The View Askewniverse Films by Kevin Smith

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Kevin Smith is a comic-loving film fan who in the mid-1990s successfully broke into the film industry with Clerks, an independent black and white film he had written and directed. This was made on a shoestring budget with money he raised by selling off his comic collection and using credit cards. After getting a distributor and becoming a surprise and largely unprecedented hit, it was followed by sequels that featured some of the same characters, all of which concentrate on his rude, but witty, wordplay. Some actors play multiple characters across the film series, often playing relatives of characters in previous films. Two characters appear in every film in the series, Jay and Silent Bob, who are drug dealers1. Jay is immature, arrogant and self-obsessed while as his name suggests, Silent Bob is his quiet partner whose facial expressions nevertheless speak volumes. On the rare occasions that Bob speaks, his advice is well-worth listening to.

As Kevin Smith's film company he co-founded with producer partner Scott Mosier is called View Askew Productions2, the film series have become known as being the View Askewniverse. Other films that his company have made that do not feature these characters, such as Jersey Girl (2004) and Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008), are not considered part of the View Askewniverse. Jay and Silent Bob have even featured in their own (short-lived) animated television series (2000) and cameoed in Scream 3 (2000). Although his films strongly reflect his style, Smith refuses to take the standard 'A film by' in the credits, preferring the credit 'written & directed by' as he feels that filmmaking is a collaborative process.

Warning – these films contain Jaws, nudity, sex, drugs, rock and roll, hockey, comics and explicit Star Wars. Other films by Smith's favourite directors including Stephen Spielberg, John Hughes and John Landis are often referenced. Conversations often contain explicit sex references and hundreds of swear words. Most films have met controversy over different issues. They are also all set in New Jersey, which is why they have also been called the New Jersey Chronicles. Skee-ball, an arcade ballgame created in New Jersey, also often appears.

Though the films contain explicit sex references and constant swearing they perhaps can be summarised by quoting the New York Times review of Clerks II:

'Clerks II' has a dirty mind, but its heart is pure.

Films

The tables below lists the main characters in each film. Characters in Bold are recurring characters, actors in bold show that these recurring characters are played by their original actor. Also mentioned is whether the films pass the Bechdel Test. This can be summarised as whether the film involves two or more female characters who have a conversation together that does not include or mention any male characters.

1. Clerks (1994)

Plot

Despite being Dante's day off he is called in to manage the Quick Stop Convenience Store, covering for an ill colleague. There the shutters over the windows are jammed shut, there are drug dealers hanging around outside and the customers just won't stop complaining. Along with Randall, his irresponsible best friend, who supposedly is managing the video store next door, Dante deals with trying to play a game of street hockey while watching the shop, attending the funeral of an ex-girlfriend while trying to decide whether to leave his current girlfriend of seven months for his high school sweetheart with whom he had a five year relationship, despite her constantly cheating on him, and has just become engaged to someone else.

Length88 minutes
SettingOne day at a Quick Stop convenience store and neighbouring video rental shop, Leonardo, New Jersey in the mid-1990s
Characters
  • Dante Hicks, convenience store clerk (Brian O'Halloran)
  • Randal Graves, Dante's best friend (Jeff Anderson)
  • Veronica, Dante's current girlfriend (Marilyn Ghigliotti)
  • Caitlin Bree, Dante's ex-girlfriend (Lisa Spoonauer)
  • Jay, drug dealer (Jason Mewes)
  • Silent Bob, drug dealer (Kevin Smith)
  • Willam 'Snowball' Black, 'Idiot Manchild' (Scott Mosier, also other roles)
  • Chewlies Gum Rep (Scott Schiaffo)
  • Old Man, elderly incontinent male with hæmorrhoids (Al Berkowitz)
  • Egg Man, guidance counsellor (Walter Flanagan, also other roles)
  • Sanford, hockey player (Ed Hapstak)
  • Caged Animal Masturbator (Virginia Smith)
  • Coroner (Pattijean Csik)
  • Administer of Fine (Ken Clark)
  • Indecisive Video Customer (Donna Jeanne)
  • Dental School Video Customer (Betsy Broussard)
  • Rick Derris, bodybuilder who had an affair with Caitlin (Ernest O'Donnell)
  • Heather Jones, Caitlin's friend Alyssa's sister (Kimberly Loughran)
  • Milk Maid (Grace Smith)
BechdelFail
DistributorMiramax
Silent Bob SpeaksThere's a million fine-looking women in the world, but they don't all bring you lasagne. Most of them just cheat on you.
Star Wars MomentDiscussing independent contractors working on the second Death Star at the time of its destruction
Jaws MomentSalsa shark
PictureBlack and White
End CreditsJay and Silent Bob Will Return in 'Dogma'

Writer/director Kevin Smith made this cheap, 16mm black and white dark comedy for $27,575 at the shop where he had worked off and on for four years. To put it another way, the money he spent making all of Clerks would not have paid for a whole second of Titanic (1997) - even after Miramax spent an additional $100,000 on the soundtrack. Filming took place during the night after the shop had closed and to explain why the shop is only lit by internal lights the shop's shutters were said to be closed due to gum in the locks. As he was working shifts in the shop during the day and filming there from 10pm – 5:30am every morning, during the three weeks of filming Smith never had more than an hour of sleep a day.

The film concentrates on witty and/or rude dialogue full of film culture references, particularly Star Wars and Jaws. Although almost every customer, from ages four upward, in the store wants to buy cigarettes, when customers purchase anything else the items they are buying always reflect the conversation that Dante and Randall are having. Dante himself was named after 14th-Century author Dante Alighieri, with the idea that his day in the convenience store is effectively his journey through hell. One scene set at Julie Dwyer's wake was outside the initial budget; the tenth anniversary edition of the film recreated this as an animation. The film's original ending involved Dante being shot and killed during a robbery, which was deleted to finish with a more upbeat note.

