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SONY

MOVIE INFO

Director:
J.M. Kenny
Cast:
Kevin Smith
Writing Credits:
N/A

Tagline:
Evening Harder.

Synopsis:
Kevin Smith and his sidekick, Jason Mewes, visit college campuses in London and Toronto to answer any and all questions the kids might have about himself, his films, and pop culture in general. Irreverent and spot-on, the program also follows the duo as they hit the streets with questions about Canadian cuisine, and Jason tries out his pick-up lines on unsuspecting Londoners.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.78:1/16X9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.0
Subtitles:
English
French
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 239 min.
Price: $29.98
Release Date: 11/28/2006

Bonus:
Disc One
• “Toronto - Limo Ride” Featurette
• Easter Eggs
Disc Two
• “London – Man on the Street” Featurette
• Previews
• Easter Eggs


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EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


An Evening With Kevin Smith 2: Evening Harder (2006)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 29, 2006)

One of 2002’s best DVD surprises, the original An Evening With Kevin Smith provided a delightful way to spend four hours. 2006’s An Evening With Kevin Smith 2: Evening Harder offers more of the same.

Smith goes to various locations to do Q&A sessions with fans. Whereas the original Evening consisted of clips from a series of shows, Harder spotlights two specifics performances. On DVD One, we see Smith in Toronto; this portion lasts one hour, 50 minutes, and 15 seconds. DVD Two features Smith in London and goes for two hours, eight minutes.

Both shows utilize the same format, as Smith starts with a quick intro but spends most of the night fielding questions from fans. While the original Evening took place in the fall of 2001, these appear to come from the summer of 2005; dates are never specified, but that’s what I figured based on comments.

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. In Toronto, he touches on writer’s block, his attempts at a Six Million Dollar Man remake, kiddie TV and Dora the Explorer, Ben Affleck’s acting skills, a prospective Clerks Sell Out animated flick, reactions to his stories from first DVD, his financial status, why he does the Q&As, t meanest thing he ever did, reflections on his dad, Mel Gibson going nuts, and The Passion of the Christ.

In London, Smith starts with a bitter rant about his treatment by the British press. From there he moves through why he doesn’t want to make a comic book movie and the gay overtones of X-Men, the gay “bears”, his involvement in the Donnie Darko Director’s Cut DVD and with director Richard Kelly, getting Will Smith in Jersey Girl, how he gets his cameo roles, working with Will Ferrell, preferred sex euphemisms, his favorite John Hughes movie and some comedians he likes, photographing his wife for Playboy and her reactions to some of his stories, the time his daughter accidentally watched them have sex and other family stories, his Coyote Ugly rewrite, financing for his movies, and his insistence that his daughter be born in New Jersey.

The focus on two different shows instead of a mix of performances is what separates Harder from the original Evening. I can’t quite decide if it’s a smart move or a misstep. On one hand, I like the coherence it lends, but on the other, if the shows filmed didn’t soar, that could cause problems.

And we encounter those concerns on DVD Two. The London show starts on a sour note when Smith goes after his critics. This tone seems inappropriate for the usually genial Kevin. Given how much shit he throws toward others, this screed appears hypocritical and out of character. And since it’s just not funny, it launches the performance poorly.

Though Smith manages to rebound after that, the London show never really takes flight. Smith seems tired and somewhat disinterested throughout the whole performance. Perhaps this reflects the behavior of the crowd. The Canadians are wild and hoot the whole times, whereas the Brits display their stereotypical reserve. Frankly, I like the English crowd a lot more, as they’re radically less annoying than the bozos in Toronto, but it’s possible their decreased energy rubbed off on Smith.

Or maybe he was just jet-lagged. One other difference between the shows stems from the nature of Smith’s responses. In Toronto, he goes off on many long tangents and monologues, while his London answers tend to be shorter and more to the point. Again, I can’t quite tell if this comes from his own feelings during the shows or if it connects to the crowds. Granted, Smith doesn’t usually seem to need much prompting to tell extended tales, but I do think the questions from the Brits don’t really lend themselves to long rants. The Canadian queries open up matters more easily for Smith.

Surprisingly, the London show features some material that will seem familiar to viewers of Clerks II. We see the roots of some of that movie’s gags, with the most significant coming from the synopsis of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Did Smith already know these various jokes would end up in the flick, or did he steal from himself and add them to the film? I don’t know, but he probably should have cut them from this DVD. Though he did the performance well before the movie came out, we’re seeing Harder after the flick’s theatrical run, so it feels like the imitator. The gags actually work better here – especially the LOTR bit – but they still feel worn-out since we already know them from elsewhere.

