Kevin Smith has carved out a distinctive niche for himself over the past two decades. With “Yoga Hosers” out now, here’s a chance to remind yourself of his entire filmography so far — and which of his works are most worth revisiting.
12. “Tusk” (2014)
In recent years, Kevin Smith has said his movies “aren’t for critics,” which feels especially true of “Tusk” — not because it’s a misfire (though it is) but because it’s so clearly a half-baked “wouldn’t it be cool if…” idea that actually got produced. “Human Centipede”-style gross-outs and an abundance of low-effort Canada jokes don’t pair as well as Jay and Silent Bob.
11. “Red State” (2011)
Smith’s move to regional genre fare began with this apocalyptic comedy, a vision of the end of the world that’s more whimper than bang. Alienating distributors at Sundance was one thing, but more damning was the tepid response with which “Red State” was met by audiences. There is one classic Smith moment, though, as an off-screen voice (Smith himself) demands that Michael Parks‘ end-times preacher “shut the f— up” just before the credits roll.
10. “Jersey Girl” (2004)
The first Kevin Smith movie set outside the fictional View Askew-niverse, “Jersey Girl” is also the first that doesn’t actually feel like a Kevin Smith movie. That’s not a coincidence, but the film’s problems extend beyond the absence of Jay and Silent Bob — this entry in the “irresponsible dude learns to grow up thanks to his daughter” genre is simply a forgettable rom-com that had the further misfortune of coming during Ben Affleck‘s “Gigli” era.
9. “Cop Out” (2010)
The filmmaker’s director-for-hire gig isn’t actively bad so much as unremarkable, with Tracy Morgan and Bruce Willis as mismatched partners straight out of countless other buddy-cop comedies. Though Willis frequently looks bored (he and Smith didn’t get along), Morgan and Seann William Scott provide their fair share of laughs, especially during a drawn-out knock-knock joke that’s much funnier than it has any right to be.
8. “Yoga Hosers” (2016)
The second installment in Smith’s “True North” trilogy doesn’t inspire much hope for the concluding chapter, but it does improve upon the first. Other than the “Brazis” (read: Canadian Nazis made of Bratwurst), this is essentially a spiritual successor to “Clerks” starring Smith’s and Johnny Depp‘s daughters. “Yoga Hosers” isn’t exactly inspired, but even at its most objectionable, it feels like more of an old-school Smith film than he’s made in years.
7. “Mallrats” (1995)
“Mallrats” is typically considered upper-echelon Smith by ardent fans, but there’s little in this sophomore feature that isn’t done better elsewhere: “Clerks” is wittier, “Dogma” has more to say and “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back” is more brazen. Still, as low-stakes comedies go, it’s an easy enough 90 minutes.
6. “Zack and Miri Make a Porno” (2008)
Smith’s most recent standout exhibits all the writer-director’s best qualities: vulgar but kindhearted sensibility, frequent callbacks to “Star Wars,” memorably out-there characters. It also lives up to the promise of its attention-grabbing title — albeit with more sensitivity than crudeness — even if it didn’t live up to box-office expectations.
5. “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back” (2001)
If you were a Kevin Smith fan of a certain age in 2001, “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back” felt like a genuine event. Moving the scene-stealing duo from supporting players to title characters was fan service of the purest kind; their antics here, though frequently over the top, are consistently hilarious. Hindsight may reveal this cameo-laden comedy as too much of a good thing, but at the time it captured a spirit that Smith has frequently lost sight of since.
4. “Clerks II” (2006)
Like most sequels, “Clerks II” was unnecessary. Unlike most sequels, it both stayed true and added to the original. Twelve years did little to change Dante and Randal’s work ethic, but the two slackers grew enough during the interim (and, more importantly, the film’s running time) to justify revisiting them. With Smith drifting in recent years from the kind of movies that first drew audiences to him, we may even be due for a third.
3. “Chasing Amy” (1997)
In some respects the most dated of Smith’s films, “Chasing Amy” might also be the best-intentioned — an earnest, heart-in-the-right place drama whose portrayal of LGBT relationships is very much of its time. Silent Bob’s most disarming monologue remains a highlight, and Joey Lauren Adams delivers her best performance to date.
2. “Dogma” (1999)
For his most ambitious project to date, Smith tackled religious precepts in exactly the manner you’d expect him to — which isn’t a criticism. “Dogma” is irreverent, of course, but at times it achieves a sort of grace. Who would have guessed that, for all his familiar characters, two of Smith’s finest creations would be Alan Rickman as an angel and Alanis Morissette as God?
1. “Clerks” (1994)
Whatever your thoughts on Smith’s more recent output, we’ll always have “Clerks.” Most of the now-signature elements introduced in his indie debut — the casual, rapid-fire banter and the endearing slackers delivering it — haven’t been bested. Smith maxed out credit cards and filmed at night in the convenience store where he himself worked in order to make “Clerks,” and became a standard-bearer of independent film in the process. Not bad for a guy who wasn’t even supposed to be here.