Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 29, 2003)
Who thought it might be fun to listen to a tubby dude chat for almost four hours? I suppose it depends on the tubby dude in question, but in the case of An Evening With Kevin Smith, the prospect becomes pretty darned entertaining.
A simple package, Evening actually comes from a series of shows, not just one individual night. During the fall of 2001, filmmaker Smith – the man behind flicks like Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Chasing Amy and others – toured college campuses for “Q&A” sessions with students. This package edits together different occasions for one fairly seamless set, though jumps sometimes seem somewhat awkward.
For the most part, we simply watch the kids ask questions to Smith and hear him answer them. During the early parts of the program, we also get shots of crowds prior to the shows as they discuss their thoughts about Smith and their expectations for the performances. Smith also interacts with the audiences, so the presentation doesn’t seem as static as it might sound. He chats with the folks who ask the questions and he also reacts to some of the audience hoots and hollers.
Most of the focus remains on Smith’s responses, however, as he proves to be very chatty. Anyone who’s listened to his audio commentaries knows that he can talk, and he provides some very extended statements at times. Smith covers a lot of topics. For example, we hear about his early days with actor Jason Mewes, conflicts with Ben Affleck about the movies Daredevil vs. Jersey Girl, flak over Dogma, financing movies, his brief stint as the writer for a new Superman flick, and his encounter as the documentarian for Prince.
Smith goes over many other subjects as well, but those are some of the highlights. Actually, his material seems generally compelling. Even though Evening runs for nearly four hours, Smith remains lively and interesting from start to finish.
The only real weaknesses stem from some of the crowds. For one, Evening director J.M. Kenny cuts to audience shots way too frequently. I understand the reason for this decision, as the program otherwise could become very static; it’d be dull to just watch Smith for four hours. Nonetheless, the cuts occur too often and occasionally become a distraction.
In addition, the crowds include some really annoying characters. Worst of the bunch are the dorky Jay and Silent Bob look-alikes at one show; they belong to some college sketch comedy group, which may qualify them as the biggest losers on the planet. The shouted obscenities get old after a while as well.
The pacing seems somewhat choppy at the start, but once Evening establishes the different venues, it calms. That occurs mostly after the program establishes the various locations and doesn’t show pre-show crowds anymore. Smith sweats like a pig as well, which creates another distraction, but this doesn’t seem like a real problem.
Despite some minor issues, An Evening With Kevin Smith provides a very stimulating experience. The filmmaker proves chatty and amusing virtually throughout the whole long piece. Fans of his flicks will definitely love it, and others may get into it as well. Smith proves to be such an able storyteller that it’s hard to imagine anyone who won’t find something to entertain them.
Actually, I need to offer one caveat: if you get offended by profanity, you won’t want to watch Evening. Admittedly, I doubt many folks who don’t already like Smith’s flicks will express any interest in Evening, and if you’re accustomed to his movies, you’ll know what to expect from him here. Still, I wanted to offer this caveat, as the swear words fly freely during Evening.