“I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.” Al Franken as Stuart Smalley
1st of I want to preface this blog by saying I respect Chris and his opinion greatly, in fact I respect him at this point far greater than the gentleman this blog is really about. That said, and while I thought his blog on Red State (Here) was extremely well put together, I can’t help but feel he is missing the point of my critique.
It’s not a personal attack on Kevin Smith, his fans, or anyone else involved in the film. It’s a statement made from a simple place. I saw the film, it’s awful, and I stated how I felt.
My feeling in reading Chris’s blog is that he’s saying “Come on give Kevin Smith a break. He tried something different, it didn’t work out, but I like him so don’t call him out on his poor work.” I’m sorry but that’s not good enough.
Chris wrote “The fans asked for this film and Kevin Smith stated numerous times that he probably shouldn’t make a non-comedic film. If the film were to be made by another film-maker I would have watched it and dismissed it, but it certainly would not have inspired the bile my fellow wetalkers seem to feel a need to expess. This film respected its audience unlike most Hollywood blockbusters (Transformers series), and it’s better made than a film that Uwe Boll ever put together,”
Now I must say that any film that I watch I would comfortably tell people it’s bad if it is. And since I rarely have time to watch more than a few movies a year means a truly terrible film like this would stick in my mind and be brought up numerous times. Throw in that no other film, or anything else for that matter, has been as bad as Red State to me in recent memory and that largely explains my constant reminder of the film’s awfulness during our podcast. Simply put, I can’t get that damn thing out of my head, and am still flabbergasted I watched a film this bad from beginning to end.
That is one thing I must admit about Red State, as bad as it is, or perhaps because of it, it is absolutely compelling from beginning to end.
As for if I am attacking Kevin Smith personally, again, that’s just not the case. He doesn’t inspire that much emotional response from me. I say the man whores himself out constantly, promises more than he can deliver, then disappoints his fan base except those that are so enthralled with him they will forgive any thing he does, all while putting out mediocre or worse content and simultaneously mugging away at the camera hoping to charm us into continuing to be interested in his crap.
Is what I just wrote an attack on Kevin Smith? You may think so. I just consider it a logical observation based on what I have seen.
Also, I will say while I don’t have any emotional response to Kevin Smith, I truly dislike Michael Bay.
But that brings up another point. Comparing Red State to films of an egomaniacal filmmaker and another considered the worst director of his generation is again hardly a strong defense of Kevin Smith or the film. If I place a pile of garbage next to another pile of garbage it doesn’t change the fact both are garbage. And saying Smith should be forgiven because he stated he shouldn’t make a non-comedic film is also ridiculous because ultimately he chose to, and this after his last several comedic films weren’t particularly memorable either.
So my question is why can’t we just have people like Chris say “I like him, but he has no real talent” instead of “I like him, and he’ll show his great talent, this just wasn’t the project for doing it”. Perhaps I’d be more forgiving if it was a filmmaker in his early twenties trying something new on his 2nd film, but it’s not. It’s a man writing and directing his 10th film in his forties. And then pushing for people involved in the film to be considered for academy awards, which I can’t believe doesn’t feed his own ego. I long ago stopped expecting or thinking Kevin Smith could truly give us anything brilliant. This was simply based on the quality of films he’s put out and his writing of comic books. Honestly I even find his podcasts to be boring and self indulgent.
This brings us to the film itself. I sat down to watch it curious and hoping for a good film, but not expecting one. What I got was an utter disaster. Never have I watched a film with so many characters where not one has any quality to make them even slightly likeable, so it’s impossible to ever care what’s happening. These same characters never once act logically or organically to the situations they are placed in. The dialogue is weak, the narrative terrible featuring numerous unneeded and inconceivable plot twists that seem to happen only because Smith thought that would be cool to put there. The cinematography is amateurish, and the acting horrendous. That bad acting is not even the once again narcissistic casting of Kevin Smith’s wife Jen Schwalbach , but tied together but two of the worst performances imaginable by Michael Parks as Pastor Abin Cooper & Melissa Leo as Sarah Cooper, both of whom made Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of the joker seem nuanced in comparison. And I can’t even begin to figure out how the structure of Red State falls into a 3 act narrative needed to tell such a story. It’s simply too much of a mess.
It is a bad film. No one forced Smith to do it, and after completion he chose to put the film out there with his name on it. Kevin Smith and his defenders simply need to say it’s a bad film by a sub par talent and own it. And keep in mind if the attacks on Smith seem more personal than on others it’s likely because he has constantly put himself and those around him out there and combines it with his incessant shilling. If he doesn’t do that, which he obviously finds worth it for the rewards, he doesn’t get the backlash as well. So any bile inspired by this film its director is caused by how he has portrayed himself, and how so many of his fans are unwilling to admit the truth.