When writing the film, Kevin Smith planned to play the character of Randall, who had been given the best lines. Yet when it came to production Smith decided that he needed to concentrate on being the director. Still wanting to be appear in the film he decided to play Silent Bob instead, which would involve only one line in the entire film. Producer Scott Mosier plays Willam also known as 'Snowball', the spaced-out man credited as 'idiot manchild', as well as other roles. Kimberly Loughran was Smith's high school sweetheart3, his mother appears as the woman looking for the bottle of milk that has a miraculous expiry date while his sister plays the woman who proudly, and crudely, boasts that her job involves animal artificial insemination. It should be emphasised that the most disturbing animal imagery in the film is a cat using a litter tray4.

Lisa Spoonauer and Jeff Anderson started dating during the making of the film, and later were married for a year. Jay was written based on Jason Mewes when he was 16, however Mewes was very self-conscious; though Mewes would dance spontaneously, he was unprepared to dance on demand. His dance in the film was done by leaving the camera running and having everyone except Kevin Smith leaving the area. Mewes also was supposed to have Silent Bob's line but, unable to nail it, the line was changed to be the only sentence said by Silent Bob. Smith has since said that the characters of Dante and Randall were reflections of himself, with carefree Randall how he would like to be and the more uptight Dante how he really is.

The film was submitted and accepted by the Independent Feature Film Market. Although the initial screening had been practically ignored, a number of key, influential producers and reviewers gradually saw the film, which went to the 1994 Sundance Film Festival. This led to its getting Miramax5 to distribute it once the ending changed to remove Dante's death.

After Miramax bought the rights to the film a soundtrack was added; Clerks became the first film in history in which the soundtrack cost more than making the film. As the film became a cult hit6, Sony decided to release a soundtrack album. To promote this they offered Smith a budget of $30,000 to film a three minute music video for Soul Asylum's song 'Can't Even Tell (Theme from 'Clerks')'. Feeling strongly that the soundtrack's short music video should not be made for more than the film the soundtrack belongs to, Smith shot it for closer to $10,000, featuring Dante and Randall playing hockey on the Quick Stop's roof against the band, while Silent Bob and Jay lean against the wall underneath. This footage is all in colour. Both i

It should be noted that 'Clerks' in this context is the American usage meaning lowly shop assistants rather than the British usage meaning record-keepers, particularly in a bank or office.

2. Mallrats (1995)

Plot

After TS inadvertently causes the death of Julie Dwyer7, his girlfriend Brandi Svenning agrees to appear on her father's initial Blind Date knock-off television programme that he hopes to impress television executives with, leading to a long-running series. This is on the day that TS had arranged for them to travel to Florida, where he had planned to propose on Universal Studios' Jaws ride just as the shark attacks. Rightly guessing that Mr Svenning hoped to auction her off to a better boyfriend to keep them apart, TS' anger causes an argument which results in his being dumped.

Meanwhile TS' best friend Brodie is also dumped by his girlfriend Brandi for a vast shopping list of reasons including lack of ambition and libido. Brodie and TS head to the Mall to cheer themselves up, only to discover that that is where the game show is being filmed and that Stan Lee, creator of Spider-Man etc, is visiting. Brodie also learns that Shannon, the manager of the fashionable menswear shop, plans to take advantage of Rene while she is on the rebound and prey on her vulnerability. Brodie asks loafers Silent Bob and Jay to sabotage the show; their every attempt to destroy the stage ends in failure.

Can Brodie and TS regain the affections of their true loves? Will Miss Ivannah the topless fortune-teller show them what they need to see? What is more uncomfortable than the back of a Volkswagen? Can Gwen change in peace? Will Willam ever see the picture of a yacht hidden in the Magic Eye picture he has been staring at all day?

Length91 minutes
SettingA shopping centre in New Jersey, the day before the events of Clerks
CharactersThe main characters are introduced with artworks styled as Comic book covers with the following titles
  • Rene Mosier, Brodie's ex-girlfriend (Shannen Doherty) Comic Cover: Explosive Issue
  • TS Quint, Brodie's best friend who wants to marry Brandi (Jeremy London) Comic Cover: Defective Comics
  • Brodie Bruce, Sega-playing comic-book nerd (Jason Lee) Comic Cover: Brodieman
  • Brandi Svenning, TS's ex-girlfriend (Claire Forlani) Comic Cover: The Last Babe on Earth
  • Shannon Hamilton, manager of Fashionable Male who preys on vulnerable women (Ben Affleck) Comic Cover: Buttman Adventures
  • Gwen Turner, TS's ex-ex-girlfriend (Joey Lauren Adams) Comic Cover: Gwen 13
  • Tricia Jones, 15-year-old sex researcher (Renée Humphrey) Comic Cover: Weapon seX
  • Jay, sabotaging youth (Jason Mewes)
  • Silent Bob, quiet (Kevin Smith) Comic Cover (joint with Jay): Dork Knights
  • Jared Svenning, Brandi's TS-hating gameshow-running father (Michael Rooker) Comic Cover: Angry Pop
  • Miss Ivannah, topless fortune-teller (Priscilla Barnes) Comic Cover: Fantastic Two
  • Stan Lee, most influential comic creator (Stan Lee) Comic Cover: The Man
  • La Fours, Mall security chief (Sven Thorsen) Comic Cover: Incredbile Bulk
  • Willam, man staring at a Magic Eye picture (Ethan Suplee)
  • Gill Hicks, Game Show contest (Brian O'Halloran)
  • Roddy, Svenning's assistant (Scott Mosier)
  • Bob Summers, Game Show Host (Art James)
Star Wars MomentSilent Bob tries to develop Jedi powers
Silent Bob Speaks"Adventure, excitement, a Jedi craves not these things" (quoting Yoda)
DistributorGramercy Pictures, Alphaville
Jaws MomentPlan to propose on the Jaws attraction at Universal Studios
BechdelFail

Following the success of Clerks, Smith was approached by Universal Pictures who wished to make a teenage sex comedy in the same vein as Porky's (1981). In order to make a film for the late-teens audience, Smith was instructed to have the main characters in their late teens, include frontal female nudity and cut out the swearing. Universal also insisted that it was impossible to make the film for less than $6 million, which when Smith said that he had made Clerks for 0.46% of that budget, he was told that had Universal bought the rights to Clerks instead of Miramax they would have reshot and refilmed it all. One of the changes that Universal wanted to make was to have a bigger, more expensive opening sequence. Smith subsequently wrote a more ambitious opening involving Svenning arranging for the Governor to visit the school that TS and Brandi attend in the hope of getting government investment, only for the Governor to be accidentally shot by TS, which is the why Svenning hates TS. This didn't work as well as a simpler discussion between TS and Brandi in which they break up and so was excised from the final cut. The governor is nevertheless mentioned a couple of times in the finished film.

