Kevin Smith can spin a tale for hours, and does. If you thought characters talked a lot in his movies – Clerks, Mallrats, Dogma – rest assured they are reticent by comparison.
He shows his talent again in Too Fat for Forty, a stand-up special that was filmed on his 40th birthday (Aug. 2, 2010) for broadcast on the website epixhd.com. The uncut feature on this week’s DVD lasts more than three hours, with another 50 minutes from the evening packed onto a second disc.
You’ll notice that Smith swears a lot. Every second sentence ends with the expression “and [expletive]like that,” although he occasionally says “and stuff like that.” He has no inner censor. He talks freely about bowel movements, and, with his mother in the audience, refers fondly but rudely to the details of his birth. This lack of self-restraint, he says, is what has robbed him of the commercial success enjoyed by Knocked Up director Judd Apatow.
In theory, this show in Smith’s home town of Red Bank, N.J., is a question-and-answer session. In practice, his answer to the first question lasts 169 minutes. He talks about trying to direct Bruce Willis in the film Cop Out, and aboutan epiphany he had while watching the CBC miniseries Hockey: A People’s History (he was stoned at the time), and about his run-in with Southwest Airlines in February, 2010.
That last incident explains the title. Smith was asked to get off a Southwest airplane because someone thought he was too fat to fit into a single seat. As he prepared to leave, he noticed an even fatter man sitting two rows back. He recalls that the man’s eyes locked with his in “abject terror,” as if Smith might point the man out to the flight attendant. (He didn’t.)
Two other Smith DVDs are out this week. One, SModimations: Season 1, is an animated version (by Canadian Steve Stark) of podcasts Smith made with friend Scott Mosier. The podcasts are hit and miss – more fun for the participants than for the listener – but Stark’s cartoons provide funny grace notes.
The other DVD is Red State (2011), a horror thriller that Smith wrote, edited and directed in a radical departure from his usual slacker talkfests. Michael Parks plays a religious cult leader and John Goodman plays a government official, in a violent commentary on religious fundamentalism and abuse of power. Smith took his independent film from city to city for a series of successful one-night showings, followed by a question-and-answer session. On the evidence of Too Fat for Forty, he may still be there talking.
ALSO RELEASED THIS WEEK
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971) The best part of this musical fantasy, out in a 40th-anniversary DVD-and-Blu-ray box with an anecdote-rich book by director Mel Stuart, is Gene Wilder as the smiling but sadistic chocolate maker who lets five children and their guardians tour his magical factory. Roald Dahl’s biographer says Dahl, who wrote the screenplay based on his book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, didn’t like Wilder (he wanted Peter Sellers or Spike Milligan), didn’t like the songs and didn’t like the changes made to his script. Picky, picky.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) Director Tim Burton takes a crack at Dahl’s book, and the results – on Blu-ray for the first time – are weirdly, happily Burtoneseque, even if a subplot about Wonka’s daddy issues is unfortunate. Johnny Depp channels actress Carol Channing as Wonka, and the Oompa-Loompas – the little people who run the factory – are played by one man (Deep Roy, replicated as needed) rather than by many as in the earlier film. The disc offers an isolated track of Danny Elfman’s spirited score. So does this week’s Blu-ray of Burton’s Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure.
V: The Complete Second Season (2011) The bonus features were shot before it was announced there would be no third season of this reboot of the 1980s series V, so the creators are still talking of future twists. The aliens – Vs, for Visitors – hover over Earth in 29 spaceships, while human resistance fighters are still bracing for the worst. The best way to derail the aliens’ plans is to cancel the series, apparently.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011) This is the one with the mermaids, the search for the Fountain of Youth, and Johnny Depp back for a fourth time as Captain Jack Sparrow. If director Rob Marshall’s live-action adventure should pall, the bonus features offer cute scenes from the movie performed by (and promoting) Lego versions of Sparrow and the gang.