In a recent post by Dagger he described the experience of working on a film for the 48 Film Project. In this post he mentioned how there was that one guy who sucked. First I would like to say that Dagger was 100% accurate in his assessment of this individual, that’s not the point here. I think it was after the first meeting Dagger attended he was telling me about these people and he brought up how this guy who sucks said if he could make any movie it would be “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.” This struck me as a stupid choice, more on that in a bit. What really stuck out in my mind was if I could make any movie what would it be? I have been thinking about this question off and on for the past year. I think I may have finally found my answer.
Let me first discuss how I hate the idea of “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back” being a choice. I have nothing against this movie, I own it, it has funny moments, but it’s no masterpiece and it’s not even in the upper echelon of comedies. Even among Kevin Smith films it’s still only somewhere in the middle.
Let’s start there within the realm of Kevin Smith films. Kevin Smith broke onto the scene with his indie film “Clerks.” Anyone who has worked a shitty job could relate to this movie. Anyone who has wasted a day talking about the banalities of life, love, and their favorite indulgences (Star Wars in this case) could relate to this movie. The films had a raw and real feel to it and it showed promise that this new filmmaker was pretty good behind the camera. This movie was kind of a big deal in the indie film scene. So this Kevin Smith movie I would accept as a legitimate answer to the question.
Or “Chasing Amy” which was a very personal story, and aside from some slow parts, was a well made film. But just the fact that Smith was willing to put himself and this personal heartbreak out there for the world to see makes this a reasonable choice to the question. Then it would probably go “Dogma,” “Mallrats,” “Zach and Miri,” “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back,” “Cop Out,” “Jersey Girl.” I haven’t seen “Red State” yet so I don’t know where I would put that one.
“Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back,” is, to borrow a line from the movie, “fucking clown shoes.” Jay and Silent Bob themselves are decent secondary characters, comic relief when the main characters are having real problems. Thinking they can carry a feature film is the funniest part about this movie, but not in a good way.
To choose this as the one movie you would make shows little ambition and little creativity. From a writing standpoint it is your basic buddy road movie, it could be argued that it was done as a parody or homage to the old Crosby and Hope movies, but that seems like a stretch. Then an out of place jewel heist plot line is tacked on. Seriously, was this only there to have reason for someone to chase Jay and Bob? Still from the writing aspect these are not new characters so that’s just lazy, and they’re one note characters, who were easily developed in the previous four movies. Here it is: Jay, basic stoner with a penchant for dick and fart jokes who speaks in long strings of profanities. Silent Bob: He doesn’t speak. So the main characters, who control the bulk of the film’s dialog, consist of the rambles of a stoner and a guy who doesn’t talk. You could find this film written in the notebook of a 7th grade boy.
So the writing is shitty. What about the directing? At this point in Smith’s career he had some money and some clout, he was making movies with bigger budgets. When he was making “Clerks” he was financing it himself. He didn’t have access to fancy cranes and computers and shit. This forced him to be creative and that ultimately made the movie better. Now with the money he was able to do the crane shots and CGI and all that shit, and that doesn’t always make things better. Again it’s kind of a lazy factor.
The more I think about the idea that someone would look to this movie and think, “That is what I want my film to be like!” the angrier I get. That should have been the sign that we shouldn’t have worked with him. With the sheer amount of movies out there, how could this one even crack the top 100?
Now that I shit all over this, I suppose I have to step delicately as I talk about the movie I would make. There are numerous things to take into consideration. Do I want to make “Lord of the Rings” and have myself like a million Oscars? Do I want to make the space epic that will enthrall nerds until the end of time, and have everything else I ever do get picked apart like a soccer team stranded on a mountain top? Do I want to make the film that will be regarded as the greatest film ever made, but is boring as shit? When you consider all these things, it’s easy to see why I have been thinking about this for over a year.
Then I started thinking is this only about the end result? Or does it include what the process would be like as well? There is a lot to be said about just the experience of making the movie, as Dagger pointed out. So that started to play a role in my decision as well.
I think I have it narrowed down to two films. The first turned out to be a pretty big deal, and part of what got me really involved and interested in movies. I remember going with my cousin to see this in the theater, I had to be 11 years old, and I was confused and weirded out by the anal rape scene. Of course I am talking about “Pulp Fiction.” Now that I mentioned the anal rape scene as a part that stood out it sounds like I have chosen to make this movie because of my affinity for anal rape scenes. That is completely not the case, ok not completely. Obviously this was a movie that stuck with me, that made me think about what a movie could be and how film makers can take the basic linear formula and turn it on its head and still make a movie that makes sense.
This film would meet thar desire of making a movie that will stand up over time and be regarded as a classic. A movie that cracks AFI’s top 100 list. But would it meet that fun experience criterion? I like to think so. Everyone in the movie is portrayed as fucking cool, so they seem like would be good to work with. Then there’s the gratuitous violence, which would be fun to create. So it seems that way. When we worked on the 48 Film Project there was a point when four of us were brain storming possible ideas, and often we found ourselves saying, “Tarantino did it!” It’s like we knew that making a Tarantino style film would be the way we wanted to go, to be something we would want to work on. By this logic I would say that working on “Pulp Fiction” would be a great experience.
While “Pulp Fiction” is tremendously cool in every conceivable aspect, it is rarely considered a comedy. As much as I enjoy action and drama and all that, it is obvious that comedy is where my true love is. So not choosing a comedy as the film I would make seems wrong. After all I do write for a humor website.
So with that in mind, I would say, with 98% definitiveness (2% because I’ll never know how I’ll feel tomorrow), that the movie I would make if I could make any movie would be “Hot Fuzz.” This was the movie Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg made after “Shaun of the Dead” and the first time I saw it I knew I liked it more than “Shaun.” It’s this satire of cop and mystery movies. When done right satire is great, and this is done right. This movie is played straight from start to finish. The giant shoot out at the end is so ridiculous, but is done with such conviction that you accept it, and I love that.
Most of the comedy in “Hot Fuzz” as well as “Shaun of the Dead” comes from the absurdity that we often experience in real life. They don’t rely on middle school humor. They understand the truly funny comes from a sincere place and they embrace that. It’s that perfect combination of humor and heart. There is also a large amount of evidence that indicates these movies are made by people who genuinely love movies. That is exactly the reason I even want to make movies.
What’s happening on screen is definitely something I would love to create. And the impression I get is that Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost are all really good friends. Dagger mentioned the way he and I work well together when writing to bring out the best possible comedy in each other. Everything I have seen, heard, and read makes me believe Wright and Pegg operate this same way. So to be working with your best friends and having the best come out of it would be the greatest experience possible for making a movie, or doing anything for that matter.
Knowing I could work with my best friends to make a funny movie while paying homage to movies, yes, that is the movie I would make.
See ya at the Winchester…
15 Sep 2011 Lee S. Hart