Jay and Silent Bob (in 'Jay and Silent Bob Reboot') marvel at our list of Kevin Smith movies

Kevin Smith’s film career has run the gamut of quality. He’s been making movies for almost 30 years, and his filmography has a little bit of everything. Early 20s angst, early 20s angst in a mall, mid 20s angst, early 30s angst. And then a hard turn into studio buddy cop comedy before swinging into horror and dropping into the modern nostalgia porn era. In short, Kevin Smith movies are all over the place.

But despite having only 13 feature films to his directorial credit, Kevin Smith is equal parts revered and reviled by critics and audiences alike. Then there’s Kevin Smith behind the scenes. Also equal parts revered and reviled. No one Kevin Smith movie epitomizes what anybody anywhere actually thinks about him. He can be great, he can be awful, and he can be somewhere in the middle. Actually, he’s somewhere in the middle quite a lot. But you can’t argue with longevity. After all, we’re 27 years removed from his first film, and we’re still talking about him.

And we’re going to talk about him at length. From the worst to the best, we’re going to take a trip down memory lane. And we’ll try not to pick up a contact buzz from Kevin while we’re out it.  The man is weird and wonderful, and oh dear lord, he’s gonna go through with writing Clerks III. Let’s sift through Smith’s 27-year film history and find out what holds up and what needs to be left out to dry.

13. Yoga Hosers, 2016

As is required by Internet law, Yoga Hosers lies firmly at the sub-bottom of this list. It actually fell through the bottom and liquified on impact in the basement before leaking into the crawlspace. Soon the liquified madness that is this worst of Kevin Smith movies gains sentience and infects the foundation. Then the house becomes self-aware of the abomination it has become and, horrified, promptly ends itself.

So yeah, Yoga Hosers is pretty bad. But, as will become a theme with the latter age of Kevin Smith movies, it’s enthusiastically bad. Hang on. Let me check my notes here, and yes, this is probably about the moment I get blocked on Twitter. Godspeed, Kevin, we love you.

I’m not going to go into great detail of the plot. In short, Harley Quinn Smith (Smith’s daughter) and Lily-Rose Depp (Johnny Depp’s daughter) play best friends who work at a Canadian convenience store. They’re also yoga enthusiasts who find their store under attack by a mad Nazi scientist’s experiment. Sentient sausages with eyes, mouths, and Charlie Chaplin mustaches (not sure where Google sits on uttering that name) that want to kill them and conquer the world. Also, the sausages are all played by Kevin Smith. So, to some degree, all of that sounds at least interesting. But it isn’t.

It wants to be a cross between a Gremlins or Critters-style “little monsters run amok” movie and a love letter to all things Canada. And the cast seems to be game for it, hamming it up to the absolute max. But the movie just doesn’t cohere into anything. It’s a billion THC-induced fever dreams (that’s not a thing, but whatever). All of them weird and fun enough on their own. But crammed together, it just becomes a complete and total mess. Easily the worst of all the Kevin Smith movies.

12. Cop Out, 2010

Hey, it’s the movie that sent Kevin Smith off the deep end for a while there. It shattered his faith in working with A-list stars and made an enemy out of Bruce Willis. Basically, everything he has done since 2010 from his podcasting empire to all the Kevin Smith movies that followed have their origins in this movie.

Cop Out began life as a script called A Couple Of Dicks. A script that sat at the top of 2008’s Black List, Hollywood’s unofficial list of the best unproduced screenplays in the film business. For reasons passing understanding, Warner Bros. enlisted Kevin Smith to helm the film. Smith looked at the movie as a legit challenge, as it was the first movie on which he didn’t also write the script. Plus, it was a chance to work with childhood idol Bruce Willis. And Smith and Willis got along well enough the one day they worked together on A Good Day To Die Hard. That’s the same thing as signs of a pairing made in Hollywood heaven, right?

No. No, it is not.

