HK and Cult Film News's Fan Box

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


To celebrate his 37th birthday, Kevin Smith held one of his one-man shows in a sold-out theater in his hometown of Red Bank, New Jersey. The question-and-answer event took place over seven-and-a-half hours, five or so of which are contained in the 2-disc set SOLD OUT: A THREEVENING WITH KEVIN SMITH. I approached it with more than a little trepidation, not having seen Smith's first two DVDs and fearful of the extreme boredom which might result from watching him standing on a stage for several hours flapping his gums. I needn't have worried, though, because Smith is an expert storyteller who really knows how to keep listeners entertained.

The first half-hour or so is a bit slow, as Kevin talks at length about his dogs. I really didn't care all that much about his dogs. The main impression I got at first was that not only does he sweat an awful lot, to which he freely admits several times, but that this performance was reminiscent of a stand-up comedy act by someone who sucks at stand-up comedy. It took awhile to realize that this isn't what he's doing at all. He's simply telling true stories about his life, not embellishing them to make them funnier (well, maybe a little), and not making up a bunch of crap and pretending it's true. And when you finally relax and get into the rhythm of it, listening to him yak about stuff gradually becomes more and more fun.

This is especially true when the dog stories are spent and Smith finally starts getting into the juicy fanboy stuff (or "Fam Boy", as it's amusingly misspelled in the subtitles). My favorite part is his account of working on LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD with my second-favorite actor, Bruce Willis, which takes up at least forty minutes of the show. If you're a Bruce fan, you'll love these hilarious behind-the-scenes stories, too, with Bruce being Bruce ("He just knows how to be Bruce Willis") and Kevin being amazed at how disorganized big-studio filmmaking can be. Another highlight is the tale of how Jason Mewes fell in love with his Days Inn motel room during the filming of CLERKS II and started tricking it out with hundreds of dollars worth of kitschy home furnishings and other accessories that he bought at a nearby Target store, eventually asking Kevin if it would be possible to buy the room as a permanent residence. As filming progressed in a deserted fast-food restaurant next door, Jason could often be found on the second floor landing in front of his room, kicked back in a chaise lounge cooking for the cast and crew on his hibachi.

Much more disturbing and even more hilarious is the lengthy saga of Smith's bout with excruciating rectal pain, which proved a source of unendurable agony during a stint of jury duty. Back to fanboy territory, he discusses being threatened with a lawsuit for making fun of Hayden Christensen's acting in the "Star Wars" prequels, the thrill of having a "Battlestar Galactica" spaceship named after him, the myriad reasons why SUPERMAN RETURNS is a boring "whiny emo" movie, the horror of seeing CLERKS turned into a crappy sitcom pilot by other writers, and what it's like to be dissed on "Ain't It Cool News" ("Like, dude, you can't win with AICN and the TalkBacks. They just hate. That's their f**king reason for being.") Smith seems delighted to have one foot in each side of fandom, and his enthusiasm for such things is infectious. As a result, the originally daunting running time of this show--almost four hours--began to fly by.

I figured the bonus features on disc two would consist of behind-the-scenes featurettes and stuff like that, right? Nope--we get nineteen short outtakes from the show, about 75 minutes total, with Smith taking even more audience questions and regaling us with stories such as "The Joel Siegel Story", "The Tuck", "Paris Hilton and Jason Mewes", "Meeting Bruce Willis" (yes, there's more), and a number of other subjects that keep the entertainment rolling along much better than some dumb documentary on how the show was put together or whatever.

Like I said, I'm not really a Kevin Smith fan, or wasn't until now anyway, so I didn't look forward to sitting through several hours of him onstage with a microphone. That's why SOLD OUT: A THREEVENING WITH KEVIN SMITH came as such a pleasant surprise. I can see myself putting this on and listening to it again, although next time I'll just skip the dog stories and get right to the fanboy, DIE HARD, intense rectal pain heart of the matter, where Jason Mewes cooks hamburgers in front of his Days Inn motel room and fat guys in wetsuits are terrorized by bloodthirsty seals.

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