The studio interfered with many of the intended casting decisions, wanting to recast both Silent Bob and Jay, who they wanted to replace with Seth Green. Smith insisted that Jason Mewes played Jay, even though Universal refused to pay for him to attend rehearsals, travel to Minnesota where filming took place or for his accommodation there and insisted on the right to replace him if they were disappointed in his performance.

Smith had originally cast Joey Lauren Adams as Rene, however he was forced to give her a smaller role in order to cast a known actress; Shannen Doherty was the most famous person in the film, having starred in television such as Beverley Hills 90210 (1990-4). Similarly Smith had written TS with O'Halloran in mind but had been forced to recast, with the returning character of Willam also now played by someone else. Nevertheless, Mallrats helped launch the film careers of three of the cast. Ben Affleck8 became close friends with Smith but was worried that he would spend his life always being cast as the villain, leading Smith to promise to cast him as the hero in his next film. Jason Lee was a professional skateboarder who was given his first acting break and has since appeared in numerous films, and Stan Lee, who following this cameo appearance would become known for appearing in numerous comic book adaptations. Unusually it is Stan Lee, and not Silent Bob, who delivers the words of wisdom that helps the hero realise the importance of true love, save the day and get the girl.

There are several jokes in the background, for example the Mall contains shops labelled Burning Flesh Tanning and Rug Munchers Carpets. Although filmed in a genuine shopping centre, the Eden Prairie Center in Minneapolis, there were a lot of vacant shops that were able to be repurposed for filming. When hiding in the bookshop, Bob is hiding behind book Spike, Mike, Slackers and Dykes: A Guided Tour Across a Decade of American Independent Cinema by John Pierson. Pierson had been instrumental in getting Clerks seen. Brodie's home is entirely decorated with posters of either Marvel comics in honour of Stan Lee or posters of Universal films, such as Tremors (1990). Numerous references to Smith's first film abound, including TS picking up a Clerks hat at the fleamarket. The girl whose death is discussed at the start of this film is the one whose funeral Dante and Randall attend in Clerks. Brian O'Halloran cameos as Gill Hicks, Dante's cousin. Tricia Jones is the sister of Heather Jones in Clerks. Gwen Turner confesses to having had sex with Rick Derris. Jason Lee's wife Carmen Lee is the girl on the posters outside the 'Popular Girl' clothes shop.

Brodie Bruce and Quint are names in Jaws9. Tragically, Universal Studios' Jaws attraction has long since closed and been replaced. Rene Mosier was loosely inspired by Scott Mosier's younger sister Kristen, who Smith briefly dated. When the film was in post-production Smith and Joey Lauren Adams started a relationship. He has since said that the momentary glimpse in the film of her topless is one of his greatest regrets as a filmmaker, however he had been contracted to include female nudity.

Numerous comic characters are discussed in the film whereas Jay and Silent Bob undertake their sabotaging mission with hair-brained schemes right out of comic books, with Bob dressed in a Batmanlike helmet and winged-cloak while Jay utters a catchphrase Snoochie Boochies! Thje film had its premiere at ComicCon, following which several comic artists who had enjoyed Clerks asked if they could provide artwork for the film, which led to the comic book opening sequence. The film's end sequence included a number of 'what happened next' to the various characters, with one jokingly showing Jay, Silent Bob and an orangutan named Suzanne walking off into the distance.

The film was distributed by Gramercy, a company joint-owned by PolyGram and Universal Pictures. Yet their original marketing campaign did not quite seem to know who to target the film to. Mallrats flopped at the cinemas, but successfully found its audience in the home video market.

3. Chasing Amy (1997)

Plot

Holden and Banky co-write the popular Bluntman and Chronic comic book series, inspired by Jay and Silent Bob. At a convention they meet Alyssa Jones, author of another comic book series. Holden falls in love with Alyssa and then discovers that she is gay. After trying to be just her friend he blurts out his feelings for her and is stunned that these feelings are reciprocated.

Holden and Alyssa's relationship is frowned upon by their friends, with Banky in particular determined to split the two apart. He discovers that Alyssa had a reputation at high school for experimenting sexually, which Alyssa describes as 'not being born with a road map pointing from a to b' and her way to find herself during her teenage years, but that was a part of her life that ended over a decade ago. Jealous that he wasn't the first man she had made love to as she implied, and resentful through feeling that he and Alyssa Holden can't have a 'normal relationship', he is unable to accept that Alyssa's wild past is behind her because she has found fulfilment in Holden. Can two people in love survive the pressures imposed by society and events long past?

Length108 minutes
SettingThe year between two annual Manhattan Comiccons, New York and also New Jersey
Characters
  • Holden McNeil, comic book artist (Ben Affleck)
  • Alyssa Jones, comic book author and Holden's love interest (Joey Lauren Adams)
  • Banky Edwards, Holden's best friend, business partner, colourist and inker (Jason Lee)
  • Hooper X, camp, gay author of a Black Power themed comic (Dwight Ewell)
  • Jay, inspiration for Chronic (Jason Mewes)
  • Silent Bob, inspiration for Bluntman (Kevin Smith)
  • Jim Hicks, executive (Brian O'Halloran)
  • Shawn Oran, executive (Matt Damon)
  • Comic Fan (Ethan Suplee)
  • Collector (Scott Mosier)
  • Little Kid (Casey Affleck)
  • Kim, Alyssa's girlfriend (Carmen Lee, née Llywelyn)
  • Singer (Guinevere Turner)
  • Con Woman, Alyssa's partner (Virginia Smith)
DistributorMiramax
Silent Bob SpeaksIn an uncharacteristic long speech he discusses his regret at breaking up with his (unseen) ex-girlfriend Amy, saying that since then he has been chasing Amy, the title of the film.
Star Wars MomentHooper X discussing racist undertones in the Star Wars universe
Jaws MomentBanky and Alyssa discuss sex injuries in same way as shark injuries compared in Jaws, with the club's booth having blue frames behind looking remarkably like the cabin of the Orca (the not-big-enough boat in Jaws).
BechdelPass

