There is no denying Kevin Smith’s significant contribution to the current state of comedy in pop culture and film. Many highs (both literally and figuratively) and of course lows have been seen throughout Smith’s career spanning nearly three decades. His latest addition to the iconic View Askewniverse Jay and Silent Bob Reboot is bound to capture the nostalgic hearts of 90’s kids and teens. This writer may not fall into that category, however, being a die hard fan of this universe Smith managed to manifest over a span of time that truly holds up to this day. From Clerks to Jay and Silent Bob Reboot not one film has failed to bring happiness, laughter and a good old fashioned movie night. Thankfully, Kevin and Lifelong collaborator Jason Mewes have been bringing Reboot on the road to almost every big city within Canada and the United States, offering a screening of the film along with a Q&A (which yes, I had 1000 questions planned for) and Smith recently brought it to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre for 2 consecutive sold out shows.
In honor of this, let’s take a look back at the View Askewinverse, including the 2000 short lived Clerks: The Animated Series, and offer a comprehensive ranking. Now sit back relax and take a trip down nostalgia lane.
The one that started it all. Made on a lackluster budget right out of Kevin’s pocket himself, there is no denying what it is, Clerks is a masterpiece. Everything from its killer script to its insanely authentic feeling, the film is a charming, witty, vulgar, and hilarious story that almost anyone can find some connection to, And of course, the film serves as the introduction of none other than Randal, Dante and Jay and Silent Bob! With endless quotability from Berserker to Randall’s VHS orders, Clerks is probably the easiest film to watch of the universe as a standalone and is perfect for anytime. It is also worth mentioning that this has one of the most criminally underrated soundtracks of all time! Seriously, go watch it.
Upon its initial release, Mallrats bombed at the box office and was panned by critics. Since then, the film has gained a mass cult following and is more popular than ever. Though Jason Lee provides probably his best comedic performance ever as the man-child Brody, Jeremy London is nowhere near as likeable as TS Quint. It’s very clear that this was a major studio comedy trying to capitalize on the success of Clerks but for the most part, it works. When it comes to Jay and Silent Bob, this is definitely their peak film. To top it all off, the soundtrack knocks it right out of the park, featuring bands that will have audiences feeling like it’s the 90’s again. Mallrats is definitely a product of its time but it is still a hell of a lot of fun. Stan Lee, who appears in the film, claimed it was his favorite movie ever to work on.
Chasing Amy (1997)
Chasing Amy not only proved that Kevin Smith is a serious filmmaker, but it also proved how this writer is a softie for a good love story. This film is a masterpiece about love and identity filled with plenty of Smith-isms. This is most definitely the most mature and heavy film of the Askewniverse, but it also just might be the best… Featuring Ben Affleck’s arguably best performance which is saying a lot and terrific chemistry with Joey Lauren Adams and Jason Lee, the film tugs at heartstrings and tickles funny bones. Meanwhile, its story is more relevant than ever in today’s LGBT positive society in a non-forceful way. To anyone who hasn’t seen this, watch it…like…now. Though this one barely features Jay and Silent Bob, when it does, audiences be in for a sweet surprise.
Upon first viewing, Dogma was iffy. It was hard to determine if it was good or bad therefore this wasn’t a first Askew choice to re-watch. It would fare much better after a later viewing. As a production, story, and cast, this film is most definitely the most grand with performances from Ben Aflleck, Matt Damon, Chris Rock, Salma Hayek, and the late Alan Rickman yet it is also the least authentic. While it’s evident what Smith was going for with Dogma, it works very well. Filled with absurdity from all aspects from its humorous commentary on religion to some of the best scenes in the entire Askewniverse. Although not the best, it should not be missed.
Clerks: The Animated Series (2000)
Clerks: The Animated Series was a mixed bag. It’s definitely cool to see what could have been a fun concept with Dante and Randall getting into these crazy situations. But it mainly just felt nothing like what Smith had ever done before while having studio interference written all over it. The series is worth it for diehard fans to check out or to have on in the background but for anyone else, it’s not worth the time.
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001)
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back is definitely a product of its time that still holds up today. For those who grew up with the film it will always be nostalgic to look back as many of the film’s dialog and themes are more relevant than ever. The film is over the top, full of laughs, and is just a really fun time. Bringing together every single Kevin Smith film up to that point, Strike Back is definitely one that cannot be missed for any true Askew fans.
Clerks 2 (2006)
Clerks 2 is arguably the best sequel ever made to any movie ever. It brings all the charm and laughter and underlying tones of the original Clerks without seeming repetitive or overdone at all. Everything from the colors, the dark comedy, and the messages about life being what you make it make this film a worthy sequel that is certainly on par with its predecessor.
Jay And Silent Bob Reboot (2019)
At this point, Jay And Silent Bob Reboot is purely fan service. Those who didn’t like any of Smiths past films are probably going to hate this one even more. Reboot did what it set out to do almost flawlessly, bringing together all of the Askew films on such a grand scale while still managing to keep its characters who are all now mid 40’s early 50’s fresh and fun to see again. Not only does this film wrap up the series up this point, it sets up where it can go from here (Mallrats 2 and Clerks 3 are for sure coming). Unlike what many may expect from a film about two stoners, Reboot is filled with the most heart since Chasing Amy, mainly thanks to Smith’s daughter Harley-Quinn who showed that she knows how to follow in the footsteps of her great father. Plus seeing this is a sold out crowd of die hard fans with Kevin Smith himself made it 100000x better.
These films are obviously not cinematic masterpieces or the next Academy Award winners but in the end, are fun, sweet, and a good time. Those high ratings were not based on any technical or critical criteria as that’s not why these films were watched but rather, they were based on their level of enjoyment.
8. Clerks: The Animated Series (65%)
7. Dogma (96%)
6. Mallrats (97%)
5. Clerks 2 (98%)
4. Jay and Silent Bob Reboot (99%)
3. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (99%)
2. Clerks (100%)
1. Chasing Amy (100%)
Clerks and Chasing Amy may be tied for #1 but in all honestly, it truly depends on what mood one is going for. Those who want to be happy and have a fun yet morbid time, go for Clerks, while those who simply want to ball their eyes out will not go wrong with Chasing Amy.
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