Kevin Smith is an interesting Hollywood anomaly. Way back in 1994, he helped kick off a golden age of indie movies with Clerks, a movie that cost him $30,000 and grossed over $3 million at the box office. It also earned rave reviews, setting Smith up as a writer and director to watch. But past his “Jersey Trilogy” of Clerks, Mallrats, and Chasing Amy, his movies largely failed to connect past the rabid fanbase he accumulated through being one of the first truly interactive celebrities on the internet.
His new trilogy, dubbed the “True North Trilogy” has included the critically panned Tusk and the new release Yoga Hosers, which is also getting terrible reviews. A third movie called Moose Jaws (“Basically Jaws with a Moose,” Smith helpfully explained) is set to start filming soon, and at this point, is it a surprise that critics don’t have high hopes?
Kevin Smith has been pretty salty about the reception he’s been receiving from the film community, but there are signs he’s coming around to the fact that his refusal to accept criticism has turned him into something of a jaded cynic. Apparently the entire strange third act of Yoga Hosers was an allegory for that, which Smith revealed on Twitter after being “bummed” about Yoga Hosers reviews that didn’t “get it” (partial transcript below).
Kevin explains that the movie is really about how his daughter saved him from becoming a bitter filmmaker. Here’s how he ties it all together:
In the third act, we meet a crazed old artist who blames critics for his failures (and for turning him into a Nazi). He lets his art get so out of control, it becomes a golem he wants to use to kill critics. But the girls stop him and his rampaging art and save critics. This is all a metaphor for the story of Tusk. I am the crazed old artist who let his art get out of control and blamed art critics. The goalie golem is Cop Out and Red State and Tusk. The Colleens are Harley popping up in Tusk on the last day of our shoot.
To me, the third act of Yoga Hosers is like a quasi-apology to critics I fought with back in the day. Some of them will never let me live it down, but the gesture is there just the same — ironically in the movie of mine they seem to hate the most. So you saying I don’t care anymore would be like me saying you’re too limited to understand what Yoga Hosers is really about: it’s an unfair and almost ludicrous overstatement. I cared enough to respond to you. How many filmmakers you’ve written about (good or bad) have ever reached out to you? But no – I’m the director who doesn’t care anymore.
Sometimes I care too much. Like now.
Kevin Smith is about as subtle as a Jaws movie starring a moose, so the subtext may not have needed explaining. Our own Mike Ryan picked up on it rather quickly and noted “if Kevin Smith put half the effort into one of his movies that he puts into his War on Critics, we’d probably get the next Lawrence of Arabia – or at least maybe the next Mannequin.”
Sadly, it now seems Smith has spent so long navel gazing — and getting positive feedback from the hardcore fans who’ll eat every puff of lint he picks out — that it’s possible he’ll never get back onto the track that made his early movies great. In an ironic turn, he’s become a George Lucas type who lacks the people around him to tell him, “No, you can’t just hand in your first terrible draft of Star Wars Episode 1 and film it as is.” He’s Jon Peters insisting Superman fights a giant spider because he thinks spiders are the coolest thing ever, while most of the rest of the world has assumed the role of Smith, thinking, “What the hell is this guy smoking?”