After filming finished on Mallrats Smith and Adams briefly dated, before splitting amicably. Despite having separated Smith nevertheless wrote Chasing Amy with Adams in mind. Miramax, who offered Smith a budget of $3 million, did not feel Adams was right for the role and wanted to recast her, particularly disliking her distinctive voice. They wanted to cast Drew Barrrymore and have David Schwimmer replace Affleck instead. Smith insisted on Adams and Affleck as the leads and, disillusioned by his experience on Mallrats realised he would rather have his preferred cast than a bigger budget. In order to retain control he made the film for $250,000 with money loaned from Miramax, who had the option of first refusal to distribute. Joey Lauren Adams makes the film, even writing and performing the song she sings.

Smith and Affleck remained close friends following Mallrats. When Smith learnt that Affleck had co-written a film script with Matt Damon he used all his contacts and influence to persuade Miramax to film it with Damon and Affleck in the lead roles, executive producing the film with his View Askew partner Scott Mosier. The film, Good Will Hunting (1997) subsequently was incredibly successful, was nominated for nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and won Best Supporting Actor and Best Original Screenplay. Since then Affleck and Damon have been ever-willing to appear in Smith's films.

Perhaps because of Smith's determination to fight for his friends, many of his usual cast return, with Ben Affleck, Joey Lauren Adams, Jason Lee, Jason Mewes, Scott Mosier, Smith's sister Virginia Smith and Ethan Suplee all returning to play new roles, while Brian O'Halloran again plays a member of the extended Hicks family. The character of Alyssa Jones had first been mentioned in Clerks. Many of the other actors in small roles were relatives of the main cast, including Carmen Lee then Jason Lee's wife playing Alyssa's initial girlfriend and Casey Affleck, Ben's younger brother, playing the man who argues with Banky that being an inker and colourist is merely tracing. Though performing in the View Askewniverse for the first time, Matt Damon and Dwight Ewell would return in future films.

Jay and Silent Bob only appear in one scene, in which they collect likeness royalties for being the inspiration for Holden and Banky's comic creation. They feel offended that they are still being portrayed as shouting Snoochie Boochies and hanging out at the Mall, having outgrown all that. Other references to previous films include Alyssa Jones mentioning being best friends with Caitlin Bree and Julie Dwyer and having had sex with numerous partners including Rick Derris, Shannon Hamilton and Gwen Turner, while Banky dated Brandi Svenning for six months.

Romcoms are a genre in which traditionally a boy and a girl who are ideal for each other meet and fall in love, while something such as other people or a form of division such as class or geography etc keeps them apart. This was one of the first films in which the division was incompatible sexualities, although there was some criticism from some members of the LGBTQ+ community. Firstly, Banky is a character who is quick to stereotype and employ homophobic language, although his use of language is always colourful and he appears friendly with Hooper X. Alyssa is initially portrayed as a lesbian, although it is later revealed that she has had a more chequered bisexual past. Some groups criticised the film, incorrectly claiming that it was presenting a message that lesbians need to find the right man to find happiness, though how they believed this is unknown. The likeliest interpretation is that these online critics had not actually seen the film they were vehemently opposing10.

4. Dogma (1999)

Plot

As part of a Catholic recruitment drive that coincides with his church in New Jersey's centennial, Cardinal Glick announces that the Pope has authorised him to say that anyone who visits his cathedral on the day that it is rededicated will have all their sins forgiven. Two fallen angels living in Wisconsin who had been kicked out of heaven, Bartleby and Loki, believe that if they become human and pass through the cathedral's door and then die they will be allowed back into heaven having led blameless lives. They do not realise that if they have their sins forgiven and re-enter Heaven having been banished by God and against God's will, it will overrule the word of God and prove that God is not omnipotent and therefore all creation will be destroyed. They are being manipulated by demon Azrael who would rather cease to exist and take all of creation with him than continue to dwell in Hell.

Bethany, who works in an abortion clinic and unbeknown to her is the Last Scion, the sole remaining direct descendent of Jesus' mother Mary, is tasked with going to New Jersey and preventing the angels from entering the church. She is aided in her quest by two 'prophets' who turn out to be Jay and Silent Bob, as well as Serendipity the Muse of Inspiration and Rufus the thirteenth apostle who was written out of the Bible because he was black.

Meanwhile Bartleby and Loki decide that, if their sins are all going to be forgiven anyway, they may as well go on a bit of a killing spree on the way. Bartleby particularly seeks revenge that humanity was given free will whereas angels were expected to have a lifetime of service.

Can Bethany stop angels from entering a church when she no longer has any faith? Can Silent Bob defeat demons? Is Wisconsin really worse than Hell? Will God reveal that the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything really is 42?

Length123 minutes
SettingLate 1990s between Wisconsin and New Jersey
Characters
  • Bartleby, fallen angel (Ben Affleck)
  • Loki, fallen angel (Matt Damon)
  • Bethany Sloane, Last Scion (Linda Fiorentino)
  • Serendipity, a Muse (Salma Hayek)
  • Azrael, Demon punished for being neutral during Lucifer's rebellion (Jason Lee)
  • Metatron, Voice of God (Alan Rickman)
  • Rufus, the Thirteenth Apostle (Chris Rock)
  • Jay, drug dealer (Jason Mewes)
  • Silent Bob, John Hughes fan (Kevin Smith)
  • Cardinal Ignatius Glick, creator of the Buddy Christ and Catholicism Wow! campaigns (George Carlin)
  • God, omnipotent and omnipresent skee-ball fanatic (Alanis Morissette)
  • Grant Hicks, New Jersey local news reporter (Brian O'Halloran)
  • Stygian Triplets, servants of Azrael (Barret Hackney, Jared Pfennigwerth & Kitao Sakurai)
  • Kane, gang leader (Dwight Ewell)
  • John Doe Jersey, skee-ball fan in a coma (Bud Cort)
  • Gun Salesman (Jeff Anderson)
  • Smooching Seaman committing adultery (Scott Mosier)
Silent Bob SpeaksSilent Bob says three whole words in the film:

