Gimme an Oscar, dammit!
Friday 26 January 2007 @ 3:11 pm

“Catch & Release”, the film I acted in (but didn’t write or direct) is in theaters today. Despite earning Two Thumbs Up on “Ebert & Roeper”, the press at large isn’t warming to the flick. Contrary to what a majority of critics are saying about it, however, I enjoyed the flick immensely – particularly the “acting” work of the fat guy in the flick.

Let’s get this out of the way early: I am not an actor. An actor can take words written on a page, deliver them, and make them sound as if said actor is coming up with those thoughts off the top of their head. I couldn’t (and can’t) do that. Mercifully, the director – Susannah Grant – let me colloquialize what was on the page and put it in my own patois. So the character I play, Sam, sounds an awful lot like… well, me.

Still, that performance crutch seems to have gone down well with a majority of the critics. Below, find a bunch of sweet notices about yours truly in the film that put a big spring in my step this morning…

“Kevin Smith has a commanding, affable presence that hints his acting career may surpass his considerable directorial successes. It’s a performance that would land an Oscar nomination, if only the film it came from weren’t so weak.” Phil Villarreal, Arizona Star

“Kevin Smith nearly walks off with the movie as Sam, displaying a surprising range and earning most of the movie’s biggest laughs.” Kevin Crust, L.A. Times

“Smith’s presence in this film that boosts the rating from two and a half to three stars. The director of such indie classics as “Chasing Amy,” “Clerks” and “Mallrats” delivers a spot-on performance that in itself is reason enough to see “Catch and Release.” Smith is hilarious playing the “fat guy” buddy — a role that so easily could have slipped into repetitive mediocrity in the hands of a lesser talent.” Bill Zwecker, Chicago Sun Times

“The best thing about “Catch and Release” is director Kevin Smith in a supporting actor role, which Grant seems to have realized and responded to by giving him an inordinate amount of screen time. He’s not only funny but also convincing enough to give the film emotional resonance it otherwise lacks. Smith has pointedly avoided taking what he has called the “Jack Black funny fat guy supporting roles” in films he does not make, but if he can be as affecting and effective as he is here, he may want to reconsider.” Terry Lawson, Detroit Free Press

“As Sam, Smith is a particular revelation. It’s the writer-director’s first major performance outside his own oeuvre of mostly Silent Bob roles in his Clerks movies. He’s a delightful actor of good humor and touching depth.” Jack Garner, Gannett News Service

“Kevin Smith functions as the laugh track. He plays Sam, the guy who puts pithy quotes on Celestial Seasonings tea flaps. He’s very appealing. Needy yet zonked, he’s a motormouth on cruise control. (He should be writing ad copy for Constant Comment.) His one sudden episode of despair jolts you out of the movie. Otherwise, with the jolly expansiveness of an unabashed endomorph, he’s the Spirit of Slackers Present. Michael Sragow, Baltimore Sun

“The real highlight of the film were the scenes with Kevin Smith who plays Sam, one of Gray’s dead fiancé’s friends. For the record, I am a big fan of Mr. Smith, but even if I wasn’t, anyone could appreciate his much needed comedy relief in this film. As much as I love his movies, maybe he should take a little break and play in some more films because he really has something. His timing and delivery were dead-on! I was laughing at all of his scenes and so was the rest of the audience. His scenes with Juliette Lewis were especially funny. Loved the massage sequence! You’re a funny man, Mr. Smith and it’s time you showed that to the rest of the world! Had Smith not been in this film, it would have sucked a thousand times more.” Tim Goernert,

“Playing basically a PG-13-rated version of himself, Smith gets most of the laughs with his relaxed, slouchy charisma” Scott Tobias, Onion AV Club

“But the real scene stealer is Kevin Smith. Forced to play a fat guy who can’t seem to stop eating for even a single frame (they make him eat until it’s almost offensive), he takes his role as the funny bag of blubber and proceeds to steal the entire movie. Whenever the main characters are off doing something terribly angsty or important, you won’t find yourself wondering how they’re feeling but rather “hey I wonder what Kevin Smith’s character thinks of this.” The beauty of it is that eventually he’ll tell you, and when he does you won’t be disappointed. He’s funny, he’s sweet, he’s sincere; he’s everything that the rest of the Catch and Release is not even though the film seems to be desperately trying to define him solely by his greatly exaggerated weight.” Josh Tyler, Cinema Blend

“Jennifer Garner may possess the hardest working eyebrows in show business, but Kevin Smith gets the acting kudos in this bittersweet romance about a woman whose life crumbles when her fiance dies just before their wedding.” Andrea Gronvall, Chicago Reader

“Show up for Kevin Smith as Sam, proving Silent Bob is actually more interesting when he speaks.” Cole Haddon, Orlando Weekly

“It’s a nice touch adding Kevin Smith, who’s scruffy fun as one of the dead fiance’s housemates in Boulder, Colorado.” Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

