So we’ve reached that time again. Below are ten movies I watched last year that I liked the least. Not all these movies are bad, but they all remain either disappointing or unremarkable. In descending order from average to awful…
I guess the warning signs were there from the off. An unfunny sequence right at the beginning gets our two stoner protagonists arrested, leading them to discover a movie reboot is being made, based on a movie they were the inspiration for originally. Yes, director Kevin Smith is back doing his nerdy comic book self-referential thing in a movie universe he created with cult favourites Clerks, Mallrats and the original Jay and Silent Bob Strikes Back.
Meant as a satire of movie reboots, poking fun at Hollywood, social media and even ‘woke’ culture this should have been a laugh riot … considering once upon a time Smith was one of the sharpest voices around. Yet the script here struggles to be much more that an egotistical tribute to himself. As a fan, that’s a damn shame too as what’s here with a plot revolving around Jay (Jason Mews) finding out he has a daughter, is fine but the movie struggles with clunky dialogue that feels forced and jokes that really aren’t that funny. Attempts at emotion also fall flat not helped by the mostly wooden line delivery of Smith’s own daughter, Harley Quinn Smith as Jay’s illegitimate daughter.
These characters are likeable on a purely surface level, and what they get up to is occasionally fun. The wealth of celeb cameos are enjoyable too with Chris Hemsworth, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon appearing. There’s just clearly nothing left that hasn’t already been done with this world and it’s like even Kevin Smith knows that by this stage.
Despite my liking of director Kevin Smith as a pop-culture icon and as a director, my expectations of this low budget indie comedy were considerably dialled back following Smith’s own admission of the movie’s less than stellar reception from critics. However I was still willing to give it a chance and what I’d seen and heard still appealed.
Two convenience store clerks (a Kevin Smith regular theme) both named Colleen (Lily-Rose Depp and Harley Quinn Smith) hate their jobs, wish they were singers in a band (and sort of are with their drummer Adam Brody) and long for something else in life, other than practicing Yoga and staring at their phones. Then one night the store comes under attack from a race of miniature Nazis and the girls find themselves the only two people who can save the world from a Nazi uprising … in Canada at least.
This isn’t a movie you go and see for the plot, as it’s bizarre and stupid and really just an excuse for Smith to throw in a lot of Canadian satire of Mounties, hockey, beavers and people saying ‘sorry aboot that’ all the time. It’s mildly-amusing but also a bit of an oddity not helped by mostly poor, cartoonish acting. Smith’s daughter is watchable but lacking and the same can be said of Johnny Depp’s daughter, and well neither of them can sing but I’m guessing that was intentional. Also Johnny Depp himself has an extended, near-unrecognisable appearance that’s typically caricature for the actor these days and certainly one of his least memorable. Much of the entertainment here comes from the Canadian in-jokes so if you’re not familiar with any of that a great deal of this will go over your head. The combination of Canadian and Nazi imagery certainly proved curiously intriguing and well, the Bratzi’s are so ridiculous they’re actually fun … and the climax involving a big monster is a lot of fun too. Yet it remains a movie that feels stitched together from ideas that should have either been fleshed out or left alone entirely, because really – who comes up with this material and were they smoking something at the time? However, this wasn’t as awful as I was lead to believe but certainly wasn’t that great either. Smith can and has done a lot better. One for the curious or die-hard Smith fans only.
I don’t know what inspired me, but I suddenly had a desire to finally see this cult favourite slacker comedy from the nineties. Kevin Smith’s brand of pop-culture and crude comedy has garnered him a healthy fan base with hits such as Mallrats and Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back as well as more serious efforts like Red State and Dogma. Yet I was a bit late to the party and never got around to this popular debut until today.
Randal and Dante are two bored clerks at a convenience store who spend their time discussing such topics as hermaphrodite porn, the ending to Return of the Jedi or which woman Randal should be dating from the two in his life. Meanwhile outside local small time drug dealer Jay struts his potty-mouthed stuff with best bud Silent Bob. This is funny, low-rent entertainment, shot in grainy black and white and with many funny lines and oddball characters (the guy checking the eggs, the chewing gum salesman…) but it’s not a comedy for the easily offended .. it gets very crude at time (…People say crazy shit during sex. One time I called this girl “Mom.”). Yet if you like Kevin Smith’s movies, you’ll certainly find much to enjoy here and the characters, especially Dante are well written and mostly realistic, even if some events stretch plausibility (the dead guy?).
A cult favourite it may be, and as the first movie by a director, quite daring – but the sheer throwaway nature of it’s humour and concept stops it from being the classic some may consider it to be.
When most people think of the name Kevin Smith, they immediately conjure up images of slacker comedies like Mallrats and Clerks and characters like Silent Bob. Yet he has also turned his hand to somewhat deeper themes in the likes of Dogma and Chasing Amy. With that being said, he has never really been known for horror or thrillers – until now.
This follows the story of three friends who answer an add-on website to hook up with a woman for sex. These hormonal guys think it’s their ticket to getting laid, and are soon setting off to meet the woman at her current residence – a trailer. Yet all is not as it seems, and before long the guys have been drugged and become the hostages of a local, notorious religious cult, lead by unhinged preacher Abin Cooper (the brilliant Michael Parks). At the same time, a Sheriff being blackmailed by the preacher due to some questionable nocturnal activities, calls in a local special agent (John Goodman) to lay siege to the cult.
This movie borrows heavily from real life cult situations like that of The Manson Family and Waco, and for me was totally gripping. The three teens may not have a personality between them, and their plight is somewhat self-inflicted, but the cult and their beliefs was believably scary and unpredictable – meaning I was always wondering what was going to happen next. Several times the movie surprised me, and some deaths really knocked me back in my seat. For the subject, I don’t think Kevin Smith offered any new insights, and just why the cult did what they did wasn’t very clear. Smith has previously explored controversial subject matter, and like his earlier Dogma, this touches on subjects that some may find questionable. Sadly there isn’t the depth to really get to the point on any of it, turning more into an action movie half way through, despite a promising opening. Yet with a powerful, creepy performance from Michael Parks, who also stood out in movies like From Dusk Till Dawn and Kill Bill, and a great turn from Goodman, who is always a joy – this was still entertaining. Also, with some interesting nods to 9/11 and how America has changed in the wake of terrorism, I was also left with plenty to think about.
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