'No Ticket' – quoting Indiana Jones after throwing angels off the train

'Thanks' – after Rufus says he will put in a good word with Jesus if he cleans up his language.
Star Wars MomentJay compares Bethany asking him and Silent Bob to accompany her to New Jersey to Luke and Obi-Wan meeting Chewbacca and Han at the Mos Eisley cantina
BechdelPass

Kevin Smith, who grew up attending a Catholic school, wrote the first draft of this film during a crisis of faith even before he had written Clerks, although for many years it was outside his budget. Following the success of Chasing Amy he felt mature enough to tackle the subject. Disney, which owned Miramax, were unwilling to be involved in the potentially controversial film and chose not to release it. Instead they sold the film distribution rights to Britain's FilmFour in Europe and in the US was the first film widely distributed by Lionsgate. Smith overcame his crisis of faith and has credited God in the with thanks to section of the end credits in all his View Askewniverse films.

Again Smith was unable to cast his intended cast for the film, intending Joey Lauren Adams to play Bethany, however as Linda Fiorentino had starred in the highly successful big budget blockbuster Men In Black (1997), she was the studio's preferred choice. Naturally Emma Thompson was considered to be God, however she was unavailable due to pregnancy and wishing to concentrate on her family.

This film met with considerable criticism from the US Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights who accused the film of being blasphemous without having seen it, stating that flaky Catholics might stop believing in God if they saw this film11. This group which does not have official church sanction may have been using the film as a media crusade to generate publicity. Smith even received death threats from claimants asserting that the film questions Christianity when in fact it does not. Smith wrote Dogma to be a celebration of his faith and be, in his words, a 'modern psalm'. It is certainly irreverent and definitely a tad rude, but never blasphemous.

Smith's film promotes an ecumenical approach to Christianity, arguing that organised religion often blocks faith by getting bogged down in earthly politics. The plot does hinge on two Catholic beliefs; firstly, that of Indulgence in which the forgiveness of sins can be authorised by the church on Earth. Secondly that of Papal infallibility, the belief that though God is omnipotent He must do what the Pope says, as this is the word of God12. Other Christian denominations, both Orthodox and Protestant, do not believe in this dogma and that God would not in any way, shape or form be restricted to uphold any individual's expectations irrespective of whether they have an authoritative position within any religious organisation.

A Jaws homage featuring Jay wearing the cardinal's hat was filmed, but deleted from the finished film. Jay and Silent Bob are the unlikeliest couple to be described as 'prophets', but somehow it works. They had travelled across the country to live in a fictional town created by writer/director John Hughes for some of his films, only to be disappointed that the town does not actually exist. After rescuing Bethany from the Stygian triplets they said they had wanted to earn a profit. Fans of Silent Bob and Jay expressed disappointed that they did not encounter an orangutan during this film, as the joke ending of Mallrats had implied.

This film introduces the recurring Mooby Company to the View Askewniverse. The Mooby Corporation's logo is a golden calf and the company is a cross between Disney and McDonalds, combining fast food restaurants with children's entertainment and theme parks. As with other films there are numerous in-jokes and things to look out for. The bus company is named 'Derris' after the character of Rick Derris in Clerks. Silent Bob is seen reading USA Today, a newspaper Smith's wife was writing an article for when he met her.

5. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001)

Plot

After Randall gets them issued with a restraining order to stop them hanging outside the Quick Stop selling dope, Jay and Silent Bob hang out at a comic book store. There they learn from Brodie that, as all comic book characters are being made into films, Miramax are making a film featuring the comic book characters inspired by them. These characters, also called Silent Bob and Jay, turn into heroes Bluntman and Chronic. The real Silent Bob and Jay would therefore be entitled to royalties. After visiting comic artist Holden, who co-created the comic, they learn that he had sold the rights on to Banky, who was the one who authorised the film. He shows them the internet, informing them that the internet not only was created for pornography but also to allow people to slate and criticise films they haven't actually seen, as well as illegally download and share film scripts and spoil the plots for others. Angry that numerous people are bad-mouthing the fictional Jay and Silent Bob and taking it personally, Jay and Silent Bob decide to travel across America to Hollywood to stop the film from being made.

On the way, at a Mooby's restaurant they encounter Justice, a woman that Jay instantly falls head-over heels in love with. She says that she and her friends Sissy, Chrissy and Missy are animal rights protestors and ask Jay and Silent Bob to steal an orang-utan for her from an animal testing laboratory, but really Jay and Silent Bob are being used as a distraction while the girls rob the neighbouring jewellery depository. Soon Jay, Silent Bob and Suzanne the orang-utan are being hunted by Federal Wildlife Marshal Willenholly, who believes they are the most dangerous fugitives in the country.

Can Jay and Silent Bob stop Hollywood from making a film about them, or at least stop the constant ignorant internet criticism? Will they follow the Hitchhiker's guide to the road to get to Los Angeles? Even if they get there, will they be able to find the right studio, or instead blunder through every other film set in use? When will drug dealers in New Jersey who are registered members of the International Fellowship of Marijuana Distributors, Crack-Cocaine Wholesaler, Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States and Canada get dental? Is the reason that Jay's love is reciprocated is because Justice is blind? How many cameo appearances can be fitted into one film? And in the Bluntman and Chronic movie, will Dame Judi Dench play Dante?

