Monday, May 28, 2012
"Tough Sh*t: Life Advice from a Fat, Lazy Slob Who Did Good" by Kevin Smith
That Kevin Smith? The guy who did Clerks a million years ago? Didn't they bounce his fat ass off a plane once? What could you possibly learn from the director of Cop Out? How about this: He changed filmmaking forever when he was twenty-three, and since then he's done whatever the hell he wants. He makes movies, writes comics, owns a store, and now he's built a podcasting empire with his friends and family, including a wife who's way out of his league. So here's some tough shit: Kevin Smith has cracked the code. Or, he's just cracked.
Tough Shi*t is the dirty business that Kevin has been digesting for forty-one years, and now he's ready to put it in your hands. Smear this shit all over yourself because this is your blueprint (or brownprint) for success. Kev takes you through some big moments in his life to help you live your days in as Gretzky a fashion as you can - going where the puck is gonna be. Read all about how a zero like Smith managed to make ten movies with no discernible talent and how when he had everything he thought he'd ever want he decided to blow up his own career. Along the way, Kev shares stories about folks who inspired him (like George Carlin), folks who befuddled him (like Bruce Willis), and folks who let him jerk off onto their legs (like his beloved wife, Jen).
So make this your daily reader. Hell read it on the toilet if you want. Just make sure you grab the bowl and push, because you're about to take one Tough Sh*t.
You seem to either love or hate Kevin Smith. I have yet to find someone who is ambivalent about the director (unless they literally have no idea who he is). And that's OK; someone like Smith who turned filmmaking on its head with "Clerks" deserves to be revered or reviled.
This is an interesting, if expletive-filled, book. Yeah, there's a lot of swearing here, so if you've got delicate ears - or eyes, I guess - this may not be something you want to pick up. Smith writes exactly the way I imagine him talking, which is refreshing in a way. Some "biographies" have co-writers (either credited or not) who help the author polish the work so much that you wonder who really wrote the thing. No doubt about the author here - it's Smith all the way.
What comes out most in this book is the love Smith has for two things: his family and movies. Smith would be the total homebody dad and husband if it weren't for touring to support his films. And it's obvious how much he's been in love with movies since he and his dad used to hit the local theater weekly. Indeed, some of the most touching moments of the book are Smith talking about his dad. They didn't have a mushy father-son relationship - this was before all that touchy-feely sh*t was in vogue. Smith's dad was a man's man, a postal employee who loathed his job, a smoker, a grunter. In fact, it was his dad's feelings about his job that spurred Smith to find his own way; he watched his father trudge off to a job he hated each and every day, and Kevin vowed to not be that guy.
Which brings me to the most shocking part of the book, Smith's plans to get out of the film business. I was really surprised to read that he plans to make one last movie, and then that's it - curtain closed on his directorial career. I was all "WTF???" (my poor attempt to sound like a Smith character) But he makes his point eloquently: he's been in the movie biz for 20+ years now, both as the boy wonder and then as the senior director. He's been enamored of the Weinsteins and Miramax, and he's also thumbed his nose at them when they moved on to the next boy wonder (he also stole a lot of their promo tricks, which he worked to his advantage, and which really pissed off Harvey). But as Smith himself pointed out, it's no longer fun and wonderful for him to be the director. He's told the stories he's wanted to tell, and he's getting tired of the business. He's becoming his dad trudging off to work, and remember, he does not want to be "that guy". So he's taking his talents in another direction, the podcast, and live tours of him and his band of merry men talking on stage, which was always his favorite part of the movie promo stuff anyway.
It's a cool book, told by a cool guy, a self-professed schlub who made good. If nothing else, pick it up for the chapter about George Carlin, one of Smith's childhood heroes. I cried, and like Smith, I miss George. And much as it may pain me as a movie fan, I admire Kevin Smith for taking control of his life and doing what he wants to do. I wish him luck in his next career, and we'll always have The Quick Stop.