‘Too Fat for 40′: Kevin Smith kicks himself when he’s down

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As I watched a preview copy of “Kevin Smith: Too Fat for 40” the other night I couldn’t figure out if it was a comedy special or a cry for help.

The show debuts as a video-on-demand option on EPIX tomorrow night and is a gruesome experience for those of us who are fans of the gifted creator of “Chasing Amy” (below).

Smith caused a sensation on the film festival circuit 16 years ago with his no-budget comedy “Clerks” which was filmed in his New Jersey backyard with a few actor friends and went on to become part of the rise of the mighty Miramax Films.

Smith and Quentin Tarantino became idols to young filmmakers all over the world who dreamed of getting a big break with a little movie.

“Clerks” was rough in both style and content, but showed Smith to be a master of profane comedy — he was willing to go too far to earn laughs and he can now be seen as the godfather of the Judd Apatow sex farces that came along a decade later.

What Apatow did was smooth off some of the rough edges of the Smith movies and up the ante on the nudity.

I met Smith in 1997 when he came to New Haven to promote his terrific romantic comedy “Chasing Amy” which seemed to point him in a whole new direction — it was a smart sex comedy that took real risks in its portrayal of male-female relationships.

The filmmaker was riding high at that point — Warner Bros. hired him to draft a new “Superman” screenplay because of his love of comic books as well as movies. Smith was smart and funny and justly proud of the big step he had taken with “Chasing Amy.”

Nothing came of Smith’s superhero script and his career went into a tailspin from which he has yet to recover. Since the turn of the century, the filmmaker’s name has been on a series of duds (including “Clerks II” and “Zack and Miri Make a Porno”) and recently he made dubious news when he was thrown off a Southwest Airlines flight for being too obese to fit in one of the airplane seats.

“Too Fat for 40” recounts the embarrassing airplane experience but Smith isn’t a stand-up comic and he isn’t to transform his humiliation into comedy (the way Richard Pryor did again and again).

The writer-director has acted in a few films, but has been most effective in the small word-less role of “Silent Bob” that he has played in many of his own films.

“Too Fat for 40” was taped in Smith’s New Jersey hometown so he has a very sympathetic audience, but the laughter is not exactlty explosive as the enormous, sweating (and unflatteringly garbed) star repeats himself ad nauseam (using the phrase “and s–t” to end too many of his sentences), fails to score many laughs and then resorts to a namedropping Q&A session where he talks about working with Bruce Willis on the terrible “Cop Out.”

Let’s hope Smith is able to get back on track and put this unfortunate live show behind him.

Joe Meyers

9 Responses

  1. Secondhand Rose says:

    I don’t care HOW fat Kevin Smith is, he’s still an incredibly sexy guy.

  2. Jay says:

    Haha, pretty funny how this rings more true than ever. Boy he sure does repeat himself, the guy is stretched so thin and desperate for material. His last special Go To Hell was a re-telling of the whole Red State thing with the Phelps’, including the dick tastes yummy sign he was so proud of, you know, the one you saw on video AND heard about on every talk show AND was brought up multiple times across multiple weeks across multiple podcast platforms? Anyway.. your internet legend is on life support buddy, SIR is dead in one of the quickest and saddest abandon-your-own-baby situations I’ve ever seen, only kept alive by a merciful Ming and a bunch of podcasts that nobody cares about. And Kev? Besides lording over the tv show Comic Book Men (WHY does he stand at the table?) and trying to get a PG-13 version of Hollywood Babble-On made (Yeah cause THAT’S a good idea), the last I checked in, he was still telling everyone he’s fat, and on 3 different mediums told the story of getting a physical. (It’s not a crazy/funny story, he just had never had a physical. We get to hear about every minor thing in his life.) It’s like witnessing a slow moving trainwreck, and to think it all started when he had a bad opening weekend for ZAM. He went into his cave and smoked himself into oblivion for like 4 months, and then returned to the world, bitched for about 2 months, became a weed advocate and shifted blame around.. and then did COP OUT! Wow. It’s just sad that this is how it turned out, because I used to be such a fan back when it was fun. Now.. if he were to read this, he’d mock me in that nasal snark voice and all his sheep like fans would want to crucify me for slandering lord Kevin. I just wish I knew what his fans thought they were getting out of it. To hear a person every day, you can become very familiar and fond of someone, but on the same hand you can really grow to hate somebody too. Adopting his vernacular (sir etc), and kissing his ass for no gain except maybe a mention that makes you feel important, and honestly for that you’d probably have to put down some cash. I have nothing more to say, my rambling paragraph is turning into an essay, but my frustration for this crap knows no bounds anymore. I thought it was old 2 years ago.

