PARK CITY, UTAH — Loyalists swear by the movement he spearheaded with the help of his foot soldiers; others wonder why he still has a job. His common-man persona and disarming grin might be masking a brilliant mind, or he might be as simplistic as his detractors insist. Now, he has returned for a second term that's shaping up as even more controversial than the first.
No, Kevin Smith isn't the president — although the polarizing figures have more in common than one might think. As the famously indie writer/director made the rounds at the Sundance Film Festival to support "Small Town Gay Bar," a documentary he executive produced, Smith admitted with some trepidation that his next mission could go disastrously wrong if he's rushing into a battle that can't be won.
Still, in the form of the upcoming sequel to his breakthrough 1994 comedy he claimed to have substantial weapons of crass production at his disposal.
" 'Clerks 2' came out phenomenally, and I couldn't be happier with it," the bearded, not-so-silent Bob said. "We were really hoping to come to Sundance with it this year, which would have been great because it's the 25th anniversary of Sundance, and it would have been the only sequel to a Sundance film to ever play at Sundance. Then Harvey Weinstein — the chairman of The Weinstein Company, who we produced the movie with — said, 'No, we want to go to Cannes instead.' "
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"The movie itself is kind of a look at what happens when the angry young man enters his thirties. The movie is primarily set in a fast-food joint, but it has so little to do with working in a fast-food joint."
"Brian O'Halloran and Jeff Anderson, who played Dante and Randall in 'Clerks,' are back and Jason Mewes and I play Jay and Silent Bob," Smith continued. "Ben Affleck showed up for a day. Jason Lee came in for a day. Wanda Sykes came in for a day. There's a guy named Earthquake, this really funny comedian, and Kevin Wiseman, who plays Marshall on 'Alias,' he came in."
"There's this kid in the movie, Trevor Fehrman, who's really funny," Smith said. "I think he's gonna pop in a really big way off this film. Rosario Dawson's in the movie; she's one of the main characters. My wife, Jennifer Schwalbach, is in the movie," he laughed. "So for a movie that's about two dudes, it's got a really well-rounded cast."
Although some vocal fans and film purists have expressed their displeasure with the revisiting of, arguably, a classic, Smith insists that by moving Dante and Randal to the fast-food industry, he simultaneously moved his own game to the next level.
"It's my favorite of all the movies I've ever done," Smith said of the sequel. "It used to be that 'Chasing Amy' was my favorite, but this has supplanted 'Chasing Amy.' 'Clerks' was what it felt like to be in my twenties, but 'Clerks 2' is what it feels like to be in my thirties. A portrait of that. It's about how people have to struggle to grow out of a role that they've filled for the better part of their adult life. It's really poignant, but it's insanely funny."
As with previous flicks, such as "Clerks," "Dogma" and "Amy," the New Jersey auteur intends to balance the aforementioned seriousness with his bread-and-butter: "di-- and fart jokes."
"We're not even going to rate it — we're going to go out unrated," Smith declared defiantly. "If we put it in front of the ratings board they'd be like, 'You're insane. We have to create a new rating for that.' "
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"I've never been a nudity dude," Smith insisted. "We did nudity once, in 'Mallrats,' and it was just such an uncomfortable thing to shoot. Anybody can get somebody to take their clothes off. 'Clerks' was a movie that the MPAA gave an NC-17 for language and content alone. This movie ups the ante by a hundred-fold, and there's just no way it gets an R."
As for everybody's favorite drug-selling, adventure-seeking, bootchie-snoochin' duo, Smith says that they've grown up — so much so, in fact, that they've gone from grade-school humor to something closer to junior high.
"Jay and Silent Bob in 'Clerks 2' have about as much, if not less, screen time than they had in 'Clerks," Smith revealed, "but it's a different Jay and Silent Bob, a slightly more mature Jay and Silent Bob."
"Slightly," he laughed, after a moment. "Ever so slightly."
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