Because of these concerns, the Toronto show emerges as notably superior to the London performance. Yes, I hated the obnoxious crowd, and Smith’s overuse of the word “sir” in Canada got really annoying. He does this often with Mewes, but he just couldn’t stop in Toronto, and something about it became grating. This isn’t nearly as prevalent in London.

I liked Evening Harder, but it didn’t impress me to the same degree as its predecessor. Though Toronto show works quite well, the package sags in London. It’s still packed with many amusing stories, but don’t expect the level of consistency found in the first release.


The DVD Grades: Picture B-/ Audio C+/ Bonus C-

An Evening With Kevin Smith 2: Evening Harder appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on these single-sided, double-layered DVDs; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The simple production looked fine and displayed the original material acceptably well.

Sharpness appeared decent. Some of the wide shots came across as slightly soft, but those created no great concerns. For the most part, the image failed to deliver great detail, but it remained acceptable. Jagged edges and moiré effects caused no problems, but a little light edge enhancement appeared. In regard to source flaws, I detected some mild video artifacting, but otherwise the picture seemed clean.

Given the generally monotone auditorium settings, Harder provided adequate but unexceptional colors. The brownish palette seemed somewhat dense at times, but the hues generally came across as acceptably natural and distinct. Black levels were reasonably deep but not great, while shadow detail seemed a bit thick for the crowd shots. Ultimately, the image remained watchable but unexceptional. The visuals seemed adequate for this material.

The Dolby Digital 5.0 soundtrack of Evening Harder also appeared decent but bland. For the most part, the mix remained largely monaural. The front side and rear speakers came into play only on occasion, many in the form of cheering. Crowd noise emanated from the rear speakers as well, and we got a fair amount of split-surround hooting and hollering. Otherwise, the track stayed anchored in the front center channel, which seemed fine for this material. Speech provided the majority of the track, so the lack of sonic ambition didn’t create any problems.

Audio quality also seemed fine but unexceptional. Speech remained acceptably natural and distinct, and crowd noise sounded accurate. The brief instances of music and ambience also seemed clear and reasonably vivid. Again, Evening Harder provided a very low-key auditory experience, but the DVD replicated the original material acceptably well.

Only a few extras appear on Evening Harder. DVD One features Toronto - Limo Ride, an 11-minute and 12-second clip that shows Smith as he motors around the city. This amounts to a “man about town” program in which Smith chats with locals about Canadian culture. The concept doesn’t really appeal to me, but it ends up well. Smith mixes with the Canucks to good effect and this turns into a funny piece.

Over on DVD Two, we get London – Man on the Street. It fills six minutes, 32 seconds, and acts as a companion to “Limo Ride”. Mewes comes along with Smith as they attempt to discover if Jason’s pick-up lines work on the British ladies. Actually, Kevin has little to do, as this us really Mewes’ baby. It’s pretty funny to watch Mewes lay his mack on the Britbabes, especially since “let me get up in them guts” is arguably the worst line I’ve ever heard.

DVD Two also includes some ads at its start. We find promos for Bottom’s Up and The Covenant. These also appear in the Previews area along with trailers for Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Lies and Alibis, Dark Kingdom: The Dragon King, The Benchwarmers, Click, Dogma, Ringers: Lord of the Fans, Little Man and Fun with Dick and Jane.

In addition, both DVDs include Easter eggs with extra tidbits from Smith Q&A sessions. Disc One features two of these. Go to the “Special Features” menu, highlight “Main Menu”, click “left” and hit “enter”. This reveals a two-minute and three-second segment in which Smith and Mewes chat about how Jason views Kevin’s wife.

On the “Subtitles” page, highlight “play”, click “up” and press “enter”. This activates a 14-minute and 25-second Q&A excerpt in which Smith discusses his involvement in the Canadian DeGrassi Junior High series.

Shifting to DVD Two, on the “Previews” page, go “up” from “Special Features” and press “enter”. This opens a two-minute and 48-second visit to the opening of the California Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash store. Smith and various actors appear at a signing there, and we meet some of the fans – including a crazy one who flashes her boobs.

I enjoyed the original An Evening with Kevin Smith and I find a lot to like in its “sequel”, Evening Harder. A somewhat lackluster second half means it doesn’t offer the consistent laughs of the first program, but it still presents a lot of good material. The DVD offers perfectly solid picture and audio along with a minor roster of extras. If you haven’t already seen 2004’s Evening, get it first, but Harder is a nice second act for fans.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.5 Stars Number of Votes: 8
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main