  3. Chris says:

    Who do you think you are? You try to give a bad review to push someone down so you can gain popularity? Two things, with Kevin’s recent launch of S.I.R ( Smodcast Internet Radio) he has quickly risen to the rank of internet legend. He proves to everyone that his funny as always but also in touch with his fans and far more intelligent than this review ever made you seem. Second his movies while not up to your standards (cause I’m sure that you still remember the nights you went back and watched I Love Lucy when new episodes aired) are fantastic they are funny and if you look deeper into the meaning of these films you find a lot of further meaning he disguises to within the jokes. That’s what it means to be an artist Sir and I wish they had a license for being able to post movie reviews because I would demand they revoke yours.

  4. Matt says:

    You people are all so dumb. All sitting here saying how bad Cop Out was. Guess what Kevin Smith did not write Cop Out, that is the reason it was not as good as his other films. Smith was director only.
    Kevin Smith is a genius and his Q & A sessions are legendary and hilarious. You guys don’t know what you are talking about. I found Kevin Smith: Too Fat For Forty to be fantastic.

  5. abercrombie says:

    Kevin Smith was born in New Jersey, New Jersey, Kevin has always been proud of the audience in his films is not difficult! to find

  6. Drew says:

    Joe’s take on Kevin Smith is dead-on and anyone who disagrees with his point of view is either diluted or willfully ignorant or both. (Although, I would have provided leniency for his ambitious, if not-quite-successful religious comedy “Dogma.” Few films have riled up the right wing like that puppy did.) Anyway, Kevin Smith is the director of diminishing returns, someone who, unlike his former studio mate Quentin Tarantino (and contemporaries like Darren Aronofsky), failed to make good on the initial promise that he provided in early films like “Clerks” and “Chasing Amy.” Earlier this year, he unleashed the atrocious “Cop Out,” a movie that was so bad that I stood at the back of the theater for the film’s last 25 minutes or so, just so I could make sure that I could leave the movie as soon as possible. Yes, I know he didn’t write “Cop Out,” although the whole “Kevin Smith as a writer” line of thinking has significantly decomposed too. Joe made mention of his aborted “Superman Lives” script, which was abandoned because then-director Tim Burton feel it, but he recently did a limited series “Batman” comic book arc, called “The Widening Gyre,” in which Batman admitted to pooping in the bat suit. Oh, Kevin Smith, always keeping things classy. Smith next has a “horror movie” coming up, although every time he veers away from his tried-and-true (in theory, at least) formula, disaster strikes: think the maudlin drama of “Jersey Boy” or “Cop Out’s” liberal mix of action and comedy. Smith will continue his downward spiral, picking up residual checks from late night cable airings of his original films, limited speaking engagements, and the odd comic book writing gig. But the filmmaker that promised to be an American visionary? That dude is long gone, lost amidst all that fat, I’d assume.

  7. Joe says:

    Thanks for the comment, C.J. Hope you enjoy the EPIX special.

  8. C. J. Daly says:

    What a terrible, terrible review. One sentence that might generously be considered substantive, and it’s a run-on one at that! Naturally, it’s buried at the bottom of an otherwise brutally clumsy clump of speculation, factual inaccuracy (I Wikipedia’d “Clerks II,” the film you deemed a “dud”; it apparently doubled its $5 million budget on opening weekend), and weight cracks made by a man whose byline photo makes him look like he’s a walk-on extra in “Welcome Back Cotter.”

    In the age of information, opinions are more worthless than the bandwidth they occupy. Getting trusted reviews from credible sources requires setting up proper filters. I was looking for a decent review of this program to decide whether it would be worth signing up for EpixHD. Your lack of professionalism, lack of substance, and poor writing skills just helped me decide you’re exactly what I’m not looking for. Please let your editors know my eyes won’t be glazing over any ads posted near your name again.

  9. Jose says:

    Yeah, Joe, from your headshot I can tell you’re the kind of guy with his finger on the pulse of entertainment.