On his instagram account yesterday, Kevin Smith posted a screenshot of the complete first draft of the newest entry into his View Askewniverse: a sequel to 1995’s Mallrats with the current title of MallBrats. Since struggling with directing Cop Out, the only time Smith has helmed a movie he did not write, Smith has gone in a strange direction. Red State is a fascinating departure from what he usually does, and you would be forgiven for not even noticing that it is a Kevin Smith film. Most recently, he directed the first entry in his Great White North horror trilogy: Tusk, about a killer walrus (Yoga Hosers is in post-production and Moose Jaws will round out the series in 2016). Suffice to say, Kevin Smith is up to a great deal lately, but this will be his first return to the comfort of his old world.
While much of Smith’s early work fits all into the same world, only Clerks II can truly be considered a direct sequel, and it was a respectable continuation of that story. Back in 1995, Mallrats was supposed to be a springboard for Smith to build upon the indie success of Clerks, but despite its emergence as a minor cult classic, it was very poorly received upon release. The characters in Mallrats are well-liked by fans of Smith, but I worry that there isn’t much appeal for the filthy casuals in a sequel like this. In addition, as Smith re-treads over more and more of his earlier works (Clerks III is in a state of pre-production similar to MallBrats), fans and detractors alike may begin to feel that Smith is running low on ideas – if they don’t think that already. In my opinion, Clerks III is more egregious in this sense, as it really felt like Smith finished the Clerks story beautifully, regardless of what you feel about the entirety of that movie.
I very much enjoy Smith’s stylized, Tarantino-lite dialogue and pop culture references, and at his best he can actually be quite poignant and interesting. But, when it feels like he is re-treading his old world for safety’s sake, it is easy to lose faith in him. The fact that two direct sequels to his films are slated for release in the same year would definitely support this fear, and I would not hold it against his detractors for claiming that these movies will be cash-grab failures. But, I think the fact that he has multiple projects in the works (not just sequels) speaks to the fact that he is not bereft of creativity right now. This suggests that he is returning to these stories because he is excited about the updated story that he has to tell in this world, and that has me tentatively anticipating learning more about both sequels.
Photo courtesy of AFI FEST 2007 Presented By Audi: Portrait Sessions – Day 2