Saturday, 20 January 2007

An Evening With Kevin Smith 2: Evening Harder (2006)

An Evening with Kevin Smith 2: Evening Harder

One of the highlights of my first San Diego Comic Con convention attendance, back in 2002, was accidentally catching a Q & A session with writer/director Kevin Smith. The potty-mouthed Smith had a captive audience of some 6000 Lord of the Rings geeks waiting for a New Line Q&A eating out of the palm of his hand. I remember having chronic stomach pain from having laughed so hard.

Three years ago a filmed version (effectively edited highlights) of Smith's Q&A tour hit DVD, and it was as funny as I'd remembered his live appearance at Comic Con being, albeit with completely different material. One of the highlights was Smith's total indiscretion with regards to talking about his Hollywood experiences, and his account of working with the singer/songwriter Prince or his abortive attempts to work with 'glorified hairdresser turned producer' Jon Peters on a Superman movie, not only give horrifying insight into the way Hollywood is so messed up, but was laugh out loud funny.

So now we have a follow-up release, comprising two DVD disks from a more recent tour. The first filmed in Toronto, the second filmed here in London at a small West End Theatre. Unfortunately, it arrives bearing all the traits of the worst kind of sequel, with its biggest sin of all being that unlike the earlier release it's just not funny. Crudity and outrage CAN be funny, but only if there's some sort of punchline or joke to laugh at. This time out we just get the same obscenities without the laughs. To add insult to injury, when in London Smith seems to find it amusing to adopt an affected British accent to answer questions from those with a particularly strong Estuary accent. I'm sure American viewers will probably find this funny, but to the average Brit it's tired and unfunny the first time, never mind when it's still being done an hour after the 'show' has started.

Part of the problem is that the focus is much more on answering dumb questions from mindless fanboys/fangirls rather than telling funny stories. This is interesting if you're one of those fans who hangs on every word the renegade comic book writer/director has to say, but for the rest of us it's not exactly great viewing, and it goes on way too long. The obligatory 'surprise' appearance of Jason Mewes who has absolutely nothing to say or to add to the performance, other than to sit on a couch looking embarrassed, on both disks doesn't help either. The only real pleasure to be had after a marathon viewing session that over three hours of material presents, is that one hasn't had to pay West End prices to sit through this stuff being delivered live.

An Evening with Kevin Smith 2 screencap

The DVDs are presented in anamorphic widescreen in the normal 16:9 ratio (no black bars). The picture is crisp and sharp and the audio is .... audible - no mean achievement given the live theatres this material was recorded in, with a strong reliance on roving audience microphones.

A straight-to-DVD release like this is never going to have great extra's, and with a 'normal' asking price for a two disc release it would be churlish to criticise. Each disc has a seven or eight minute featurette where Smith does a 'roving reporter' routine with the local people of the city he's in. The Toronto featurette is the dullest of the two, playing it serious, and being very much of the 'home movie footage grabbed in the back of a taxi' variety. London fares better because the approach taken is more comedic with Jason Mewes interviewing random females on the streets of London with his obscene chat-up lines.

If you love everything Kevin Smith writes and want to know more about the man and his life, then you'll find these DVDs of interest, and the price is more than reasonable given the 3 hours of material that's on offer. But for the vast majority of us this proves to be a DVD release too far, and I wouldn't recommend it even as a rental. It's not really, really bad, at least not if you can cope with the four letter words and obscenities, it's just not very entertaining and certainly not very funny. You'd be far better saving your money for Clerks 2, which gets a Region 2 DVD release on February 19th, but is available on HD-DVD now (you can read my review over on my HD-DVD Review blog here).

An Evening with Kevin Smith 2 screencap

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The first Evening With Kevin Smith was very witty. This sequel on the other hand is not. I'm fearful that Kevin Smith: Sold Out will be even worse. Same thing with Zack And Miri Make A Porno, the teaser was awful.