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Cop Out's Kevin Smith Calls Out Critics and Gets Slammed

by Anne Thompson
March 24, 2010 8:18 AM
9 Comments
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Thompson on Hollywood

Kevin Smith may be remembered not as a gifted screenwriter and not-so-great director and occasional comic relief player but as the guy who pioneered self-marketing on the internet. He was an early adopter, with movie-poop-shoot.com and other sites; his Twitter account @ThatKevinSmith logs over 1 million followers. He loves hanging out on Twitter, engaging directly with his fans. And they loyally show up to his movies. But there are only so many of them.

Smith, whose corpulence led to a much retweeted encounter with Southwest Airlines, is not a happy camper right now. I skipped his latest movie Cop Out, because what I like best about Smith's indie movies, from Clerks and Chasing Amy to Dogma and the unfortunately-titled Zack and Miri Make a Porno, are his scripts. I'm often disappointed by their rough execution--but Smith always makes me laugh. So why set himself up by directing a movie written to formula by someone else? In order to prove that he could--and break out of the Kevin Smith fan ghetto. (Another well-compensated Smith sideline is doing scatologically hilarious--and oft-YouTubed--talks on the lecture circuit.)

Well, Cop Out, a buddy cop comedy starring Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan, scored the best gross of Smith's career ($42.8 million) and a miserable 19% Tomatoscore. So Smith (aka Silent Bob) is now striking back--at whom? The critics (many of whom are personally fond of the guy). But having tweeted his feelings, now Smith's brought them down on his head. Worth it? You be the judge.

Here's the original text, strung together:

It starts innocently here, as he answers one fan query:

@coked_up_jesus "I gotta say that every day I hate film theory & film students & critics more & more. Where is the fun in movies?" Sir sometimes, it's important to turn off the chatter. Film fandom's become a nasty bloodsport where cartoonishly rooting for failure gets the hit count up on the ol' brand-new blog. And if a schmuck like me pays you some attention, score! MORE EYES, MEANS MORE ADVERT $. But when you pull your eye away from the microscope, you can see that shit you're studying so closely is, in reality, tiny as fuck. You wanna enjoy movies again? Stop reading about them & just go to the movies. It's improved film/movie appreciation immensely for me.

He's building up a head of steam:

Seriously: so many critics lined-up to pull a sad & embarrassing train on #CopOut like it was JenniferJasonLeigh in LAST EXIT TO BROOKLYN. Watching them beat the shit out of it was sad. Like, it's called #CopOut; that sound like a very ambitious title to you? You REALLY wanna shit in the mouth of a flick that so OBVIOUSLY strived for nothing more than laughs. Was it called "Schindler's Cop Out"? Writing a nasty eview for #CopOut is akin to bullying a retarded kid who was getting a couple chuckles from the normies by singing AFTERNOON DELIGHT.

And then explodes:


Suddenly, bully-dudes are doing the bad impression of him, using the "retart" voice. The crowd shifts uncomfortably. And you may impress a couple of low IQ-ers who're like "Yeah, man! Way to destroy that singing retart!" But, really? All you've done is make fun of something that wasn't doing you any harm and wanted only to give some cats a some fun laughs. It was just ridiculous to watch. That was it for me. Realized whole system's upside down: so we let a bunch of people see it for free & they shit all over it? Meanwhile, people who'd REALLY like to see the flick for free are made to pay? Bullshit: from now on, any flick I'm ever involved with, I conduct critics screenings thusly: you wanna see it early to review it? Fine: pay like you would if you saw it next week. Like, why am I giving an arbitrary 500 people power over what I do at all, let alone for free? Next flick, I'd rather pick 500 randoms from Twitter feed & let THEM see it for free in advance, then post THEIR opinions, good AND bad. Same difference. Why's their opinion more valid? It's a backwards system. People are free to talk shit about ANY of my flicks, so long as they paid to see it. Fuck this AnimalFarm bullshit.

Predictably, the reaction was fierce: from Devin Faraci at CHUD, Karina Longworth and Movieline, and all over Twitter. Here's a mere sampling:

@rejects I was under the impression weed mellowed people out. Guess not.
@rejects: I really want to write about this Kevin Smith thing but it's so deeply depressing to see a filmmaker act this way, I just can't
@scottrenshaw Kevin Smith? Armond White. Armond White? Kevin Smith. You two should have a lot to talk about.
@filmjunk Kevin Smith's about to learn the hard way that the internet giveth and the internet taketh away. This is amusing.
@scotteweinberg I know enough parents to know you're supposed to ignore a shrieky tantrum. COP OUT, indeed.
@scotteweinberg I'll lean into anyone who dismisses my profession and my colleagues with such childish ignorance. I only wish it was someone I disliked.
@scotteweinberg Film critics want to introduce you to hundreds of good films. Film directors want to introduce you to THEIR films. So stfu silent bob.
@brandonconnelly Never followed @ThatKevinSmith though I will keep watching his films (and anybody else's, for what it's worth) and still only like half too.