The movie just never hooks the premise. Bruce Willis plays a detective who’s trying to pay for his estranged daughter’s wedding, but he’s also one of those movie cops who gets thrown off the force. His plan B is to sell a priceless baseball card, but it gets stolen. Somehow the stolen baseball card leads Willis and his partner, Tracy Morgan, into a deep dive into a neighborhood gang. Again, it’s a fun enough premise, but the execution is just sloppy enough to derail the whole thing. Like Yoga Hosers after it, Cop Out wants to be too many thing.

An 80s buddy cop movie, a cop movie with a family dramedy twist, and an interminable scene with Sean William Scott. Because all movies from the late 90s through the early 2010s have to have at least one. Cop Out has funny enough moments, but it just doesn’t congeal into anything. It’s not the absolute bottom when it comes to Kevin Smith movies. But it’s close. Very, very close.

11. Zack And Miri Make A Porno, 2008

This was supposed to be Kevin Smith’s ticket to the top of the box office. Instead, it’s a low point among Kevin Smith movies.

Clerks II (we’ll get there) marked Kevin Smith’s exit from his beloved View Askewniverse. For a while, anyway. But Smith is nothing if not a man who wants to dip his finger in the fountain of success. Judd Apatow movies were the talk of the movie comedy world. And Smith was (rightly) aware that he more or less invented the Apatow brand of comedy. The only thing Kevin Smith movies lacked in comparison was the saccharin sweet “everybody comes to their senses and makes this work” element that is slathered all over all things Apatow.

To this day, it’s a little baffling that Zack And Miri Make A Porno failed quite as hard as it did. Because there’s a lot that should work. Seth Rogen at the top of his fame. The guy just did Knocked Up and 40-Year Virgin. Also, he hadn’t done The Green Hornet yet. There was still gold in them thar hills. And the acting from Rogen and Elizabeth Banks is very sweet, and they have great chemistry together. Plus, this is territory Kevin Smith covered successfully before. The idea of friends crossing the threshold into a romance realizing that you can’t just go back.

Where it falls apart is in the premise. I know this is a nit-pick, but the idea of the movie is that roommates and besties Zack and Miri can’t pay their bills. So they enlist their friends to help them make a porno movie to make some extra scratch. Never mind how they’re paying for the elaborate sets and props. Or how they’re paying the actors. I dunno. My belief only goes so far.

There are other good things. Craig Robinson gives a great supporting performance, and Jason Mewes does the best non-Jay work of his acting career. Seriously, give him a little direction and point a camera, and Jason Mewes can make you laugh until you don’t know math anymore. There are a few bright spots. But not enough to rate this any higher among Kevin Smith movies.

10. Red State, 2011

Hey, remember 10 years ago when Kevin Smith stood in front of the Sundance Film Festival? And he basically doused himself in kerosene, set his career on fire, and somehow didn’t understand why this didn’t work? Like, at all? I remember it. I was a 28-year-old idiot who thought it was just the best thing. It wasn’t. Like, at all. Luckily, Smith has enough of a name for this not to have completely slaughtered his career. Unfortunately, the movie went largely unnoticed. Which is a shame, because it remains one of my favorite Kevin Smith movies.

For the first time, Kevin Smith made a movie that – say it with me – looked like a movie.

The premise is something that doesn’t age particularly well. That’s a trend when it comes to Kevin Smith movies. Michael Parks plays the leader of an isolated hate church. A spin on the Westboro Baptist Church. Remember, those jerks that protested funerals? Anyway, the idea basically, “What if the WBC ran out of funerals to protest?” Smith’s answer? “Well, they’d make their own funerals.” The church lures in what they perceive as sexual deviants via not-Craigslist. And they subsequently judge and murder them, making for more funerals to protest and more media coverage.

