Written by John Kenneth Muir
Published by Applause Theatre Camp; Cinema Books
I remember reading An Askew View back in 2002 and loving the insight shown through the interviews with Kevin Smith’s friends and family. The big thing I remember about that book was the early information on Smith’s forthcoming movie Jersey Girl. A lot has changed since then.
It’s been ten years, time to look at the second half of Kevin Smith’s film work. And what a mixed bag of work that is. The PR and production problems on Cop Out have been well documented and the box office failure of Jersey Girl and Zack and Miri Make a Porno nearly sent Smith into early retirement. In An Askew View 2 we learn how Smith climbed his way out of the doldrums and created the masterful Clerks II and went on to create the underrated Red State.
Actually, I would be remiss to not mention everything before Jersey Girl. As a fan of Kevin Smith’s work I sometimes forget that there are people out there who do not know about his rise to fame in the mid-90’s by self-financing the movie Clerks. That story is a well known tale in Hollywood and one many a would-be filmmaker tried to immolate. Where An Askew View 2 stands out is in its telling of the View Askewniverse through a third party lens rather than through Kevin Smith’s nostalgic and in-joke heavy SModcastian lore this is his story as told by his friends and family as well as cast members and critics. It is all pieced together with love and respect and if you have never heard the story behind Kevin Smith’s movies this is a good place to start.
If there is a slight on An Askew View 2 it’s that Muir seems to be in love with the subject matter. And that isn’t such a bad thing. Why write about a subject that you care very little for? But still there are a few obvious omissions about Cop Out and the friction with Bruce Willis on set. Granted a quick Google search will give you all the anecdotes associated with that production and this book isn’t about the interpersonal relations on a movie set. It is about the inner workings of the man Kevin Smith.
Now I know that Kevin Smith is a polarizing character. Gen Xers like myself like his crude humor and sense of geek where-with-all but a lot of hardcore film fans think he is a hack director who keeps “going back to the well” of Jay and Silent Bob. Whether you love him or hate him Kevin Smith is a true Hollywood survivor and his body of work stands as a testament to the indie film boom of the 90’s. An Askew View 2 is a nice piece of reference material for both the Kevin Smith fan as well as the casual observer.