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Blu-ray Review: Kevin Smith 3-Movie Collection (Clerks, Chasing Amy, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back)
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Empress Eve   |  @   |  
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kevin smith bluray collectionKevin Smith 3-Movie Collection
Blu-ray Box Set (Clerks | Chasing Amy | Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back)
Directed by Kevin Smith
Starring Ben Affleck, Jason Lee, Joey Lauren Adams, Brian O’Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Release Date: November 17, 2009

Before I delve into the specifics about the movies and bonus content included in this Kevin Smith 3-Movie Collection, I’m going to let you know right off the bat whether you should purchase this Blu-ray collection. If you’re already a fan of writer/director Kevin Smith, then yes, by all means, acquire this Blu-ray set, because not only will you get restored and upgraded versions of three of his films — Clerks, Chasing Amy, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back — but you’ll have Smith’s presence all over this collection. That right there is reason enough to own this box set, as is the bonus material added for this Blu-ray release.

If you’re not already familiar with Smith’s films and you have no problem with intelligent comedy heavily laced with profanity, then you owe it to yourself to give these movies a try. If you already know that you don’t like Kevin Smith movies, then you apparently have no soul and are a lost cause.

The three movies included in this set are from the View Askewniverse, Smith’s fictional world with characters played by the same actors shared across all the films, tied together mainly by the two stoners, Jay and Silent Bob (play by Jason Mewes and Smith, respectively). Two big actors in this universe are Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, who first appear in Chasing Amy when they were still relative unknowns and return for dual roles in the bigger production Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back as their View Askew characters, as well as their A-list selves.

Clerks, released in 1994, is a black-and-white low-budget flick that was the epitome of 1990’s indie comedy and was Smith’s first feature film. Written and directed by Smith and starring the director as Silent Bob, the film revolves around a day in the life of two 20-something slackers: Dante (Brian O’Halloran), a convenience store clerk, and his troublemaking friend Randal (Jeff Anderson), who works at the video store next door. The duo pass the time all day talking about Star Wars, sex, and hypothetical scenarios. Most of the movie takes place at the convenience store, with humorous interactions with customers as well as Dante and Randal’s friends and girlfriends who come to visit them. There’s also flashes throughout the day to Jay and Silent Bob, who are dealing pot outside the store.

Jay and Silent Bob return in 1997’s Chasing Amy, where comic book creators Holden McNeil (Ben Affleck) and Banky Edwards (Jason Lee) have used their likeness for their popular comic book series Bluntman and Chronic. The two long-haired stoners only have a small part in the movie (less screen time than in Clerks), but it’s Silent Bob’s “Chasing Amy” monologue that really stands out in this film, which could be considered a romantic comedy, albeit a twisted one. In the film, Holden falls in love with fellow comic book creator Alyssa Jones (Joey Lauren Adams), who happens to be a lesbian. Holden and Alyssa become fast friends, but Holden wants more, but once he gets it, he’s not able to overlook Alyssa’s sordid past. Meanwhile, Banky is Holden’s brutally honest voice of reason throughout the whole relationship.

Smith based Holden and Alyssa’s relationship in part on his experience with lead actress Joey Lauren Adams, who he was dating at the time, which is addressed quite a bit in the Blu-ray’s bonus features. If you have a problem with the word “fuck” or are uncomfortable with detailed descriptions of hetero and homosexual relations, then you won’t last two minutes with this movie. But, if you can take it, trust me, it’s worth it because this is not the mindlessness of typical raunchy teen sex comedies. Oh no, this is an intelligent, in depth, mind-blowing analysis of life, love, and of course, sex. When the character’s aren’t describing the hazards of oral sex or how lesbians “fuck” each other, they’re engaged in the same contemplative discussions of geek culture that defined Clerks.

While I loved Jason Lee in My Name Is Earl, the popular NBC comedy he starred in from 2004 to 2009, Chasing Amy‘s Banky is probably his best role to date. After seeing this movie, it’s obvious that Smith’s next movie could have been (and probably should have been) one all about Banky; his scene about the four-way road with the $100 bill in the center is a stand out — friggin’ awesome. Earl‘s Ethan Suplee, appears in a few scenes against Lee, which was great to look back on.

Jay and Silent Bob became the breakout characters from Smith’s films, so it was a no-brainer to give them their own feature film with 2001’s Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. It’s here where Smith’s fictional universe goes big-budget fantastical action-comedy and leaves behind the indie 1990s darling feel of the previous movies.

Jay and Silent Bob completes the View Askew saga and is definitely a love-letter to the View Askewniverse, with starring and cameo appearances by nearly every actor from Smith’s previous movies, including Mallrats and Dogma. If you’re unfamiliar with Smith’s movies, you will be missing a ton of in-jokes, but you’ll still find it enjoyable as Jay and Silent Bob adventure from their New Jersey hometown to Hollywood, where they plan to stop production on a Bluntman and Chronic film adaptation. Along the way, they meet a group of smart, sexy ladies on a special mission, one of whom, Justice (Shannon Elizabeth), Jay falls in love with. They’re also pursued Fugitive-style by Will Ferrell’s Federal Wildlife Marshal Willenholly (a nod to Land Of The Lost, which Ferrell went on to star in this year in the big-screen adaptation).