Through a series of wacky misunderstandings, the cult shoots to the top of the ATF’s watch list and a Waco-inspired shootout ensues. Speaking of premises that don’t age well. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting premise with some great hammy acting from Parks. And John Goodman is great as the ATF agent overseeing the whole debacle. The script takes enough unexpected hard lefts to keep things interesting. Actually, I’m not entirely convinced Rian Johnson didn’t see this movie and just write “subvert expectations!” about a billion times in his notebook.

The action is a little clunky, but the editing is frenetic enough to hide Smith’s weaknesses as a visual storyteller. It ends with a not-quite-literal Deus ex Machina, but it makes sense in the context of the story. Plus, it was nice to see that Smith did his homework on cinema. Something that’s important for – what’s it called again, oh yes – a filmmaker.

9. Jersey Girl, 2003

How I judge a movie is pretty simple. I just ask a handful of questions. Did this movie achieve what it set out to accomplish? Are characters making logical choices within the context of the movie? Does it make me miserable? Let’s ask those questions of Jersey Girl. Yes, for the most part, and no. I assume Jersey Girl is close to the bottom of most peoples’ Kevin Smith movies lists.

It’s the movie that made Smith question the Hollywood system. And it indirectly lead to Clerks II. But you know what else? Hang on before you charge with those torches and pitchforks. I think it’s actually pretty good. It isn’t great, let’s not be ridiculous. But it’s pretty good.

Ben Affleck plays a widower who meltdowned his way out of a prominent PR job with a verbal tirade about Will Smith of all people. How dare you, Ben, he’s delightful. Anyway, now he’s raising his 6-year-old daughter Gertie with the help of his crabby dad, George Carlin in his best acting role. Along the way, he gets into a meet-cute with Liv Tyler and learns to love again or something. And it ends with him turning down a chance to get back into his dream line of work to see his daughter’s school play. Also, love conquers all and he gets the girl.

It sets out to be a silly feel-good dramedy. Check box one. Affleck’s daughter is the last remaining vestige of his old life. He stays in his dead-end job and ditches the dream job to make her happy. And he makes himself happy along the way. Check box two. I chuckle when the movie wants me to, and I feel sad or happy when the movie wants me to. It doesn’t make me miserable. Check box three.

Jersey Girl isn’t perfect, to be sure. The eureka moment near the end of the movie is a little silly. And there’s an exchange between Affleck and his six-year-old daughter that I have difficulty buying. Maybe that’s just me. Good enough, says I. Just good enough to put this in that middling territory of Kevin Smith movies.

8. Tusk, 2014

Tusk is stupid. It is just unapologetically stupid. The movie has a stupid premise, it’s populated by stupid characters, and its stupid characters make stupid choices. Tusk misses the above-mentioned boxes except for one. It doesn’t make me miserable. And it flips that switch in my brain that enjoys stupid, stupid things, and I kind of love it. Tusk is the so-bad-it’s-good of Kevin Smith movies. I cannot say this enough. It is so incredibly stupid.

Justin Long plays Wallace, a scumbag podcaster who basically does a schadenfreude podcast. It delights in making light of other peoples’ misfortunes. Wallace makes a trip to Canada to do research on the movie universe’s version of the Star Wars kid. Good lord, Smith was a good ten years late on this. Like, Star Wars kid was from the infancy of YouTube. MySpace was still a thing when Star Wars kid was a thing. Anyway, this universe’s version is the Kill Bill kid. A chubby kid who accidentally hacks himself up with a samurai sword. By the time Wallace gets there, though, the kid is dead. Lovely.

He still needs a story, so he answers an ad from a crazy old man (Michael Parks) with a story to tell about a walrus. The old man drugs Wallace, cuts his legs off, and reveals a plan to turn Wallace into a literal walrus. I’m sorry, what? Yeah, he was shipwrecked in his youth, and his only friend was a walrus. So he’s gonna sew Wallace into a walrus suit made of human flesh. Oh, and he sanded Wallace’s severed femurs into tusks and surgically inserts them into Wallace’s mouth. And the movie ends with Wallace, now mentally broken and a literal walrus, and the old man in his own walrus suit.