Length100 minutes
SettingRoad trip between New Jersey and Hollywood, United States, turn of the 21st century.
Characters
  • Jay, stoner inspiration for comic character Chronic (Jason Mewes)
  • Silent Bob, Jay's muscle and inspiration for Bluntman (Kevin Smith, Baby Silent Bob: Harley Quinn Smith)
  • Holden McNeil, co-creator of comic Bluntman and Chronic (Ben Affleck)
  • Ben Affleck, actor with a reputation for having hookers in his trailer (Ben Affleck)
  • Randal Graves, video store clerk (Jeff Anderson)
  • Dante Hicks, Quick Stop convenience store clerk (Brian O'Halloran)
  • Justice, international jewel thief and love interest (Shannon Elizabeth)
  • Sissy, Chrissy and Missy, international jewel thieves posing as animal rights protestors (Eliza Dushku, Ali Larter, Jennifer Schwalbach Smith)
  • Federal Wildlife Marshal Willenholly (Will Ferrell)
  • Brodie Bruce, Brodie's Secret Stash comic shop owner (Jason Lee)
  • Banky Edwards, co-creator of Bluntman and Chronic who sold film rights (Jason Lee)
  • Hitchhiker (George Carlin)
  • Nun (Carrie Fisher)
  • Brent, singing hippy in van (Seann William Scott)
  • Chaka Luther King, director of Bluntman and Chronic: The Movie (Chris Rock)
  • Chaka's Production Assistant (Jamie Kennedy)
  • Wes Craven, director of the Scream films (Wes Craven)
  • Shannen Doherty, actress appearing in a Scream film (Shannen Doherty)
  • Cocknocker, archenemy of Bluntman and Chronic (Mark Hamill)
  • Tricia Jones, author of Bore-Gasm, sister of Alyssa (Renée Humphrey)
  • Alyssa Jones, comic book author, sister of Tricia (Joey Lauren Adams)
  • Hooper 'X' LaMont, comic book author and Banky's partner (Dwight Ewell)
  • God, supreme being credited as 'That Woman' (Alanis Morissette)
  • Matt Damon, star of Good Will Hunting 2: Hunting Season (Matt Damon)
  • James Van Der Beek, actor playing Chronic (James Van Der Beek)
  • Jason Biggs, actor playing Bluntman (Jason Biggs)
  • Willam 'Snowball' Black, idiot manchild (Scott Mosier)
  • Gus Van Sant, director of Good Will Hunting 2: Hunting Season (Gus Van Sant)
  • Morris Day, lead singer/musician of Morris Day and the Time (Morris Day)
  • Redhead Beauty, woman in van resembling Daphne in Scooby Doo (Carmen Lee née Llywelyn)
DistributorDimension Films13
Silent Bob SpeaksTo Jay: 'The sign on the back of the car said "Critters of Hollywood", you dumb smiley - bleep'

To Banky: 'We had a deal with you on the comics for likeness rights. And as we're not only the artistic basis but also the character basis for your intellectual property, Bluntman and Chronic, when said property was optioned by Miramax Films you were legally obliged to secure our permission to transfer the concept to another medium. As you failed to do that, you're in breach of the original contract - ergo, you find yourself in a very actionable position.'
Star Wars MomentNumerous, including the film title referencing The Empire Strikes Back, opening caption 'A long time ago in a convenience store far, far away', Carrie Fisher's cameo appearance to the climactic 'lightsabre duel' against Mark Hamill
Jaws MomentNone, but there is an E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial recreation.
BechdelPass

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back was intended to be the final film in the series, with many of the characters and actors from previous films making an appearance, as well as finally resolving the 'what happened next' cliff-hanger showing the characters with an orang-utan. There are numerous references to previous films as well as in-jokes and the list of actors and cast-members making cameo appearances is too long to mention. Buddy Christ appears as a figure on the nun's dashboard. Holden tells Silent Bob that he can see how he wants to do more with his life than just hang around Jay and hear rude jokes. When discussing their careers, Affleck and Damon admit that sometimes they have to appear in a film because they owe the director a favour. Affleck also asks Silent Bob and Jay who would pay to see a Jay and Silent Bob movie? before all three look at the camera and break the fourth wall.

Shop Brodie's Secret Stash was inspired by Kevin Smith's real comic book store, Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash. On the Miramax lot they encounter a man dressed as Daredevil, a character who in 2003 would be played by Ben Affleck in a film that Smith cameos in having written for the comic book series. Both Smith's wife Jennifer Schwalbach Smith and daughter appear in the film, with Harley Quinn Smith playing the baby Silent Bob. There is a post-credit sequence in which Alanis Morisette cameoing as God closes the book of the View Askewniverse14, whose last page had read 'The End'. Unlike the previous films ending with the credit 'Jay and Silent Bob will Return In...', this film ends with 'Jay and Silent Bob have Left the Building'.

There are several funny sequences in the film, including a short sequence spoofing Planet of the Apes in which Jay supposes that the animal testing laboratory is creating a race of superior monkeys doomed to take over the planet, which he describes as instead of man spanking the monkey, the monkey will spank man. This involved a brief film sequence filmed on the same beach as the original film. The twosome also encounter a spoof of Scooby Doo and also wander through various film sets, including one where a Scream sequel is being filmed, referencing how they cameoed on Scream 3. The Bluntcave set is also a fantastic recreation of the 1960s Batman Batcave. Silent Bob gives two speeches, the first showing him losing his temper for the first time in the series, shouting at Jay after numerous attempts to point out the blatantly obvious fail.

Smith had been concerned that the characters of Jay and Silent Bob were essentially comic relief characters and would be unable to support a whole film, and so numerous other scenes were filmed. These would have propped the film up, as Smith had been worried about whether Jason Mewes would be able to make the film as he was battling drug addiction at the time. He also hoped that by making a film dedicated to sex and fart jokes he would be able to enjoy being able to make an uncontroversial film free from the death threats and constant criticism that had followed making Dogma. However the film proved not to be as uncontroversial as he had hoped. After filming had finished, the film overran. It quickly became apparent that test audiences loved the sequences featuring Jay and Silent Bob and often lost interest in the scenes in which they did not appear, so many of these were cut from the finished film. This included a lot of Will Ferrell material as well as a subplot in which Chrissy, Missy and Sissy were lesbian international jewel theives which was all-but completed excised from the final film. The exception was one line in which Justice tells Sissy – originally her ex-girlfriend, only for this not to make the finished film - that she is 'so gay'. Taken out of context, this line resulted in the film being fined for derogatory use by GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation).

