From least favorite to favorite
10. ‘Cop Out’ – An awful buddy cop movie that doesn’t make use of Smith’s strength (as a writer) and highlights his weakness (as a director).
9. ‘Jersey Girl’ – A real departure for Smith that signaled the end of the director’s ‘golden era.’ His output would be spotty from here on out.
8. ‘Red State’ – Not a horror movie so much as a horrific scenario involving hostages and a religious cult. It’s no wonder that distribution was tough to come by..
7. ‘Zack and Miri Make a Porno’ – Not a bad effort, this finds Smith trying some different tricks. Some moments work better than others but this is alright.
6. ‘Mallrats’ – Many people like this movie a lot more than I do. I think it’s kind of mediocre, but there are some enjoyable elements like the day in the life of some slackers theme that Smith did well.
5. ‘Dogma’ – This was an ambitious story that gets a little caught up in its own twisted take on Christianity. For all of the information squeezed into the plot, there is a lot of fun to be had and some familiar characters alongside some big names.
4. ‘Chasing Amy’ – Not a movie I enjoyed the first go-round, this revealed itself to be funnier the second time through. The unconventional romance angle might be best suited for date night.
3. ‘Clerks 2’ – After some backlash, Smith returns to the warm embrace of what he knows best. Perhaps it’s cheap and unchallenging to make a sequel to your most beloved film, but that’s what was done. You know what? It was really entertaining and provided the perfect closure to some of our favorite characters. Of course, that all goes completely out the window when ‘Clerks 3’ comes out….
2. ‘Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back’ – Many dislike this entry as it focuses on two distinct characters who many probably feel are best suited to supporting roles. As for me, I found the willingness to focus exclusively on sophomoric humor without gimmicks like lesbian girlfriends, end of the world scenarios and shopping mall dating shows distracting from the fun. Jay and Silent Bob may be ignorant and disgusting characters, but the plot makes fun of Hollywood and is very aware of its own idiocy.
1. ‘Clerks’ – Without this, a lot of ’90s independent filmmakers wouldn’t have been inspired to write a small-scale script, buy a video camera, max out their credit cards and call in favors from their friends. It’s not Smith’s best film on a technical level but it overcomes so much to be funny and entertaining despite this. This just goes to show that you don’t need a lot going on in the plot or to be a competent director as long as you have a fantastic script. Very few films capture what it is to be a twenty-something slacker. The mix of honesty and absurdity has rarely been replicated.
‘Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back’
‘Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back’ is juvenile, ignorant and homophobic. That said, it’s also the most straightforward comedy that Smith has ever attempted. This simple story of two useless stoners traveling across the country avoids the lessons and grandstanding that many of Smith’s other movies feature. It’s just pure fun here. Snoogins.
After facing the rejection that was ‘Jersey Girl’ Smith retreated back into familiar territory. Sure it’s saccharine at times and self-aware, but it’s also really fun while being a nice reminder of why we like the filmmaker in the first place.
The first time I saw ‘Chasing Amy’, I really didn’t like it. Years later, I saw it again and appreciated it a bit more. It’s not hilarious and isn’t as deep as it intends to be, but this is one of Smith’s more self-assured works.