I just typed all of those things. And all of those things were filmed and edited and put into one of the weirdest Kevin Smith movies ever. There are some genuinely creepy things. The walrus suit is horrifying, with blink-and-you’ll-miss-them details like noses, lips, eyes, and teeth. Michael Parks chews the scenery, and Long is suitably over-the-top. It’s an awful movie, and I don’t think I can really explain why I enjoy it so much unless I know I’m telling someone who’s seen it. And not many people have seen it. With good reason. It’s awful and stupid.

But I love it. I love it as much as anything from the classic era of Kevin Smith movies.

7. Mallrats, 1995

Mallrats was a movie ahead of its time. Not so much because it was some kind of genre-bending work of art the world wasn’t ready for. It’s a descendant of teen sex comedies like Porky’s. But it’s just so, so very 90s. Like, if Mallrats was made today – and I mean made for the first time, not remade – it would be the gold standard of 90s nostalgia. It would be the American Graffiti or Dazed And Confused of today. As it is, it’s remembered as one of those Kevin Smith movies that was a horrible misstep. And in a way, it was. It’s basically just Clerks in a mall.

It was too soon and too rushed for this to be Kevin Smith’s second movie. And it came very, very close to ending Smith’s career as a writer/director. To the point that he had to fight tooth and nail to get his next film, Chasing Amy, made at all.

Best buds Brodie (Jason Lee) and TS (Jeremy London) break up with their girlfriends on the same day. So they head to the mall to shop their cares away. Unfortunately, TS’s ex Brandi (Claire Forlani) is the contestant on her TV producer dad’s ripoff of ‘The Dating Game.’ Which happens to be filming in the mall. Meanwhile, Brodie’s ex Rene (Shannen Doherty) is now seeing the date rapey guy who works at the men’s fashion store (Ben Affleck). They enlist Jay and Silent Bob to help them get their girls back and wackiness ensues.

There’s not much to Mallrats. It’s all about goofy pratfalls and clever, vulgar Kevin Smith dialogue. And it’s historically significant for having the first Stan Lee cameo that most people remember. He basically plays Wolfman Jack to Brodie’s Richard Dreyfuss. It’s just dumb, stupid fun. Nothing to see here, nothing to write home about. But without the failure of Mallrats, we wouldn’t get the Kevin Smith movies to follow.

6. Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back, 2001

Kevin Smith missed his calling. The guy should have been a pro wrestling promoter. Because he understands something that Vince McMahon doesn’t. Sometimes you have to give the people what they want. After four movies with Jay and Silent Bob as background players, the fans were ready for the headline their own movie.

This is where some wrestling sensibility kicks in. You have to, on the surface, give your fans what they want. But you have to do so and also protect the limitations of your stars. In this case, Mewes and Smith, who are not proper actors. Though Mewes fairs suitably well. There have to be enough smoke and mirrors surrounding your leads to keep your audience interested in the non-characters playing – essentially – non-characters. Yeah, no, Jay and Silent Bob aren’t characters. They are, as the movie makes clear in one of many self-aware moments, f’ing clown shoes. Interludes between a real movie’s set pieces.

In fact, this is where Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back excels. A lot of people like to chalk up the movie’s creative successes to the Hollywood satire. But the secret to the success of this Kevin Smith movie is pretty simple. There’s a real movie going on, and Jay and Silent Bob accidentally wander in to it. They start out hitchhiking to Hollywood to stop production on the Bluntman And Chronic movie. B&C are an in-universe comic book based on Jay and Bob’s likenesses. The movie was greenlit without their knowledge. While hitching to Hollywood, they find themselves picked up by animal rights activists. Who, in turn, are using the animal rights smoke screen to pull off an international jewel heist.

