Since creating 1994’s DIY hit Clerks, writer/director Kevin Smith has been one of the most talked-about figures in the world of cinema. Over the years, his fame has reached the uppermost echelon of the mainstream. Films like Chasing Amy and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back are staples of pop culture. And while he is undeniably good at what he does, not all of his films have been well-received. Today, we’ll take a deep dive into his filmography. Here are all 13 Kevin Smith movies ranked! Keep in mind that this is only our opinion.
13. Yoga Hosers (2016)
A spin-off of Tusk (another poorly received Smith film), Yoga Hosers harks back to Clerks in the fact that it tells the story of two convenience store workers. However, the parallels between the two end there: Yoga Hosers is, to put it bluntly, poorly written and unfunny. And while it may star Smith and Johnny Depp’s daughters, this interesting tidbit isn’t nearly enough to make the film good.
12. Tusk (2014)
Conceptually, Tusk is just weird enough to be something we’d normally like. The idea of a man being surgically altered to resemble a walrus is bizarrely hilarious. However, after watching the film, we think it would’ve been better off remaining just that: a humorous idea. It absolutely should not require 100 minutes worth of film to tell a story that essentially goes nowhere.
11. Cop Out (2010)
This was the first Smith-directed film that he didn’t write, and it shows. Perhaps if Smith had penned the script, he could have propelled the film to something more than just a generic buddy-cop comedy. However, the worst aspect of Cop Out is undoubtedly star Bruce Willis, who appears noticeably bored throughout. Apparently, he and Smith didn’t get along while filming, so he decided to phone in the role.
10. Jersey Girl (2004)
We have a soft spot for Jersey Girl. While by no means a great film, it was Smith’s wholesome attempt to ditch the vulgarity that marked his other movies and make something more accessible. However, vulgarity is something that he has always done well, and this heartwarming family drama just didn’t land with fans or critics.
9. Jay and Silent Bob Reboot (2019)
Like Clerks II, Jay and Silent Bob Reboot was not necessary, but it at least had the self-awareness to poke fun at itself. According to Smith, this film was simply an attempt to “play with [his] old toys again,” and in that sense, it works. There’s a lot of fun to be had, even if the characters have grown a bit stale over the course of 25 years.
8. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001)
Smith had been making View Askewniverse films for seven years when he finally decided it was time to move on. (Obviously, this didn’t last, as Clerks II was released only five years later.) He wanted the final VA film to be something special, so he put Jay and Silent Bob (side characters in all VA films) front and center. There isn’t much that can be said about Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back other than it’s exactly what you would want from a VA film. Filled to the brim with humor that’s as clever as it is dirty, it is the film equivalent of candy—maybe not good for you, but delicious in small doses.
7. Clerks II (2006)
Many fans will argue that Clerks II should be higher on this list. We wouldn’t go as far as to call the film a cash grab, but at no point did it feel like it needed to be made. There are some hilarious moments, sure. However, the over-the-top sequences (i.e. the donkey show) took away from the integrity of the first film, which was so true to life that it was almost scary.
6. Red State (2011)
Red State is a more successful attempt by Smith to deviate from his norm. Partially inspired by the real-life monstrosities of Fred Phelps, it is a gritty horror drama that successfully exposes the villainy of religious fundamentalism. Even Smith’s most closed-minded fans must admit that Red State offers something special that couldn’t have been replicated in a View Askewniverse film.
5. Mallrats (1995)
Perhaps it makes sense that Mallrats wasn’t as “hungry” a film as its predecessor, given the fact that Clerks had propelled Smith to stardom. This isn’t to say that he completely lost touch with common folks, but Mallrats certainly falls more into the category of simple, dumb fun.
4. Zack and Miri Make a P*rno (2008)
In our opinion, this is Smith’s most underrated film. Yes, it’s plenty crude (as the title would suggest), but what we love about Zack and Miri is that it has heart. Its balance between gross-out humor and a genuine love story is something that few filmmakers could pull off.
3. Dogma (1999)
Controversial upon release, Dogma’s criticism of organized religion caused the Catholic League to stage protests of the film (some of which Smith himself attended). However, subject to more thoughtful analysis, Dogma does not bash religion entirely. Rather, it pokes fun at religion’s fairy-tale aspects whilst simultaneously showing admiration for the benefits it can have on one’s personal life.
2. Chasing Amy (1997)
After Clerks and Mallrats, no one was expecting Smith to make a romantic comedy. It was even less expected that he would make such a powerful one at that. But Chasing Amy manages to balance trademark Smith humor with a story that is truly heartbreaking. We were close to giving it the number one spot on this list. But it was just narrowly beaten by, yes, you guessed it…
1. Clerks (1994)
Yes, Clerks is hilarious. But its comedy isn’t the only thing that makes it so special. It is a rare reflection of the human experience; it is less a film about its characters and more a film about people in general. Anyone who’s ever been working class (which is most of us) will relate to the plight of Dante and Randall. Its low budget only augments this authenticity. At the time of its release, Smith himself was a convenience store clerk, hungry to fulfill his dreams as a filmmaker. And while he was able to escape the rat race, the film will always exist as a monument to working people everywhere.
If you were to make your own “Kevin Smith Movies Ranked” list, what would it be? Let us know in the comments!