Here's a relevant clip from Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back:

9 Comments

  • Ashlan | May 22, 2012 4:54 AMReply

    It's fun to read "reviews" like this after a little time has passed, especially after a movie like Red State has been released. Kevin Smith doesn't need anyone's approval; he built his work with his own talent, and by building the right relationships over the years. He does what he wants, and he creates. He takes his mind and his hands and he creates, brings something forth into the world. His films will live on in the minds of millions, and the cellulose that gave them physical life, will last for his entire life, and beyond that into the coming century. I will tell my children about who this Kevin Smith was. But I've already forgotten the names of the outspoken critics that most recently drew his ire. For whatever that's worth...

  • magreb | June 24, 2012 4:10 AM

    'Cellulose'.
    I see what you did there. Lawls

  • MonikaW | June 24, 2011 3:19 AMReply

    I'v always thought that Kevin Smith listened too much to his critics, but I do see his point. Why should entertainment venues be judged by people who wouldn't spend their own money to see them? Why should the same 65 year old man rate both british gangster movies and Sandra Bullock romances? Why should critics pan G-rated movies for being silly, when they are clearly intended for preschoolers? I stopped paying attention to the critics long agon and I think Kevin Smith should do the same. "Chasing Amy" was his Valentine to them and that should be enough.

  • Will | December 1, 2010 4:49 AMReply

    I love movies, all kinds of movies, I hate people who feel the need to spew their guts out on stuff that others (might) enjoy. Making films is fun until you hear those petty people who deem themselves more important then everyone else, feeling the need to spoil a film going experience for everyone they encounter. What's the point, let people watch their flick and let THEM decide.

    That said, I LOVE Kevin Smith movies, he's the ONLY director who can make me laugh my ass off every single time, reaches out to people far beyond twittering; Evening with, SModcast, Walter Street Hocky Tournament, etc.... I adore every single film he's done, because it was set out to do just one thing; entertain! And I love the guy for who he is! And if you are one of those people that loves to hate him and his movies (or any movie for that matter); just bitch about it in the mirror, see if you indeed end up looking and sounding better then everyone else. Let them decide what opinion to have. Nothing is meant to be liked by everyone; chill the hell out please; de gustibus et coloribus non est disputandum...

    Actually; Cop Out was liked the least by the critics and grossed most... what does that say? That it's all colored bubbles!

  • Kevin Smith | March 31, 2010 8:33 AMReply

    Oh no! Another hater, er, "critic" hating on that mean 'ole sellout Kevin Smith! Kevin Smith films are enjoyed by 16-year-old emo boys!! Kevin Smith is has irrelevant to film as Colecovision is to video game consoles!!

    Sir, you need to get laid, or smoke up, whatev... life's good, get out more.

  • Sergio | March 25, 2010 7:05 AMReply

    PLEASE! He makes a lousy movie, it tanks at the box office and now he's become a cry-baby screaming...what exactly? That film critics are resonsible for the film's failure? He's gotten big priase from critics for his other films now all of sudden they donlt love him anymore. Seems to me that the real problem is that he's scraed now that he's blown his big change to make more bigger budget Hollywood films and is looking for someone to blame.

    And by the way though it way underperformed Cop Out is the biggest grossing film Smith has had to date.

    @ Alex what wrong with a white filmmaker making "hate whitey" movies? If it make you upset you're free to watch Birth of Nation anytime. which should make you feel better

  • Joe Valdez | March 25, 2010 6:41 AMReply

    I'm always amused when filmmakers rail about how meaningless critics are when they're getting bad reviews. By acknowledging your critics or hecklers, you're lowering yourself to their level. I liked Smith better when he was a filmmaker.

  • Crystal | March 25, 2010 4:58 AMReply

    Thank you, Anne, for posting the only coverage of this debacle I've seen so far that doesn't devolve into name-calling and hot-headed, reactionary commentary. Smith's tirades combined with the cancellation of "At the Movies" made for an unbearably depressing day in the world of film criticism if you ask me.

  • alex | March 24, 2010 12:14 PMReply

    Kevin Smith! No. We don't want you to hate! We want you to love!

    Why is it all White Filmmakers hate whitey. I'm only saying this because his next film is Red State and it's another cry-fest about how bad middle America is. Except that, after 9/11 and the murderer of Theo Van Gogh they ran like lemmings and barely give a mention to the those people cutting folk's heads off or blowing up people at the coffee house in Bagdad or any place in or abouts Afghanistan.

    Show some balls, film people.

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