Then you have pre-Anchorman pre-Elf Will Farrell as the movie’s bumbling Boba Fett, a wildlife marshal who mistakes Jay and Bob for literal terrorists. And cameo after cameo from Smith’s previous movies, with both Jason Lee and Ben Affleck playing multiple roles. The movie is sophomoric, and it’s more than a little stupid, but guess what? It works. Smith wrote a love letter to himself and to his fans, and somehow it doesn’t come off as self-congratulating or self-aggrandizing. It’s a goofy story that makes just enough sense to not fall apart with enough lowbrow humor to keep the thing moving. This might be the best pure comedy of all Kevin Smith movies.

5. Dogma, 1999

Kevin Smith movies up to this point didn’t exactly scream “high concept.” Dogma is a really fun movie with an important, personal story that Kevin Smith simply was not ready to tell. It’s a literal heaven-and-hell epic that Kevin Smith just didn’t have the real-life or cinematic experience to make.

Ben Affleck and Matt Damon (remember when they were in everything?) play angels doomed to spend eternity in Wisconsin after denouncing God in the aftermath of the plagues. But then they get their ticket back in. A Catholic church in New Jersey is set to celebrate its centennial. The Pope sanctions a sanctification rite for the event, allowing anyone who passes through the church’s arches a morally clean slate. All the angels have to do is become human, walk into the church, and die. Then they get to go back to heaven. But there’s a problem. Getting back in reverses God’s decree, which will basically causes existence to fold in on itself.

With God MIA (no, seriously, heaven can’t find God), the angel Metatron (the late Alan Rickman) seeks out the last descendent of Christ. Which is a stretch since she (Linda Fiorentino) lost her faith years ago and currently works at an abortion clinic. Luckily, heaven sets her up with some back-up. Jay and Silent Bob get enlisted as prophets of the Lord, and they hook up with Rufus (Chris Rock) – the thirteenth apostle, left out of the Bible because he’s black. Oh, and also Jesus was black. There’s a lot to unpack here.

From a story and dialogue standpoint, Dogma is a really strong movie. There’s never a point where you don’t know what’s happening. The movie looks pretty good, but the budget was Smith’s enemy, as it was in most early Kevin Smith movies. They had just enough effects money to make a couple practical effects and a handful of digital effects look pretty passable. But the staging of the action bits is sloppy, with sticom blocking and shoddy editing. But the story and the acting carry this thing all the way to the finish. And despite its limitations, Dogma ages really well.

If only Smith had made it five or so years later. It would probably sit at the top of the rankings among Kevin Smith movies.

4. Clerks, 1994

Oh, calm down. Seriously calm the hell down.

Here’s the thing about Clerks. It is an achievement in guerilla filmmaking. The material, the script, the slightly-better-than-it-should-be acting. Everything in this movie makes it crystal clear why it was the rocket boost to start Kevin Smith’s career. And to this day, it holds up in enough of the right ways to make you understand how it spawned 12 more Kevin Smith movies. But it doesn’t work for everybody at every age. What kind of argument is that, you ask? It isn’t a movie that ages with its audience.

You have to be at a very specific age at a very specific point of your life for Clerks to really make an impact on you. For example, I first saw Clerks on VHS in 1997. I was fifteen years old, turning into a smarmy little jerk who watches “films” and not “movies.” And I was looking for material to fuel my belief that my 20s would be awful. Clerks is that medicine you need at that specific point in your life. The older you get, though, the more cracks show in the armor. For one thing, the main protagonist, Dante (Brian O’Halloran) is whiney. Okay, big deal, 90s protagonists were whiney. But Dante is mopey enough to make early Luke Skywalker like, “Dude, get over it.”

