Kevin Smith might not be the most revered director in Hollywood, but he has a dedicated cult fan base that loves what he does. He was also responsible for one of the first cinematic universes, dubbed the View Askewniverse.
Smith was tying together movies and their sequels with other movies and their sequels before anyone had even heard of Iron Man. He’s predominantly a director of comedies, but he’s also given us horror films and episodes of superhero shows. Some of Smith’s movies have been acclaimed by critics, while others have been viewed less favorably. So, here are Kevin Smith’s Movies, Ranked By Rotten Tomatoes.
12 Cop Out (18%)
This is the first and last time that Kevin Smith has directed a movie that he didn’t write. It’s a buddy cop action comedy (scarce on both action and comedy) starring Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan as a couple of detectives on the trail of a rare baseball card.
Smith and Willis famously clashed on the set, which resulted in a movie that felt very disjointed. On top of that, the script wasn’t very inspired. The characters didn’t feel like real people, the plot plodded along, and it didn’t end with a satisfying conclusion. The movie was a disaster from start to finish, on-screen and off.
11 Yoga Hosers (22%)
The second installment in what Kevin Smith is calling his “True North trilogy” (three vaguely connected horror-comedies set in Canada) is even zanier than the first – and the first involved a guy getting turned into a walrus!
Yoga Hosers stars Smith’s daughter Harley Quinn Smith and Johnny Depp’s daughter Lily-Rose Depp as a pair of convenience store clerks (both named Colleen) who have to fend off a horde of Nazi sausages. The movie was panned by critics, who felt that Smith’s downfall was self-indulgence and laziness, but let’s face it: a movie about Nazi sausages is never going to be boring.
10 Jersey Girl (42%)
This was Kevin Smith’s attempt to pivot his career towards more audience-friendly material. He’d built up a niche fan base with comedies that were crass, crude, and filled with expletives. Jersey Girl was an attempt at a heartwarming Hollywood romcom.
It stars Ben Affleck as a widowed single father who reluctantly dips his toe back in the dating pool when he meets an “it” girl played by Liv Tyler. The movie has its heart in the right place, but unfortunately, the most notable thing about Jersey Girl is that it was the first major motion picture to contain a joke about 9/11.
9 Tusk (45%)
One of the only movies to be adapted from a podcast episode, Tusk stars Justin Long as a podcaster who goes out to interview a crazy old man, played by Michael Parks, who wants to turn him into a walrus.
This was based on an episode of Kevin Smith’s podcast SModcast, in which he and co-host Scott Mosier discussed a Gumtree ad where a man had offered a room at his place rent-free to anyone who’d be willing to dress up in a walrus costume. The movie is as weird as it sounds, but unfortunately, that weirdness becomes excessive at a certain point.
8 Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (52%)
Jay and Silent Bob are sort of the R2-D2 and C-3PO of the View Askewniverse. They appear in every movie to provide lovable support. But there’s a reason why R2-D2 and C-3PO have never been given their own movie (well, not yet – give Disney some time and they’ll get there).
They’re better party guests than they are hosts. The same goes for Jay and Silent Bob. They’re fun in small doses, but a little tiresome when they take center stage. Having said that, the upcoming Jay and Silent Bob Reboot does look like it’s going to be a lot of fun.
7 Mallrats (55%)
Kevin Smith’s sophomore effort failed to drum up the same critical acclaim as his directorial debut. Where Clerks was about a bunch of people talking in a convenience store, Mallrats was about a bunch of people talking in a mall. In theory, anyone who liked Clerks should like Mallrats.
It doesn’t have the rawness of Clerks as there’s a lot more wackiness, while the larger studio budget allowed by Clerks’ success actually became its successor’s downfall. However, it has the same zany New Jerseyan characters with New Jerseyan dialogue, as well as a hilarious Stan Lee cameo, so it’s not all bad.
6 Red State (60%)
The first non-comedy directed by Kevin Smith, Red State is a thriller with horror elements about a trio of high school students who are lured into a house with the promise of sex and end up getting captured to be sacrificed by a sadistic religious cult. As a firefight breaks out between the cult and the police, these kids struggle to escape.
It’s an exciting movie with a strong hook and plenty of action. It’s not perfect by any means – its climax is resolved disappointingly quickly and the stakes escalate rapidly at the start and stay at the same place for the rest of the movie – but it is an enjoyable thriller.
5 Clerks II (63%)
The sequel to Kevin Smith’s directorial debut swapped the black-and-white film for color and swapped the convenience store setting for a fast-food restaurant. It begins with the store from the first one burning down and Dante and Randall taking jobs at a fast food place called Mooby’s.
This time around, even worse things happen to the poor guys, but it leads them to even greater emotional resolutions than the first one, too. Sadly, it looks as though Clerks III has been called off for good and we’ll never get to see the Clerks trilogy concluded, but at least this one left the characters in a good place.
4 Zack and Miri Make a Porno (65%)
Kevin Smith hoped that Zack and Miri Make a Porno would be his first big box office hit because it had a high-concept premise and two members of the Apatow company of actors – Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks – in the lead roles.
Alas, thanks to a reserved marketing campaign and the fact that most theaters couldn’t even name the movie, it performed as well as Smith’s other movies (a middling response; not a bomb, but not a smash hit by any means). It’s a shame because the movie found the perfect balance between mainstream Hollywood comedy and idiosyncratic Kevin Smith romp for the first time in the director’s career.
3 Dogma (67%)
A passion project of sorts for Kevin Smith, who was raised a devout Catholic, Dogma tells the tale of two fallen angels who try to get back into Heaven based on a loophole in God’s rules, but since such a loophole would prove that God is fallible, their success could undo the history of all creation.
The film inspired protests from Christian groups (some of which Smith attended in disguise as a joke). It takes on the subject of religion in a comical, but ultimately respectful way. Everyone in the ensemble cast – from George Carlin to Alan Rickman to Alanis Morrisette as God – is fantastic.
2 Chasing Amy (87%)
The premise of Chasing Amy makes it sound like a crass, juvenile, high-concept romantic comedy. It’s about a comic book artist who falls in love with a girl, only to be devastated when he finds out she’s a lesbian. However, in the hands of Kevin Smith, this is actually a poignant reflection on sexual identity and human relationships.
Holden and Alyssa are a proxy for any pair where one person wants to be with the other, but due to uncontrollable circumstances, they just can’t be. Chasing Amy introduced audiences to some key players in the View Askewniverse, not to mention some cult icons of the ‘90s.
1 Clerks (88%)
The movie that made Kevin Smith’s career remains his best-reviewed work. It’s a comedy set over the course of one really bad day in a convenience store clerk’s life, and the story behind the film’s production is almost as interesting as the film itself.
Smith maxed out ten credit cards to shoot it; he shot it on black-and-white film because it was cheaper than color; he used the convenience store he was working in as a location, and since he was working there all day, he could only shoot at night (hence a running gag about the shutter being stuck all day)
It premiered at Sundance to instant acclaim and made Smith a household name.