Kevin Smith re-edits ‘Mallrats’ for DVD
For better or worse, Kevin Smith lets it all hang out. That’s why he just restored the worst version of his biggest failure for the 10th Anniversary Extended Edition of Mallrats.
“It’s not very good,” the 35-year-old New Jersey filmmaker told The Toronto Sun with a mischievous chuckle in a telephone interview from his home in Red Bank.
The newly re-edited version of Mallrats restores the long, rambling prologue to the movie that was in his shooting script, Smith says. It also extends the overall running time by 37 minutes and turns the comedy into a shambling (if occasionally brilliant and funny) mess. For example, it now takes about half an hour for Jason Lee, as the lovable slacker, to drag his butt to the mall.
“If people didn’t like this movie, this DVD is not going to make them like it any more,” Smith says. “It’ll make them go: ‘See, we were right!'”
So why the paradoxical delight in presenting this version of his second movie, the controversial link between the hits Clerks and Chasing Amy?
First of all, Smith says, fans can, on the same DVD, opt for the original, 95-minute theatrical release, the one that became a cult favourite. Every possible extra has now been jammed in. This is it for Mallrats.
“What I’ve always liked about the collection format,” Smith says of the appeal of video, laserdisc and now DVD, “is the idea that you can present all this stuff and nothing is wasted. Because, not for nothing did we spend two or three days shooting all that opening footage. And, even though it doesn’t work, I would hate to see it sit on a shelf somewhere in a corner when you could put it out.
“There are movies like the first Spider-man that had a bunch of cut footage that they didn’t wind up putting out on the DVD. I found that disappointing because I would like to see what they felt didn’t work about that movie.
“I’m just not one of those people who say: ‘Let’s bury the mistake!’ I think I’m more like, ‘Let’s show everybody how stupid we were!’ ”
Re-editing Mallrats also turned out to be an invaluable learning tool, as was making the movie in the first place.
“The thing I walked away with on this 10th anniversary DVD was how rankly amateurish we were going into Mallrats. It was weird being in the middle of that footage. Both Mosier (producer Scott Mosier) and I were just like: ‘My God, we were terrible!’
“And it was especially nice to do it in advance of shooting the next movie. We’re doing Clerks 2 next.”
Smith & company matured as a filmmaking team, Smith says. “Clerks is a first movie. The movie is what it is because of its budget and us being nascent filmakers. Mallrats really was a film school to a large degree, the film school I dropped out of (in Vancouver). It was where I learned, oh, we need coverage (alternate angles and closeups in scenes); and we need to be a lot more visually interesting; and it’s not about turning on a camera and letting things happen in front of it.
“Unfortunately, it cost them $6 million to teach me all that, which I could have done a lot cheaper by going to NYU (New York University) film school. But it would have taken me far more time. So, yeah, it was kind of invaluable. I used to pick on Mallrats as the $6-million casting call for Chasing Amy. But it was much, much more. It was us kind of learning what never to do again.”
Too many movie stars made him do Clerks 2
Kevin Smith is doing Clerks 2 to get away from famous movie stars, including his pal Ben Affleck, who co-starred in his last movie Jersey Girl. It is also one of the reasons he walked away from a planned big-screen version of The Green Hornet, Smith tells the Sun.
Says Smith: “The cynical take on it is: ‘Well, Jersey Girl didn’t work so he’s going back to the well.’ And those people are not exactly wrong. It’s just that they’re missing the target but hitting the tree.
“Jersey Girl didn’t work (it bombed at the box office after the latest twist in the Bennifer fuss hit the headlines) but it’s not why I’m going back to Clerks. Coming off Jersey Girl, it’s just that I don’t want to work with famous people for a while. I don’t like having a movie that is kind of at the mercy of the people that you’ve cast.
“Jersey Girl, I don’t think it’s the rule but it’s not quite the exception. It was tough to watch that movie getting brought down by somebody’s relationship, something that I have no (control) over. So Jersey Girl did have an influence on me doing Clerks 2 but it wasn’t the obvious.”
As for The Green Hormet, it was the famous people problem plus a lack of confidence that he could handle a $70-million production. “Green Hornet was a bit of that, but it was more than this movie is way too big for someone like me. I don’t have enough talent to pull that off.”
Kevin Smith re-edits ‘Mallrats’ for DVD