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If you’ve listened to Kevin Smith's semi-weekly podcasts, you know that after the box office flatline of Zack and Miri Make a Porno the director went through a sort of mid-life crisis. It’s that mid-life crisis that’s driven him away from making the more personal, interesting movies we all expect from him into making A Couple Of Dicks, a standard buddy cop flick written by someone else. In an extensive interview with Huffington Post Kev talks about his change in midset (brought about in part by becoming a total stoner) and about what he’s up to next. What he’s up to next is ditching everything fans have been excited about for years now in favor of doing a hockey movie.
In particular Smith addresses Ranger Danger, the much lusted after sci-fi adventure comedy which he’s teased several times over the years. Where’s that at? Short version: sounds like it’s dead. He says, “I've got a half-finished script for "Ranger Danger", which is kind of a dick and fart joke movie in space and its very funny but I can't fucking finish it. I mean, I could do it, but you'd see a world of difference between the first 50-60 pages and the last 50-60 pages.” Smith believes he’s a completely different person than he was last year when he made Zack and Miri and that’s lead him to his real next project, Hit Somebody.
For those of you who have been out of the View Askew loop, it’s based on a Warren Zevon song about a hockey enforcer. The song is written by, believe it or not, Mitch Albom, who he’s collaborating on with the script for the film. The NHL, not everyman slackers hanging out in coffee shops and convenience stores, is now Kevin Smith’s passion. Here’s where he says it’s at: “It's not like my normal shit. Some people heard of it and were like 'Oh, you're gonna do a 'Slapshot'' and I'm like 'No, I mean it's set in that era [The 70's] but I'm going for something a little else, a little different on this one.”
The movie’s character dreams of being a great superstar scorer, but lacks the talent to do it, and discovers that the only way he can stay in the game is by beating people up. Says Kevin, “The great irony is that he's out there doing the thing he's always dreamed about and loves but not in the way he thought he'd be doing it. It's definitely right up my alley and that's where my head is right now. I think its gonna be kick-ass because when I hear that song... Ah, it reminds me of me.”
The entire Huffington Post interview is a must read if you’re a fan of Kevin’s past work… but prepare to be utterly depressed. Kevin talks a lot about how he’s not an angry young man any more, he’s a rich filmmaker who can’t relate to people buying their own groceries. (EDITOR'S UPDATE! There's been some unintended confusion caused by my fast and loose paraphrasing here, so make sure you read the exact quote from Smith himself: "I'm not in touch with the person I write about anymore. It's been years since I paid my own bills or lived with my parents.") Yet the thing I’ve always admired most about his movies wasn’t the anger but the way he always seemed in touch with real, blue collar people. Now he seems to be tossing all of that out the window in favor of sports movies and shoot-em-ups. I have every confidence that those movies will be good, particularly the ones he writes himself. Kevin’s a genius writer. But there are other people making those movies.
If he stopped making his cop movie tomorrow literally anyone could step in and make that film. Maybe it would be different, maybe it wouldn’t be as good. But buddy cop movies? Underdog sports movies? They’re a dime a dozen. On the other hand, there’s no one else doing what Kevin Smith used to do and now that he’s not doing it there’s no one out there to take his place. Maybe it's for the best, and it's great to see him trying something totally new. Still, rest in peace View Askew, we’ll miss you.