This movie has some great actors showing up all throughout, like Ferrell, Tracy Morgan, and a nearly unrecognizable Judd Nelson. There’s also a hilarious cameo by Carrie Fisher and an even bigger role for her Star Wars original trilogy co-star Mark Hamill. (Hamill’s appearance in the film’s last act alone makes this movie worth owning.)

Admittedly, Jay and Silent Bob lacks, for the most part, Smith’s usual intelligent banter, but what it lacks in smarts it makes up in geekery. There’s references to just about everything in geek culture from Star Wars and Star Trek to comic books to classic television shows — the list goes on. One of my favorite visual nods is the scene at Vasquez Rocks, the same set used in the classic Star Trek episode “Arena”; if you look closely, you’ll see that the diner Jay and Silent Bob are eating at is named the Arena Diner — it’s little bits like this that really endears me to this movie. You’ll also notice that the film pokes a lot of fun at Miramax, the studio that released Clerks and Chasing Amy, which is quite amusing.

As I mentioned in the beginning of this review, this 3-movie Blu-ray collection is more than just the movies, as it contains tons of bonus material, all of which give you insight to Smith’s world and his creative processes. I know a lot of people skip over the feature commentaries from home video releases, but I assure you, those included in this set are mandatory. Matter of fact, after watching the movies with Smith’s commentaries, I’m convinced that he should do audio commentaries for every movie, not just his own. Seriously, you want to hear what Smith has to say. It’s insightful and humorous, and if you’re a bona fide geek (and there’s a good chance you are, since you’re reading this site), Kevin Smith is your kin… no, actually, he is your master. All hail.

Bonus Features

CLERKS

Of the three movies in this collection, Clerks contains the most amount of bonus features.

[NEW] Introduction by Kevin Smith
If you’re wondering why you should own a Blu-ray copy of Clerks, a low-budget grainy black-and-white flick that should be watched in the poorest quality medium available, Smith understands your questioning. Smith’s introduction is hilarious and again, proves my point that he should provide commentary on every DVD/Blu-ray release ever made. Does Smith have a PayPal account? Because after watching this intro I’m willing to just send him some money, straight-out.

[NEW] Oh, What A Lovely Tea Party: The Making of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back
This featurette is about 90 minutes on the making of Jay and Silent Bob, which will only make you love this movie more. In Smith’s aforementioned introduction, he explains that he got the studio to include the “Making Of” documentary for Jay and Silent Bob on the Clerks Blu-ray release so that consumers wouldn’t fell totally ripped off.

Theatrical Cut: Classic Commentary
This is the original commentary featuring Kevin Smith, Scott Mosier, Jason Mewes, and others from 1995.

Theatrical Cut: Enhanced Payback Track
This is an option to play with the movie with an Enhanced Trivia Track, which is pop-up menu with movie quotes and trivia.

First Cut: Audio Commentary
This is the original cut of the Clerks that was first cut that was shown at the IFFM and Sundance before it was bought by the studio and before the Sony soundtrack was inserted. It’s 104 minutes long and it was pulled from a Super VHS, so it’s poor visual and audio. It’s introduced by Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier, and has audio commentary from 2004 anniversary edition with them and some of the cast of the movie. There’s three different viewing modes the audio commentary for this cut: Picture In Picture, Full Screen, or Audio Only.

Clerks: The Lost Scene – Animated Short
Since there wasn’t enough money in the budget to film the scene where Randal and Dante leave work to go to Julie’s funeral, the sequence was instead created using the same animation style as the Clerks cartoon series. In the film, we know they go to the funeral and then get kicked out, but we never know what exactly happened there. Well, it’s worse they you probably imagined and this animated clip shows you exactly what happened. The clip is introduced by Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier.

The Flying Car
This is an 8-minute short featuring Randal and Dante in a car stuck in traffic, which prompts Randal to ponder why flying cars have yet to be invented. This segues into a hypothetical discussion on what Dante would do to own a flying car. This short film was created for a segment of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Comes with an Introduced by Kevin Smith.

MTV Spots With Jay and Silent Bob
A lengthy introduction by Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier explain why they decided to sell out to ‘the man’ with these TV spot created for MTV that aired these between videos and shows. These were shot in Jan 1998 before Dogma and feature the Jay and Silent Bob characters strangely promoting MTV. Good stuff, for sure.

Theatrical Trailer
The original theatrical trailer for Clerks.

