When Kevin Smith followed up the critically acclaimed indie film Clerks with his studio picture debut, Mallrats, he took an unholy shellacking from the critics and a beating at the box office.
But 10 years later, the unjustly maligned Mallrats enjoys cult status and is getting its second DVD treatment.
In this interview, Smith talked to the Weekly about the new DVD, upcoming projects and a great film idea that will never happen.
The new Mallrats DVD has an extended cut which you have deemed "The Version That Shouldn't Exist." Why?
It's just way too long. When we got done with the first cut of the movie, (producer) Scott Mosier and I were like (defiantly), "A two-hour comedy called Mallrats where they don't get to the mall until a half-hour in will work theatrically!" We believed that--until we had our first test screening, and the fucking audience just obliterated the movie. As a result of the test screening, we shot a new beginning, the scene that opens the theatrical cut of the movie, and we were off and running. And then it was all for naught anyway, because the movie only made $2 million. The extended cut on the DVD is the version we showed at the test screening.
Any chance for an extended version of Dogma?
I got a call from Columbia TriStar saying they'd like to do an extended version DVD of Dogma. I told them the current DVD already has all the cut scenes. Granted, they're a shitty version of them, off a VHS, but the cut scenes are pretty much there. They said they'd like to put the cut scenes back into the movie, and give me a budget to do the hell sequence. There was one moment in a speech that Jason Lee was giving where he turns to Linda Fiorentino, says something like, "Would you like to see what hell looks like?" and covers her eyes. In the script, it was, like, five seconds of the most grisly, horrible, inhuman footage known to man. We never did it because we ended up cutting most of the scene. So Columbia said they'll give me the money to create that sequence. We shot An Evening With Kevin Smith 2: Evening Harder, and the DVD comes out next year. Rather than wait for the 10th anniversary of Dogma, they want to sell those two right around the same time together. So the Dogma extended version will be coming out next year.
The slapstick in Mallrats, especially the stuff with Jay and Silent Bob, has an Abbott and Costello/Marx Brothers vibe. When Jay and Silent Bob square off against the shit demon in Dogma, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein comes to mind.
I'll let you in on a funny little secret that I don't think I've ever told anybody, but since it'll never come to fruition, here it is: After we did Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Bob Weinstein called me one night about midnight, and he goes (in his best Weinstein voice), "I have a brilliant idea. You know the arc of classic comedy teams? First, they start off in another movie, then they get their own movie? What did they then do?" And I was like, "Uhh ... retired?" And he says, "No, think about it. What did Abbott and Costello do eventually? They met monsters, right?" And I'm like, "Bob, do you want to make a Jay and Silent Bob-meet-monsters movie?" And he's like, "I've got Hellraiser; I've got Children of the Corn, and I've got Michael Myers ... Halloween. So you put Jay and Silent Bob in with those guys." So for about five minutes, we all mulled over Jay and Silent Bob Meet Michael Myers. My favorite was the idea where Jay and Silent Bob meet Hellraiser, where they find the box, and their version of hell is they wind up in rehab. It will never come to pass, but I thought that was kind of funny. Bob wasn't wrong. The arc exists in cinema history, but I just don't know if we were necessarily meant to be part of that arc.
Oh man ... I want Jay and Silent Bob to meet Pinhead.
I told Affleck that story once, who stared at me blankly for about 10 seconds and goes, "You know, at first I was going to say that's fucking retarded, but I bet you a lot of people would go to see that movie."
After Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, you said you were done with the characters. Now they will be returning in Clerks 2. Why the change of heart?
I had kind of had it up to here with Jason Mewes, who had a pretty bad drug problem in those days. But then Mewes cleaned up, so that kind of brightened the future for any possible View Askew movies. Then we worked on the Clerks X DVD, and fell in love with the characters again. After Jersey Girl, it was just like, "I don't want to work with fucking movie stars anymore. I want to work with real people like Jeff Anderson and Brian O'Halloran again just for fun. So it all kind of led to reopening the book, so to speak. I don't want to oversell it, but Clerks 2 is really, really fucking funny.
There's a Mallrats reunion on the new DVD where Mewes seems much clearer and together.
Yeah, he's certainly far better to be around. Back in the days, it was like talking to a zombie. When he was on the heroin and the OxyContins, he didn't have any endorphins rocking in his body. Everything was dulled down, and you couldn't get a good laugh out of him. Now, if you make him laugh, he can't breathe; the vein in his temple pops out, like he's sincerely laughing, because he has highs and lows now. There are some people who might say, "Well, if he's going to stop doing drugs, if he's cleaning up, he's not going to be Jay anymore." Let me tell you something: The kid wasn't doing drugs when we started. He was Jay then, and he'll be Jay now.
There's a hilarious special feature on Mallrats where you answer predictable questions about DVDs.
They wanted to put together an in-store reel for places like Best Buy and Blockbuster. So they gave me some questions that were so dry, and I didn't quite understand what they wanted from me. I didn't know that they meant to literally send these responses to mainstream video stores. So I just kind of answered them very sarcastically. At the end, they were like, "It's really funny, but none of that is useable for our purposes." Then they described what they wanted, and I was like, "Oh shit; I didn't get that. I'm sorry." I asked if we could put it on our DVD, because I think there's some funny shit in there. They said "Well ... are you sure you want to say those things?" I was like "I'm just fucking around."
The make-believe argument you have with your mom during the Q and A, where you refuse to mow the lawn, is brilliant.
I just hope Mom doesn't watch it. My mother is still mortified to some degree by my career. In the beginning, she was more so than now. Now that it has gone on as long as it has, I think she's like, "All right, this is what he does." But in the beginning, when she first saw Clerks, she was like, "People are going to think that I raised you this way ... that I taught you to speak this way." I was like, "Well, I'll try to correct that as I go along, but I don't think anybody in their right mind would believe that you, as a parent, taught me 'cocksucker.'"
So, how about that Premiere magazine article where they list Clerks as one of the most overrated films of all time?
When I first saw that article, I bristled ... but then I looked at the company I was in, and then I thought, "She did me a fucking favor." Look at the list of films ... somebody saying 2001 is overrated; somebody is saying Gone With the Wind is overrated. Then she says that Clerks is overrated. Apparently, she hasn't seen a lot of fucking pictures. I was happy to be included in that list. ... I was very happy they had the pro and con. They had somebody dissing it, than they had somebody saying, "No, this bitch is wrong." So that made it go down better. But being in that company, I have no complaints.
I saw in the 1998 promo clip on Mallrats that you were smoking menthols. Are you still smoking them?
Marlboro Menthol Ultra Lights ... I took off for one full year last year. Then the day after I hit my one-year no-smoking anniversary, I celebrated by smoking again. I had no problem putting it down. I just chewed a lot of Bubble Yum sugarless. But then I was acting in a movie all summer (Catch and Release), and with so much down time on the set because I wasn't in charge, I started smoking again. So once I'm done with Clerks 2, I'm going to quit for good.
It's one thing to smoke, but Marlboro menthols?
As bad as it is to smoke ... this is worse. What can I say? I like fiberglass! It tastes like a Boston Whaler.
Mallrats: 10th Anniversary Extended EditionUniversal Home Video
Special Features A
DVD Geek Factor 8.5 (out of 10)