Once upon a time, Kevin Smith was the indie filmmaker that every burgeoning young film geek wanted to become. The guy who maxed out a half-dozen credit cards and mortgaged his entire future on the hope that his talky, bare-bones first feature would take off. The guy who was able to capture and examine the ritual habits and daily conversations of incurable nerds trapped in various states of arrested development. The guy who introduced a nation to the act of snowballing.
A lot has changed since then, but Smith hasn’t. And that’s not a value judgment, necessarily, but rather an acknowledgement that he’s still an incredibly polarizing filmmaker, one seen as a gifted writer or a childish pedant or somewhere between the two depending on who you ask. (You’ll rarely get the same answer twice.) Even as he continues to transition into a fuller career as an on-air figure, thanks to his Smodcast network, Smith is forever one of the most debated ‘90s filmmakers and one that’s still trying to reinvent himself as a filmmaker. Whether those experiments actually worked is something we’ll get at momentarily, but at the very least, you can’t say the man settled.
So, with the release of his 11th feature, film/horror entry Tusk, drawing near, we figured it’s time to look back at Smith’s work, to compare his two decades of output against one another and attempt to determine what his best and worst movies have been. (Mild spoiler: you can probably guess the worst one, regardless of whether or not you’ve actually seen a Smith film recently.) From Clerks to Red State, we’ve debated them all at length and would like to present our definitive list of the best and worst of Kevin Smith.