Thank the heavens for Jeff Anderson’s performance as Randall. Ironically, Anderson was the only cast member who wasn’t an actor. Well, the only cast member not named Jason Mewes or Kevin Smith who wasn’t an actor. And the little interludes with Jay and Silent Bob hanging around outside Dante’s convenience store are fantastic. But when the climax of the movie is Randall basically tearing apart every decision Dante made during the previous 89 minutes with no real resolution? That’s not an open-ended “indie finish.” That’s a sloppy finish. It’s a cop out (heh) ending.

But there are things that are legitimately great about Clerks. The conversational dialogue is spot on. And this movie has a killer soundtrack.

It’s where it all begins. But that doesn’t earn it a higher spot among Kevin Smith movies.

'Jay and Silent Bob Reboot' ranks surprisingly high on our list of Kevin Smith movies

3. Jay And Silent Bob Reboot, 2019

This one hits me right where I live. See, Jay And Silent Bob Reboot is a magic trick of a movie. On the surface, it’s an indictment of soft reboot culture in the movie industry, ala Jurassic World or the Star Wars sequels. And it’s a thumb-at-the-nose to some trends in comic book movies. Batman V. Superman, they’re talking about you, bro. But when you dig a little deeper, it has a real heart, as most good Kevin Smith movies are. It’s a movie about fatherhood and the realization of missed opportunities.

When Jay and Silent Bob accidentally sign away their likeness rights (again), Hollywood greenlights a big-budget sequel to the Bluntman And Chronic movie: Bluntman V. Chronic. The stoner duo sets out to shut down the movie, but this time they have a tag-a-long. Jay’s daughter Millennium, middle-name Falcon (played by Harley Quinn Smith). But Milly’s mom (Shannon Elizabeth) insists that Jay not reveal himself as Milly’s dad. In short, it’s a fart joke road movie with Jay and Bob out to shut down a movie (directed by this universe’s Kevin Smith) while Jay does a “Cat’s In The Cradle” with his daughter.

Smith uses his real-life near-death experience in 2017 as a lens to look back at his career. And with the angle with himself and Milly, a lens to look back at his life. Everything gets tied up in a heart-tugging bow when Jay comes face-to-face with Holden (we’ll get to him), the creator of Bluntman and Chronic. They have a heart-to-heart about fatherhood that may well be the best soliloquy Kevin Smith has ever written. And the dude has written a lot of them. A couple cheapshots at Batman V Superman from Batman himself breaks it up and prevents it from becoming full-on maudlin melodrama. It’s a beautiful scene that really elevates this from wacky comedy to real, heartfelt wacky comedy.

I came very, very close to putting this at the top of our list of Kevin Smith movies. The satire bits don’t land quite as strongly as they did in Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back. And the celebrity cameos and the wacky chase through the ComicCon where the movie is premiering is a little disjointed. But there’s enough heart and farts sprinkled throughout in even measures to keep this movie alive and thriving. It’s legitimately one of my favorite comedies of the last ten years and one of my favorite Kevin Smith movies.

2. Chasing Amy, 1997

There are elements of Chasing Amy that simply did not age well. For one thing, indie comics weren’t set up to set the world on fire forever. Oh, and also, there are some LGBTQ+-centric jokes that come across as kind of problematic through a modern lens. But it was and remains the best depiction of male insecurity ever put on screen.

Holden (Ben Affleck) and Banky (Jason Lee) are best buddies and the creators of super hot indie comic book Bluntman And Chronic. While at a convention in New York, Holden gets smitten with Alyssa (Joey Lauren Adams), another comic creator who seems to be all about flirting with Holden. But oh no, never-left-his-small-town Holden realizes that Alyssa is a lesbian. She likes girls, and she doesn’t like boys. They have a heart-to-heart and resolve to remain friends until Holden can’t keep it in anymore. He’s in love with Alyssa. After a pretty fierce argument, Alyssa can’t fight it anymore either. She’s in love with Holden, and they start dating.

