Kevin Smith is a man of many talents and interests. A proficient writer, a skilled comedian, a self-professed comic book aficionado, and a highly inventive creative mind, Smith has earned a reputation as one of the most original filmmakers currently today. In a career spanning just over 30 years, he’s managed to amass a loyal following of fans for his brilliant films, paving his own succinct cinematic universe in the process.
Breaking into the industry as a young, unknown director from suburban New Jersey, Smith helped change the industry format for independent films with his breakout sensation, Clerks (now recognized by the Library of Congress for its cultural, historical, and aesthetic significance).
From such humble beginnings, Smith gained traction in the business as a creative auteur, overseeing plans for his own interconnected universe known as the View Askewniverse. Far from being a simple one trick pony alone, Smith has also directed numerous other movies outside of his cinematic universe, including horror, romantic comedies, and fantasy films.
From his earliest career success with Clerks to the so-so films of his later career, here’s every one of Kevin Smith’s movies, ranked from best to worst.
Over the course of a day, best friends/store clerks Dante (Brian O’Halloran) and Randal (Jeff Anderson) experience the headaches that come with their job, including annoying customers, malfunctioning store equipment, and problems stemming from their romantic relationships.
It’s impossible to overstate how important Clerks was for the growth of the indie film movement. A marvel of 1990s low-budget cinema alongside other influential movies Reservoir Dogs, Slacker, and Pi, it proved you didn’t need an extensive budget or valuable connections in the industry to make a film. All you needed was a strong script, an affordable camera, and some trusty friends by your side, and suddenly you have the potential to make a truly great film.
Holden (Ben Affleck) and his best friend Banky (Jason Lee) are two comic book artists who meet Amy (Joey Lauren Adams), a colleague in their field, at a comic book convention. Immediately smitten with Amy, Holden’s hopes for a relationship are thrown into jeopardy when he learns she is a lesbian.
A romantic comedy by way of Kevin Smith might seem like an odd combination. But with Smith’s superior writing abilities coupled with some superb performances from its cast, Chasing Amy goes from a potentially disastrous-sounding rom com into something lighter, funnier, and surprisingly more emotional. After his admittedly weaker second film with Mallrats, Chasing Amy cemented his reputation as a filmmaker, showing audiences that he was here to stay.
When two exiled angels (Ben Affleck and Matt Damon) discover a loophole in Catholic dogma that would allow them to enter Heaven, the universe itself is put into jeopardy. Choosing a savior from the masses, God selects an ordinary abortion clinic worker (Linda Fiorentino) to stop the two from completing their plan.
Though firmly embedded in Smith’s cinematic universe, Dogma is single-handedly unlike any other film directed by Smith. Satirizing Catholicism and the Catholic Church, it utilizes a wide web of stories and characters derived from the Bible and Smith’s previous films, featuring notable appearances from the demon Azrael (Jason Lee), the angel Metatron (Alan Rickman), and Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Smith, respectively).
Recently let go from their longtime positions as store clerks, Dante (Brian O’Halloran) and Randal (Jeff Anderson) find new jobs at the fast food restaurant, Mooby’s, using their newfound employment to examine the direction their lives are headed.
With how universally well-received Clerks was, Smith seemed like he was treading on uncertain ground when it came time for a sequel. Fortunately, with a larger budget and assortment of stars at his disposal (like Rosario Dawson, Wanda Sykes, and Ben Affleck), Clerks II ultimately prevailed, boasting just as much humor and comic book-centric dialogue as the original.
Coming to terms with the end of their previous relationships, two best friends (Jason Lee and Jeremy London) spend their time at their local mall, looking to distract themselves from their romantic failures.
After Clerks, Smith embarked on his second entry in the View Askewniverse with Mallrats. Not nearly revolutionary as Smith’s debut, Mallrats has enough of a lightweight charm to satisfy most viewers, quickly becoming a well-loved cult classic in the years since its release.
Zack and Miri Make a Porno
In desperate need of some quick cash, lifelong best friends Zack (Seth Rogen) and Miri (Elizabeth Banks) decide to make an adult film together, discovering long-dormant feelings for each other along the way.
Judging from its humor, romantic undertones, and main cast listing, Zack and Miri Make a Porno seems more like a Judd Apatow film than it does a Kevin Smith movie. A humorously raunchy film nearly on par with the excellence of Chasing Amy, it doesn’t necessarily have the same strong narrative as that aforementioned film, but the chemistry between Rogen and Banks make it well worth watching.
Suffering a heart attack, the now middle-aged Randal (Jeff Anderson) gains a new lease on life, deciding to make a movie with his best friends Dante (Brian O’Halloran) and Elias (Trevor Fehrman) about their formative years as clerks.
Smith’s most recent film, Clerks III marks what very well might be the final entry in Smith’s Clerks trilogy (although it’s unlikely we’ve seen the last of Anderson’s trash-talking, ornery video store clerk, Randal). Packing a surprising amount of emotion, Clerks III may not match the humor or originality of its two preceding films, but it serves as a fond farewell to the series that made Smith an overnight success in the first place.
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back
Peeved that they’ve been cheated out of a lucrative payday when a movie starring their fictional counterparts is green-lit for production, Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith) depart for Los Angeles to sabotage the movie’s production.
