KEVIN SMITH RETROSPECTIVE REVIEW: CLERKS – THE ANIMATED SERIES (2000)

Standard

Clerks: The Animated Series was released in 2000 as adult oriented comedies were part of the television mainstream. The idea made sense at the time and the film Clerks could easily translate into a television show. With Kevin Smith’s love of comic books the show could have been the perfect vehicle for him to explore that side of his writing as he was a cult director with a big fanbase. However the show didn’t live up to my expectations. I love animated comedies especially South Park, The Simpsons and Family Guy and it’s too bad Smith couldn’t capture that same oeuvre. I’m also a huge fan of Seinfeld (actually it’s my favourite show of all time) and this show was produced by David Mandel one of Seinfeld’s best writers. I’m not sure what went wrong because this show is only average at best. It has some great film references and great characters with Dante, Randal, Jay and Silent Bob. Perhaps it needed another season to find it’s groove much like the animated shows I mentioned earlier (the first seasons of The Simpsons, South Park and Family Guy are also pretty patchy). I enjoyed watching the show but overall I was disappointed that it could have been a lot better with the talent involved.

The series is a continuation of the 1994 independent classic Clerks, with Dante still working at the convenience store with Randal popping in from the video store next door to chat about their daily adventures. Jay and Silent Bob do their regular stoner shtick (however with a PG rating they can’t go as far as they do in the films which also hurts the show a lot too). Alec Baldwin plays the main antagonist Leonardo Leonardo who owns a corporate shopping center putting the convenience store out of business. Most of the episodes deal with Dante and Randal feuding against him while also dealing with their own dramas between each other or with Jay and Silent Bob. The animation style is similar to 90’s afternoon cartoon favourites like Daria and Beavis and Butthead. It deserved a bigger audience only to see if the show could have improved on its first and only season.

Episode Notes:

Episode 1: Leonardo Leonardo Returns and Dante Has an Important Decision to Make
Entertaining but very simple and generic plot involving a corporate takeover of small businesses. Great to catch up with Dante, Randal, Jay and Silent Bob. Reminds me of the Family Guy pilot pretty hit and miss and needs time to grow and develop these characters further. Interesting to see them in cartoon setting considering the original was filled with profanity and sexual jokes.
B

Episode 2: The Clipshow Wherein Dante and Randal are Locked in the Freezer and Remember Some of the Great Moments in Their Lives
The episode is a parody of flashback episodes instead it’s only the second episode. The joke gets pretty tired halfway through.
D+

Episode 3: Leonardo Is Caught in the Grip of an Outbreak of Randal’s Imagination and Patrick Swayze Either Does or Doesn’t Work in the New Pet Store
The store develops a virus from a bad burrito and Patrick Swayze works next door. Pretty weird episode with Leonardo from the first episode becoming the series antagonist. Funny introduction featuring a mail bag segment of audiences complaining about lack of female and black characters so they have a running gag of a black character called Lando (another Star Wars reference) passing through random scenes.
B-

Episode 4: A Dissertation on the American Justice System by People Who Have Never Been Inside a Courtroom, Let Alone Know Anything About the Law, but Have Seen Way Too Many Legal Thrillers
Jay sues the Quick Stop and Dante because Randall put too much bleach on the floor and caused him to slip over. The episode parodies legal thrillers and day time court dramas like Judge Judy. This episode is filled with film references including JFK, Beverly Hills Cop, Anime and Randall putting George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee and Woody Allen on trial. Highlight of the episode is Judge Reinhold as a literal Judge (Reinhold).
B+

Episode 5: Dante and Randal and Jay and Silent Bob and a Bunch of New Characters and Lando, Take Part in a Whole Bunch of Movie Parodies Including But Not Exclusive To, The Bad News Bears, The Last Starfighter, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Plus a High School Reunion
Dante and Randal attend their high school reunion where all of Randal’s ex-girlfriends reveal they’ve become gay and Dante isn’t recognised for his contribution to his old Baseball team. The rest of the episode involves Randal discovering his skill in an old video game with dire consequences and Dante has to coach a little league game. Pretty forgettable episode.
D

Episode 6: The Last Episode Ever
Begins with Dante and Randal getting feedback about how bad the show is and how it’s not like the film. The episode then revolves around various events in the day of the lives of Clerks. Filled with references to the Matrix. Overall an odd episode and unfortunate end to the show.
C

Summary:
The show had potential with our favourite characters from Clerks and could have grown in future seasons but overall the episodes never reached the highs of other animated sitcoms like The Simpsons or South Park.

C+

REVIEW: A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST (2014)

Standard

A_Million_Ways_to_Die_in_the_West_poster

“I can give her wrapped candies” – Foy

Plot Synopsis

Set in the 1880s a young Sheep herder falls for a mysterious young woman who is new to town, while dealing with the harsh life of the wild west.

Review:

Seth Macfarlane’s hilarious second feature film delivers everything you would expect from the man who created Family Guy and 2012’s Ted. More hard R-rated raunchiness and references that fly at you as fast as a quick drawing cowboy.

a_million_ways_to_die_in_the_west_1

The film much like Ted plays out like an extended skit (or cut away) from an episode of Family Guy, this time based in the old west. Lucky for Macfarlane he has plenty of material to mine from the popular westerns of yesteryear. The plot however differs from most westerns and centres on a cowardly Sheep herder, Albert (Seth Macfarlane), who has just been dumped by his girlfriend, Louise (Amanda Seyfried). To make matters worse she has moved on with a smug local business owner, Foy, cheekily played by Neil Patrick Harris. One night while drinking his miseries away with his friend Edward (Giovanni Ribisi), Albert meets Anna (Charlize Theron). Anna is keeping low in town while her husband, the evil cowboy Clinch (Liam Neeson) is away robbing other towns. Albert and Anna form a friendship over their mutual hatred of the wild west.

million-ways-to-die-in-the-west-seth-macfarlane-02-636-380

The wild west in this film is a dangerous place to live. People die while transporting ice, going to the fair, having a drink at the bar, or just being the mayor. Macfarlane uses the west to deliver high quantities of post-modern humour looking back at how absurd day to day life was for a commoner in the 1880s. Macfarlane succeeds for the most part, with a quick-witted screenplay mixed with great site gags. Macfarlane’s direction has improved since the quite bland looking Ted in 2012. The west looks beautiful and the director of photography shows a great love for the western genre. Macfarlane puts himself front and centre for this film, writer, director and actor. I believe this is Macfarlane’s big screen debut as he only provided the voice of the teddy bear in Ted. Unfortunately Macfarlane’s screen presence isn’t quite there yet and he struggles when next to acting heavy weights like Charlize Theron and Liam Neeson. Macfarlane has a sitcom appeal and perhaps isn’t quite ready for the big screen. Time will tell whether he succeeds in a big screen career, but with this and 2012’s Ted he is in the right direction.

million-ways-to-die-in-the-west-amanda-seyfried-neil-patrick-harris-636-380

Rating: 3.5 Stars