The film cost $20 million, making it the most expensive film in the View Askewniverse to date, although still cheaper than Kevin Smith's next film, Jersey Girl (2004). Several cast members from this film would appear in Jersey Girl, including Ben Affleck, George Carlin, Jason Biggs, Jason Lee, Matt Damon and Harley Quinn Smith.

6. Clerks II (2006)

Plot

A year after the Quick Stop burnt down, Dante and Randall are 'funployees' making burgers and taking abuse from customers at a Mooby's Restaurant. It is Dante's last day there as he is about to head to Florida with his fiancée Emma. While his best friend Randall decides to secretly arrange a leaving party, arranging for an interspecies erotica act to perform there that evening, Dante must come to terms with how he feels about his manager, Becky. Meanwhile, as they can no longer hang out outside the Quick Stop, reformed drug dealers Jay and Silent Bob, who having found their faith are no longer taking drugs, but still dealing in them, are outside the restaurant.

Who does Dante love? Can a racial slur be reclaimed? Which is the best Return of the film, Jedi or King? Who or what is Pillow-Pants? How will Dante react having faced his inferno? Has Silent Bob finally run out of things to say?

Length93 minutes
SettingBriefly at the Quick Stop, Leonardo, New Jersey and predominantly at a nearby Mooby's Restaurant
Characters
  • Dante Hicks, funployee at a Mooby's Restaurant (Brian O'Halloran)
  • Randal Graves, funployee at a Mooby's Restaurant (Jeff Anderson)
  • Becky Scott, manager at a Mooby's Restaurant (Rosario Dawson)
  • Jay (Jason Mewes)
  • Silent Bob (Kevin Smith)
  • Elias Grover, funployee at a Mooby's Restaurant who loves Lord of the Rings and Transformers (Trevor Fehrman)
  • Emma Bunting, Dante's fiancée (Jennifer Schwalbach Smith)
  • Lance Dowds, internet millionaire who went to school with Dante and Randall (Jason Lee)
  • Gawking Guy, Mooby customer (Ben Affleck)
  • Sexy Stud (Zak Knutson)
  • Hobbit Lover, Mooby customer and Lord of the Rings fan (Kevin Weisman)
  • Concerned Father, Mooby customer (Scott Mosier)
  • Pack-o-Smokes Guy, Quick Stop customer (Walter Flanagan)
  • Husband and Wife, Mooby customers (Earthquake and Wanda Sykes)
  • Kid in Window (Harley Quinn Smith)
  • Milk Maid (Grace Smith)
DistributorThe Weinstein Company (TWC)
Silent Bob SpeaksAfter a big build-up in which he is expected to provide the answer: I got nothing.

After consequently being shouted at by Jay: You know what? That hurts. Like, what do you ever add to the …proceedings? You got, like, one answer for everything: 'Pussy, man'.
Star Wars MomentArgument over which is better, Star Wars or The Lord of the Rings
BechdelPass

After the failure of Jersey Girl, a film that cost $35 million to make, including paying Ben Affleck and Jenifer Lopez $10 and $4 million respectively to appear but only made $36 million at the box office15, so failing to recoup its production and marketing budget, Smith once more returned to the View Askewniverse.

This was a difficult decision for Smith to make as he had been offered the chance to direct big-budget superhero film The Green Hornet for Miramax, however he realised that working on big budget films would result in losing control over the film and he would be answerable to those providing the finance. He had also been disillusioned with making films featuring stars and the intense media pressure that came with it, particularly the media's obsession with the stars' love lives to the point of having no interest in the film they were appearing in whatsoever.

Smith instead opted to make a low-budget comedy, surrounded by family and friends, initially hoping to make a film for a similar budget to Chasing Amy although his producer Scott Mosier persuaded him that for full justice to be given to the film's aims, a budget of $5 million would be more realistic. Following the $20 million budget of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, this was made for a much more discreet $5 million, financed by TWC. In 2005 Harvey Weinstein had fallen out with the Walt Disney Company over their control of Miramax, with disputes including claims that the Weinsteins were not paying their staff overtime and were not keeping proper company accounts. Harvey and Bob Weinstein co-founded The Weinstein Company and one of their first projects was financing Clerks II, though it was produced by View Askew. Weinstein disliked the title Clerks II and felt the film should have been called Clerks II: The Passion of the Clerks16. It should be emphasised that Weinstein financed the film but was not otherwise involved in its production other than encouraging Smith to cast a famous name in the lead actress role as all the lead male roles were played by relative unknowns. Weinstein claimed that this would be needed to ensure someone from the film would be invited onto chat shows to promote the film. In late 2017 it was revealed that Harvey Weinstein was a sexual predator who had used his position of power to abuse and rape over 100 women. TWC declared bankruptcy soon after.

Smith enjoyed reuniting with many of his close friends and colleagues he had previously worked with, with even his mother and daughter making brief, cameo appearances. The role of Becky had originally been written with his wife Jennifer Schwalbach Smith in mind. After Harvey Weinstein insisted on casting an A-list actress so that the film would have at least one star, Jennifer was instead given the smaller role of Emma, which she was happy with. It is now difficult to imagine anyone other than Rosario Dawson in that role. Jason Lee and Ben Affleck also appear for brief cameos; Affleck was only supposed to be a silent cameo but improvised a short sentence while Lee filmed all his scenes during a Saturday off when he wasn't starring in television show My Name Is Earl (2005-9).

The film begins and ends in black and white, recreating the spirit and look of the original Clerks. The film was also deliberately filmed with a desaturated colour quality to ensure it was in keeping with the original film, with many fans of Clerks having been attracted by its cheap, worn aesthetic. The film is set in a Mooby's Restaurant, the franchise that had first appeared in Dogma, while Jay wears first a Buddy Christ T-Shirt and later wears a jacket labelled 'Justice TLF' (True Love Forever), referencing his girlfriend from the previous film. Once more numerous films are referred to and spoofed, including a memorable The Silence of the Lambs reference and an uplifting dance sequence.

