I “discovered” Kevin Smith’s Clerks years ago on my college’s cable system and immediately loved it. I’ve been a fan of Smith’s voice ever since that time, enjoying his films and then subscribing to many of the podcasts Smith produces as part of his Smodcast network.
If you’ve listened to a lot of Smith’s commentaries, podcasts and various question and answer DVD releases, you’ve probably heard different variations of the some of the stories and incidents Smith relates here in Tough Shit: Life Advice from a Fat, Lazy Slob Who Did Good. But that familiarity won’t necessarily ruin the enjoyment of this book, nor the “life advice” Smith is trying to share with his readers (or in my case, listeners since I consumed this as an audio book).
Told in typical Smith fashion (meaning lots of use of the f-word and body function humor. If that’s not your cup of tea, you probably won’t enjoy this book in the least. But then again, you shouldn’t be surprised because this is, after all, Kevin Smith), the stories detail Smith’s influences, his career and his life. In between learning about how Smith decided that he didn’t want to just dream a filmmaker but actually decided he was a filmmaker to his courtship and marriage to his wife Jen, the book finds Smith as his self-critical best. Yes, a lot of time is spent praising his latest release Red State and the way in which Smith “bucked” the independent movie system that helped launch his career, but in between those chapters is some fascinating commentary from inside the indie system during its rise in the mid to late 90’s.
Smith doesn’t pull any punches either (again, not a shock if you’ve listened to his Dogma commentary). One chapter relates Smith’s disappointment at getting to direct one of his childhood heroes in Bruce Willis and how Smith went from a fellow actor in one movie to an adversary and director in Cop Out. It doesn’t necessarily make the movie any better as a finished product, but you may have a bit more respect for Smith in getting the film completed and it’s a necessary piece to understand why Smith has decided to pursue other passions besides filmmaking.
If you like Kevin Smith, this book is a must read, even if you’ve probably heard some of these stories before. If you don’t know who Smith is, go and find his movies on DVD or Blu-Ray immediately and start watching them.
And while Smith does use a lot of f-bombs and adult content to relate his story, like his influence of George Carlin, Smith never lets his crude language overshadow the true heart of the book and the stories he’s relating. As you read (or in this case listen), you can hear the passion in Smith’s voice as he tells the story of his own life in his own words.