People bored in their mundane jobs? Check. Rapid-fire dialogue peppered with comic book references? Check. Repeated use of hockey? Check. Filled with the same cast and crew from his last movie? Very much, check. Kevin Smith is nothing if not consistent. We know all the elements of his storytelling ways – but in a sense, that is his crowning glory. With each one of his screenplays, he takes us somewhere new, while keeping us safe in familiar surroundings – like an adventurous tour guide driving his own comfortable bus.
Kicking off his feature length writing career with the wordy Clerks in 1994, Smith established himself as a worthy peer among a fresh crop of rising voices, including Tarantino and Rodriguez. 1995’s Mallrats felt like a further development of the same theme – with two friends hanging out in a mall having been dumped by their girlfriends – but had a script that was bigger and bolder. With Smith also in the director’s chair, it featured his first collaboration with Ben Affleck, Jason Lee and Michael Rooker.
Using his familiar plot points across a long list of movies, Smith has since taken us through sexuality and relationships in Chasing Amy, religion and destiny in Dogma, Hollywood machinations on Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back, amateur porn in Zack And Miri Make A Porno, and fundamentalist horror in Red State. His latest, Tusk, is currently wowing audiences, while we all look forward to Yoga Hosers – now filming – which promises that most elusive of cinematic treasures: female heroes.
Of course, amidst these hits, there have been misses – but this is the thing about Kevin Smith’s screenwriting. He has a very specific formula, and it works. He is demonstrating that he can apply this winning formula to any genre, and any scenario, and the results will speak for themselves. It’s when his comfortable tour bus goes off-map that Jersey Girl-sized problems arise.