film about how a lesbian “needs a good deep dicking” comes in at #1. Amy is Kev’s best everything: jokes, narrative, characters, dynamic, directing, references and ending. Up until Reboot, it was the only film with an open ending, one that made the audience wonder where the characters ended up.

Affleck is a phenomenal douchebag as Holden, a man who falls for a lesbian, Alyssa (Joey Lauren Adams), while his best friend and business partner, Banky (Jason Lee), pines over their dwindling friendship. Everyone should be praised here, cast and crew alike, and, while the subject matter could only work in the ’90s, it’s the best and most perfect of Kevin Smith’s films.


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