Following the death of his mother in 2002, Jason Mewes battled various forms of substance abuse. Before filming began on Clerks II Smith had promised Jason Mewes that if he were able to come clean he would appear in his next film, having replaced him on Jersey Girl. Mewes underwent a six month rehab course and stayed sober not only during filming but for the following three years until a short relapse in 2009 following surgery. Once again the film gathered a huge internet backlash before being released, this time from fans who felt that Clerks II would devalue and detract from the original. After the film was released fans felt that actually it was a poignant film that built on the characters already introduced but showing them coming to terms with being in their thirties rather than their younger selves faced with life in their twenties.

Filming took place in New Jersey as well as California. The New Jersey sequences were those bookending the film at the Quick Stop, with Kevin Smith's childhood home used as the location for Randall's house. The most difficult part of production was finding an empty fast food restaurant in America where they could film the fictional Mooby's and eventually found a disused Burger King in California; this had only been abandoned because it was in the process of being relocated and the original restaurant was due to be demolished. The set designers did such a convincing job of recreating the look of a fast food restaurant that throughout the production members of the public kept assuming it was a new, open burger joint. As the restaurant was located next to a hotel the hotel effectively became the production's office as well as place the cast and crew could stay.

The film's credits ends with, Jay and Silent Bob may return. As for now, they're taking it easy.

Jay & Silent Bob's Super Groovy Cartoon Movie! (2013)

Plot

After Silent Bob wins $10 million from a scratchcard bought at the Quick Stop, Silent Bob and Jay spend the money becoming superheroes Bluntman and Chronic, complete with Bluntcave, Bluntmobile and all the gadgets needed to become crime fighters. Yet everywhere they go they accidentally cause people to fall into vast vats of chemicals, mutating them into monsters. These monsters, led by supervillain Lipstick Lesbian, who is angry that Jay had shouted sexual comments at her when she walked past the Quick Stop, form the League of Shitters and attack.

Length64 minutes
SettingRed Bank and Leonardo, New Jersey
Characters
  • Jay aka Chronic (Jason Mewes)
  • Silent Bob aka Bluntman (Kevin Smith)
  • Lipstick Lesbian, head of the League (Eliza Dushku)
  • Cocknocker villain not played by Mark Hamill (Tara Strong)
  • Dick Head (Ralph Garman)
  • Albert, Bluntman and Chronic's butler (Neil Gaiman)
  • NewsGroup, villain (Ben Gleib)
  • Blunt-Girl (Jennifer Schwalbach Smith)
  • Dante Hicks, Quick Stop Owner (Brian O'Halloran)
  • Stan Lee, comic creator wishing to recruit Bluntman and Chronic to join the Avengers (Himself)
BechdelPass


Directed by Steve Stark and not Kevin Smith, and based on Smith's comic book Bluntman & Chronic, it is best considered an animated spin-off telling what is considered a work of fiction in the View Askerniverse rather than a direct continuation of the series. There are two sides to Kevin Smith's writing – there's the poignant writer who concentrates on relationships and friendships, and there's the side dedicated to dick and fart jokes. This is purely the potty-mouthed latter.

Jay & Silent Bob's Super Groovy Cartoon Movie! was produced by Jason Mewes, as Smith wanted to both challenge and reward him for staying clean and away from drugs and alcohol.

1No detailed scenes of drug abuse appear in the films.2Having met at Vancouver Film School, Mosier and Smith's first project was Mae Day: The Crumbling of a Documentary (1992). The film was supposed to be a documentary about a day in the life of transsexual entertainer Emelda Mae, however once the project began she vanished. The film instead documents how it is impossible to make a documentary when the person you are making a documentary about disappears as well as how incompetent the directors are.3She left him when they went to college and started dating an 'Asian Design Major', just like Caitlin's fiancé in the film.4At the start of the film Dante's dog drinks water out of the toilet, but this is barely visible.5A film company founded by the infamous Harvey and Bob Weinstein in 1979 that had been sold to Disney in 1993, although the Weinstein's retained some executive power. When he was first shown Clerks, Harvey Weinstein walked out within ten minutes.6Gaining the dubious honour of being the most stolen VHS cassette from US video stores in the late 1990s.7When he learnt that she was appearing on a television programme, TS remarked that the camera adds ten pounds. This led Julie to rush to the swimming pool in the hope of losing weight through exercise and she died of an embolism on her 698th lap.8Affleck is portrayed as 'Buttman' in the opening credits and would later play Batman in the DC Expanded Universe (2016+) having already been Daredevil (2003).9Brodie and Bruce are characters while Spielberg nicknamed the mechanical shark prop 'Bruce' after his lawyer.10SPOILER: Alyssa and Holden's relationship doesn't last and she finds a new female partner at the end of the film, dismissing Holden as 'a guy I used to know'. In their cameo appearances in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Alyssa and Holden are not back together.11Presumably they also believe that anyone who watches a Mickey Mouse cartoon will automatically believe in the existence of anthropomorphic mice.12This is based on their interpretation of Matthew 16 v 19, in which Jesus promises Peter, who the Catholic Church consider to be the first Pope, 'Whatever you bind on Earth shall be bound in Heaven'. The Catholic Church's interpretation is that because of this dogmatic law in which God promises to uphold vows made by disciples on Earth, whatever the Catholic Church says God must adhere to.13Then a division of Miramax releasing independent films aimed at late teen and young adult audiences.14Although it is not the final page of the book of the View Askewniverse and she leaves a bookmark on the page she closes.15This film was made when Ben Affleck's relationship with his then-girlfriend Jennifer Lopez was being constantly broadcast everywhere by the media under the title 'Bennifer'. After their film Gigli (2003), which cost $77 million to make and only recouped $7 million it was apparent that audiences did not want to see a film starring the celebrity couple, something confirmed by Jersey Girl's test screenings. So despite having paid $4 million for her to be in it, many of the Lopez scenes were removed from the version of the film actually shown in order to hopefully persuade audiences to actually see it.16Though Dogma ended with the credit that Jay and Silent Bob would return in Clerks II: Hardly Clerkin', the film that Smith had in mind then became Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.

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