With how popular Smith’s breakout characters Jay and Silent Bob had proven to be with audiences in the ‘90s, it seemed only a matter of time before they received their own feature film. The resulting effort proved to be one of Smith’s most ambitious, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back serving as the director’s most full-fledged exploration of his View Askewniverse, as seen from the appearances from Mallrats' Brodie, Chasing Amy’s Holden, and Clerks’ Dante and Randal.
In the Midwest, a trio of teenagers (Kyle Gallner, Michael Angarano, and Nicholas Braun) are captured and held hostage by members of a fanatical cult. As they prepare to sacrifice the young men in a holy ceremony, the church is besieged by AFT agents, leading to a tense stand-off between the two groups.
There’s a lot going on in Red State, Smith’s follow-up to his critically panned 2010 film, Cop Out. Essentially two films in one, he might’ve been better off splitting the movie in two rather than cramming a teen horror film into a hostage-crisis movie. Because of this, the movie tends to feel bloated and overstuffed – though Smith manages to usher some great performances out of Michael Parks, Stephen Root, and John Goodman.
Jay and Silent Bob Reboot
Accidentally signing away their legal rights to their fictional comic book counterparts, Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith) race to Los Angeles to stop a movie featuring their likeness from being made.
After his disappointing work on Tusk and Yoga Hosers, Smith returned to the View Askewniverse with his 2019 film, Jay and Silent Bob Reboot. A tongue-in-cheek remake of his own Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, like Smith’s 2001 film, Jay and Silent Bob Reboot offers fans another fanciful journey into Smith’s cinematic universe, even if it does little else to distinguish itself from Smith’s previous Jay and Silent Bob movie.
After his wife passes away in childbirth, an influential New York publicist (Ben Affleck) tries to raise his daughter (Raquel Castro) with the help of his father (George Carlin).
Smith’s first film outside the View Askewniverse, Jersey Girl is a surprisingly orthodox romantic comedy bearing little of Smith’s creative signatures. The experiment didn’t exactly pay off, with critics demolishing the film upon its release (not to mention taking a critical beating at the box office).
Looking for an interesting subject for an interview, a podcast host (Justin Long) agrees to a conversation with an enigmatic man (Michael Parks) who has a deep-seated obsession with a beloved walrus from his past.
Tusk marks another attempt by Smith to start his own cinematic universe, a Canadian foil to his New Jersey-centric View Askewniverse. Unfortunately, Tusk and its spiritual successor Yoga Hosers don’t come anywhere close to matching the worst the View Askewniverse has to offer. It’s low on jokes, short on scares, and – despite an occasional glimmer of promise here and there – is without a doubt one of Smith’s worst efforts to date.
Colleen Collette (Lily-Rose Depp) and Colleen McKenzie (Harley Quinn Smith) are two best friends living in Winnipeg who spend a majority of their time doing yoga and distracting themselves on their phones. Navigating the awkward waters of high school social cliques, the Colleens soon came face to face with an undead evil menacing their community.
The second entry in Smith’s ongoing True North trilogy, Yoga Hosers is only slightly below the series’ previous entry (Tusk) in terms of quality and its lackadaisical humor. Neither funny nor scary, Smith plays with some interesting ideas in his script – the inclusion of Johnny Depp’s Guy LaPointe from Tusk and the sinister real-life Canadian Nazi Adrien Arcand, first and foremost – but it gets mangled beyond repair in its final delivery.
After the prized baseball card he was planning on selling to finance his daughter’s wedding is stolen, a New York police officer (Bruce Willis) and his partner (Tracy Morgan) set out to track the thieves down.
The first and so far only movie Smith didn’t personally work on the script for, Cop Out is perhaps most famous for the notorious backstage animosity that existed between Smith and his main star, Bruce Willis. While it’s easy to blame the two’s turbulent attitude towards one another behind the scenes for Cop Out’s lack of success, there’s no scenario where a movie as painfully unfunny, cliché, and sluggishly paced as this one would’ve worked out well.
Richard Chachowski is an entertainment and travel writer who has written for such publications as Wealth of Geeks, Looper, Screen Rant, Fangoria, and Sportskeeda, among many others. He received his BA from The College of New Jersey and has been a professional writer since 2020. His geeky areas of interest include Star Wars, travel writing, horror, video games, comic books, literature, and animation.
Richard has been an avid consumer of movies, television, books, and pop culture since he was four-years-old. Raised on a diverse mix of Clint Eastwood Westerns, Star Wars, sci-fi and horror films, Alan Moore comics, and Stephen King novels, he eventually turned his various passions into a creative outlet, writing about film, television, literature, comics, and gaming for his high school and college newspapers. A traveling enthusiast, Richard has also managed to create a career out of journeying abroad, venturing to such awe-inspiring places as the Sonoran Desert of Mexico, the rainforests of Costa Rica, and the scenic coastline of Haiti. Upon graduating from TCNJ, Richard set his sights on a career in journalism, writing extensively about the art of traveling and the entertainment medium for various online publications. When he’s not busy making his way through The Criterion Collection, he can be found either reading or planning a trip somewhere (preferably someplace with a scenic hiking trail).