(Photo by Weinstein Company/Courtesy Everett Collection)
All Kevin Smith Movies Ranked
The story of Kevin Smith making his first movie starts out like the story of most indie filmmakers following a dream in the ’80s and ’90s: Maxing out credit cards, risking financial ruin all in sheer tyranny of belief that the majorly groundbreaking screenplay you wrote is your ticket into the business. Smith’s story ends differently than most: He actually made it.
‘Twas the right time, right place (unlike all those contractors on the Death Star) for Smith’s Clerks. Audiences and studios alike were hungry for outsider voices, and the guy from New Jersey holding a scuzzy black-and-white comedy was as outsidery as you can get. Released the same October week in 1994 as Pulp Fiction, Clerks set a new high for those aiming low, and thus the American independent movement of the ’90s was born.
Smith’s next movie, Mallrats, showed he was serious about giving voice to pop culture nerds, slackers, and stoners, throwing more references to movies and more reverence to comic books, to the point of roping in Stan Lee as a sage, secondary character. Smith had his most promising leap forward in writing and direction with Chasing Amy, and then took on a more aggressive front against the status quo with the iconoclastic Dogma. The organized religion send-up featured a growing cadre of stars willing to yuk it up in Smith’s unified Askewniverse (like Matt Damon, Salma Hayek, Alan Rickman, and Chris Rock), with Jason Mewes and Smith himself as Jay and Silent Bob a consistent, comedy presence. (Check out our oral history of Jay and Silent bob with Smith.)
The two characters were upgraded to lead status with Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, before Smith returned to his roots in Jersey Girl and Clerks II. With the Judd Apatow style changing the comedy landscape, Smith stuck his own thumb into the pie, mixing extreme raunchiness and sweet sincerity in Zack and Miri Make a Porno.
The 2010s began with Cop Out, a failed stab at Hollywood big-budget action filmmaking, and an experience Smith now openly derides. Red State just edged by with enough critics for a Fresh rating, and would begin a 3-movie string operating in horror. Tusk has its defenders. Yoga Hosers definitely does not. For his latest, Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, Smith hit the streets, doing roadshow screenings with Q&As city by city. Not only did that bring together his fans in community, but also played up Smith’s strengths as a world-class raconteur, whose gift of gab has helped him create an empire of podcasts and review shows, overshadowing his directing career in recent years. His next movie is horror-comedy Killroy Was Here, scheduled for a 2020 Fall release. Before then, take a look back on all Kevin Smith movies ranked by Tomatometer!
Adjusted Score: 23280%
Critics Consensus: Cop Out is a cliched buddy action/comedy that suffers from stale gags and slack pacing.
Veteran detective Jimmy Monroe (Bruce Willis) needs money to pay for his daughter's upcoming wedding, so he decides it's time... [More]
Adjusted Score: 27233%
Critics Consensus: Undisciplined, unfunny, and bereft of evident purpose, Yoga Hosers represents a particularly grating low point in Kevin Smith's once-promising career.
Two teenage yoga enthusiasts team up with a legendary man-hunter to battle with an ancient evil presence that is threatening... [More]
Adjusted Score: 49095%
Critics Consensus: A surprisingly conventional romantic comedy from Kevin Smith, Jersey Girl is warm but often overly sentimental.
Ollie Trinke (Ben Affleck) is young and at the top of his game as a music promoter. He is both... [More]
Adjusted Score: 50422%
Critics Consensus: Tusk is pleasantly ridiculous and charmingly self-deprecating, but that isn't enough to compensate for its thin, overstretched story.
A U.S. podcaster (Justin Long) ventures into the Canadian wilderness to interview an old man (Michael Parks) who has an... [More]
Adjusted Score: 57973%
Critics Consensus: Fans can expect a good laugh as the cast from Smith's previous films reunite for Jay and Silent Bob's last bow. The loose plotting and crude language may be too much for others though.
When Jay and Silent Bob learn that a "Bluntman and Chronic" movie is being made featuring their comic book counterparts,... [More]
Adjusted Score: 59618%
Critics Consensus: Mallrats colorfully expands the View Askewniverse, even if its snootchie has lost a few of the bootchies boasted by its beloved predecessor.
T.S. (Jeremy London) and his best friend, Brodie (Jason Lee), take a trip to the mall after their girlfriends break... [More]
Adjusted Score: 63186%
Critics Consensus: Red State is an audacious and brash affair that ultimately fails to provide competent scares or thrills.
Three horny teenagers -- Travis (Michael Angarano), Jarod (Kyle Gallner) and Billy-Ray (Nicholas Braun) -- can't believe their luck when... [More]
Adjusted Score: 70068%
Critics Consensus: Clerks II dishes up much of the graphic humor and some of the insight that made the 1994 original a cult hit.
Now in their 30s, slackers Dante (Brian O'Halloran) and Randal (Jeff Anderson) find that they must change their lives and... [More]
Adjusted Score: 73374%
Critics Consensus: Zack and Miri Make a Porno is a modest success for Kevin Smith, due in large part to the charm of Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks.
Lifelong friends and now roommates, Zack (Seth Rogen) and Miri (Elizabeth Banks) are buried under a mountain of debt. When... [More]
Adjusted Score: 65778%
Critics Consensus: Fan-focused to a fault, Jay & Silent Bob Reboot tries to mock the same audience nostalgia it's mining -- and pulls it off often enough to satisfy the faithful.
Jay and Silent Bob embark on a cross-country mission to stop Hollywood from filming a reboot based on them.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 72416%
Critics Consensus: Provocative and audacious, Dogma is an uneven but thoughtful religious satire that's both respectful and irreverent.
Two fallen angels who were ejected from paradise find themselves banned in Wisconsin. They are now headed for New Jersey... [More]
Adjusted Score: 91137%
Critics Consensus: Although Chasing Amy's depiction of queer sexuality is frustratingly clumsy, it handles an array of thorny themes with a mixture of sensitivity, raw honesty, and writer-director Kevin Smith's signature raunchy humor.
Holden and Banky are best friends and authors of a popular comic book. Holden falls in love with Alyssa, who... [More]
Adjusted Score: 92352%
Critics Consensus: With its quirky characters and clever, quotable dialogue, Clerks is the ultimate clarion call for slackers everywhere to unite and, uh, do something we guess?
Dante (Brian O'Halloran) is called in to cover a shift at his New Jersey convenience store on his day off.... [More]