Soul Asylum “Can’t Even Tell” Music Video
Sony provided the soundtrack for Clerks with the popular music of the time, which was grunge. One of the songs on the soundtrack was Soul Asylum’s “Can’t Even Tell,” so a video starring the band and the Clerks characters and settings was made. Kevin Smith introduces the video, and gives tidbits about the origin of it. Definitely don’t skip over this extra.

Clerks Restoration
This 3-part featurette is a brief discussion about the visual and sound restoration for the film’s 10th anniversary release on DVD in 2004 and shows producer Scott Mosier, who was also the sound recordist, at work, as well as the cinematographer David Klein. There’s also an “Introducing the Theatrical Cut” portion by Kevin Smith where the director promotes this upgraded version of Clerks, imploring the audience to throw out their old VHS copy.

Original Clerks Audition
Footage of the auditions for Brian O’Halloran (Dante), Jeff Anderson (Randal), Marilyn Ghigliotti (Veronica), and Ernest O’Donnell.

“Snowball Effect: The Story of Clerks”
A 90-minute documentary that goes behind the scenes of the filming of Clerks and explores the lasting pop cultural impact of the film.

“Mae Day: The Crumbling of a Documentary”
This was the first View Askew production, an 11-minute short that Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier made while they were in film school. The short has an intro by Smith and Mosier.

Outtakes from “Snowball Effect”
This is additional scenes that didn’t make it into the 90-minute “Snowball Effect” documentary, which is also a special feature on this disc.

10th Anniversary Q&A
A 42-minute Q&A with the cast of Clerks that was done for the 10th anniversary DVD release in 2004.

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CHASING AMY

While Clerks contains the most amount of bonus features in this box set, Chasing Amy has the most amount of NEW for Blu-ray bonus features of the three movies in this collection.

[NEW] Audio Commentary
Writer/Director/Actor Kevin Smith and Producer Scott Mosier do the commentary track, and I think I made it clear how I feel about Smith’s commentaries, right? This one is really good, as there’s a lot of personal details revealed. At some point they start talking about the Diff’rent Strokes episode where Arnold and his friend Dudley nearly get molested by a pedophile. If you grew up on this 1970’s television show, you’ll know exactly which episode they are talking about. Later, they are laughing so hard they can’t talk.

[NEW] Tracing Amy: The Chasing Amy Doc
Smith and Mosier talk about how the success of Clerks led to a big budget for Mallrats, but because their follow-up effort bombed at the box office, they had to make Chasing Amy on a shoestring budget. This 82-minute documentary details how the idea for Chasing Amy was born and how it was executed and eventually became a success.

[NEW] Was It Something I Said? A Conversation With Kevin & Joey
Ten years after the release of Chasing Amy, its leading lady Joey Lauren Adams and director Kevin Smith sit down to discuss working on the film and how their personal relationship at the time affected its outcome. The two had been dating when Smith was writing the movie (he created the role especially for Adams) and during its production. In this featurette, Smith seems totally fine bringing up their romantic past, but Adams is visibly uncomfortable with the subject matter, making this very awkward to watch.

[NEW] 10 Years Later Q&A With Kevin Smith And The Cast
The cast of Chasing Amy reunited 10 years later for a convention and this is the video of this event. Everyone seemed happy to be there and to discuss what the film meant to them, except Adams, who once again seemed uncomfortable.

Deleted Scenes
These were 10 scenes that didn’t make it into the final cut of the film, but seriously, they are awesome. There’s a scene with Banky and Holden at the comic book store that is just a gem. All of these are worth a watch.

Outtakes
This is essentially a 5-minute gag reel, mainly of Ben Affleck and Jason Lee trying to keep their composure; there’s also outtakes from diner scene where Silent Bob tells the “Chasing Amy” story.

Trailer
Original trailer for Chasing Amy.

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JAY AND SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK

This disc has the least amount of bonus features and has nothing new and/or exclusive to the blu-ray release. But, included in this Blu-ray set has the disc of Clerks that has the “The Making of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back” making-of featurette, which I talk about in the Clerks Bonus Features section.

Audio Commentary
Feature-length audio commentary from Kevin Smith, Scott Mosier, and Jason Mewes. As expected, the commentary contains a lot of cursing, but has tons of details about the film, which had a slew of cameo appearances.

4 Comments »

  1. Well it looks like I better get this box set too!!
    Can never have enough Kevin Smith in my life!!!
    Excellent reviews!!!

    Comment by Jerry — November 30, 2009 @ 2:55 pm

  2. WHERE THE HELL IS MALLRATS!

    Comment by jon — November 30, 2009 @ 4:23 pm

  3. @Jon
    Mallrats was put out by another studio (Universal), which is why it’s not included in this box set (which is the Miramax films).

    Comment by Empress Eve — November 30, 2009 @ 6:33 pm

  4. Another reason to own a Blu-Ray. Great review Eve.

    Comment by BAADASSSSS! — December 1, 2009 @ 9:33 pm

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