Kevin Smith made one good film. For argument’s sake, we shall call this film “ClerksMallRatsChasingAmyDogma” (CMRCAD). All his other films, namely “Clerks”, “Mall Rats”, “Chasing Amy” and “Dogma” are just rehashes of CMRCAD.
Kev’s first film, “Clerks”, took the CMRCAD formula and applied it to the generation X slacker comedy genre. Following in the footsteps of Richard Linklater’s “Slacker” (1991), “Clerks” was a look at the dissatisfaction of menial McJobs. It also featured Jay and Silent Bob and a guy with a goatee.
The next film in Smith’s oevre is Mall Rats (1995). This time the CMRCAD formula was transplanted to the traditional teen comedy. With plenty of lewd humour, “accidental” boobie shots and pop culture references, it received little critical acclaim, but that’s typical of its genre. It also featured Jay and Silent Bob and a guy with a goatee.
1997’s “Chasing Amy” was the CMRCAD formula used in a bittersweet romantic comedy. It told the tale of a man torn between a woman who was allegedly a lesbian but didn’t act like one, and his best friend. Critics liked it even though Ben Affleck furrowing his brow and being sensitive is no match for any John Cusack film. It also featured Jay and Silent Bob and a guy with a goatee.
Then, in 1999, came Dogma a film that applied the CMRCAD formula to a religious-themed comedy. For the first time in a Smith film, the main character was female. Dogma also featured the most violence in a film, making it slightly reminiscent of Scorcese and Coppola’s works merging violence and Catholic imagery. Alanis was God. It also featured Jay and Silent Bob and a guy with a goatee.
Then there’s a film in the works, “Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back” and from what I’ve read of it, it seems like one last giant purge of the whole Jay and Silent Bob thing. No doubt there’ll be a whole bunch of characters who are related to characters in previous films, references to “Star Wars” and other movies, a few hilarious catchphrases (“I’m not even supposed to be in this movie!”) and lots of comics, too. There will also be a guy with a goatee.
Some film makers stick to a genre and explore within that type, making lots of different films with different plots, characters, etc. Kevin Smith does it the other way around. He experiments with genres, but uses the same plot and same characters. Nothing ever changes, but often that’s what endears him to his fans, many of whom are guys with goatees.