Banky, as best friends tend to be, is jealous of losing Holden’s attention. There’s something he just doesn’t trust about Alyssa. Holden’s not hearing it, because he’s basking in the victory of being the first man Alyssa’s ever been with. Banky keeps digging and finds out that he’s far from the first man she’s ever been with. Indeed, in high school, Alyssa made more than a few of what the kids call the rounds. The kids don’t call them that, and they never have. I’m not entirely sure why I said that. But this drives a huge wedge, as Holden can’t reconcile his feelings with Alyssa’s worldly experiences.

It’s a deep look at sexual relationships. And while its general depiction of the LGBTQ+ community doesn’t age too well, it’s a conversation well worth having today. As acceptance and understanding of sex and gender identities expands every day, Chasing Amy stands up pretty well as a film that puts a light on how far we’ve come. It isn’t offensive, but there are so many moments where this movie was clearly written by a hetero cis man who didn’t know all that much about people who weren’t hetero cis men. Ultimately, that isn’t the point.

The movie is about accepting your partner and everything that comes along with them. And realizing that for all the journeys they’ve gone through, they picked you. She picked you of all people, Ben Affleck, you lanky goof! And, like all Kevin Smith movies, it’s about the complexity of male friendship. I do think Chasing Amy takes a bit of a leap by suggesting that all male friendships have inherent sexual tension, but it was a bold step to take and an interesting way to look at a dynamic that Smith studied almost to death in Clerks and Mallrats.

It’s one of the best Kevin Smith movies. But it isn’t the best Kevin Smith movie.

1. Clerks II, 2006

In 2006, I was apoplectic when I found out there would be a sequel to Clerks. Also, I was 24 in 2006 and still convinced of Clerks status as a cult classic that would endure and hold up for all of time. It was a strong, independent movie, and it don’t need no sequel! Then I saw the movie. It instantly became and remains my favorite of all Kevin Smith movies.

The movie opens with Dante arriving to work at the convenience store and finding it on fire. His headquarters of his 20s, the formative place of his adult life, is gone forever. Flash forward a few months, and Dante and Randall have a gig as fry cooks at Mooby’s, the big fast food joint in the View Askewniverse. Dante is ready to move to Florida with his new fiancée (Jennier Schwalbach-Smith, Kevin Smith’s wife) to start a new life, finally putting the indignity of his Jersey life behind him. Randall is having a tough time dealing with both the loss of Dante and the Quick Stop. But Dante can’t just up and leave.

He finds out that he and the store manager Becky (Rosario Dawson) made them a baby a while back, and Becky is carrying it. Also, Dante is in denial about actually loving Becky, because he’s desperate to ditch New Jersey and start anew. Along the way, Randall bullies the ever-living-crap out of their sheepish super-Christian Transformers fan Elias (Trevor Fehrman), and he arranges a donkey show (wait, what?) for Dante’s going-away party. There are the Jay and Silent Bob interludes from the original but with a twist. See, Jay and Bob have gone clean (mirroring Mewes’s real-life temporary sobriety), but they still sell weed.

There’s so much happening in this movie, and Kevin Smith manages it all so well without getting bogged down in any of it. It’s easily the funniest movie he’s ever made, with Jeff Anderson at his ball-busting best as Randall. The Anne Frank/Helen Keller conversation is the stuff of comedy gold. Clerks II also has the best ensemble performance out of all of the Kevin Smith movies. And this is from a director that had Ben Affleck, Jason Lee, Alan Rickman, Matt Damon, and Linda Fiorentino in the same movie. Here he’s working with a bunch of amateurs and puts together a movie that feels real.

Also, it has my favorite dance scene of any movie ever. “ABC” by the Jackson Five became my all-time favorite pop song as a result of Clerks II. It’s the ultimate fart joke movie with a heart. And while it’s at it, it finds time to be a story of being in your 30s and not quite having found yourself or your purpose yet. It’s got it all, and it is, quite simply, the best of the bunch when it comes to Kevin Smith movies.

Still images courtesy of Lionsgate.