“Kevin Smith, as Grady’s housemate Sam, proves he’s no one-note Silent Bob. Although wearing a tie-dyed shirt may be the biggest challenge he faces here, he fills his comic-relief duties easily and has time left over to show a little tenderness.” John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter

“Gray is consoled by her fiancé’s friends, including depressive buffoon Sam (Kevin Smith, in a relaxed, appealing performance)…” Stephanie Zachareck,

“Yet Smith, despite the fact writer/director Grant keeps shoving things in his character’s mouth, manages to steal the entire movie. Sam’s the one character who actually seems like someone you’d run into the real world and Smith’s charismatic performance is the one piece that holds the film together. If there’s a reason to buy a ticket it’s not for Jennifer Garner’s performance or for the plot, it’s to check out what Smith manages to do with his supporting role.” Rebecca Murray,

“Kevin Smith, playing, I think, Kevin Smith (not a bad thing), gets most of the big yuks, and there are more than you’d expect.” Marc Savlov, Austin Chronicle

“But Garner and Smith, bless their charm and charisma, find and exploit the truthful moments, and keep us from emotionally evacuating. Actually, they entice us to care, which is no small feat.” John Serba, Grand Rapids Press

“Smith steals multiple scenes as chatty comic relief and faux philosophy gleaned not from books but from herbal tea boxes.” Ed Bradley, Flint Journal

“The only one injecting anything close to life into this clunker is Kevin Smith, doing his first big turn as an actor away from his own projects. While the script gives his character some ridiculous moments, he weathers them nicely and scores some laughs.” Bob Grimm, Tuscon Weekly

“Kevin Smith is particularly pleasant as one of Grady’s friends caring for Gray, upping the film’s appeal to the male demographic while also delivering much of the film’s humor.” Matty Smith, The Stanford Daily

“Many fans of his Silent Bob character are going to be appalled by Kevin Smith’s likeable Sam in Catch & Release, but no matter: You release one set of fans, you catch a whole other set. Smith is a delight in Catch & Release, a smart, funny slob with a bit of that Vince Vaughn fast-talking wit, but with far more of a nice-guy core than any Vaughn character will ever have. It’s that nice-guy normalcy that will make Silent Bob fans want to reach for the barf bag but will charm the many women who de-stress with Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts movies. Smith, silver-tongued and spouting wisdom from the back of Celestial Seasonings tea boxes, is the principal source of laughs in Catch & Release, a romantic comedy that takes itself seriously.” Cathy Frisinger, Fort Worth Star Telegram

“…is worth seeing if only for the stellar performances by Juliette Lewis and Kevin Smith. Lewis shines as the ditzy, zen mother of Grant’s son and Smith is hilarious as the ever-eating, Red Zinger tea box-quoting comic relief in an otherwise unnecessarily deep show.” Maggie Cheu, The Daily Texan

“Lewis is particularly amusing in a smaller role, and Smith stands out as a cross between a “Little House on the Prairie”-era Victor French and Chewbacca — the best chemistry in the movie is between Smith and a 4-year-old boy.” Peter Hartlaub, San Franciso Chronicle

“Kevin Smith seems all too aware that, as the comic-relief character, he can just have fun, say “dude” and “totally” a lot and walk away with the movie, which is basically what happens.” Curt Holman, Creative Loafing

“The best performance is by fellow director Smith (Clerks), who provides much-appreciated off-kilter energy, ad-libbing lines from Star Wars and cracking wise about “rockin’ the Playstation.”" Mark Keizer, Box Office Magazine

“Smith basically plays himself, but that’s a good thing in his case, and Jaeger makes a charming, low-key straight man for Smith’s antics.” Loey Lockerby, Kansas City Star

“Smith tries to carve out a new niche for himself as a wacky best friend and comes fairly close. Smith’s character, Sam, works for Celestial Seasonings, where he comes up with literary quotes for boxes of tea. Even his suicide attempts are cute.” Ty Burr, Boston Globe

“Smith is essentially playing his public persona, right down to the quirks of speech (which are slightly cleaned up), but fortunately that portrayal works well for the character. Unsurprisingly, he gets all the best lines. However, the scene in which (Juliette Lewis) gives Kevin Smith a massage is unforgettable — the high point of the film.” Jette Kernion, Cinematical

“Smith is best known as the director of the “Clerks” films, and he’s pretty much hilariously playing himself, wearing his own wardrobe and looking as comfortable as if he were bantering on the couch next to Jay Leno. One thing’s for sure, if Smith doesn’t get more acting work out of his role, he needs a new agent.” Ted Fry, Seattle Times

“Filmmaker-turned-actor Smith, however, turns out to be a pleasant surprise; his natural goofiness helps offset some of his performance deficiencies.” Jeff Vice, Deseret Morning News

“But it is Smith who steals the picture whenever he is on screen. This is the first major “acting” role he has had outside one of his own pictures. Smith claims he is not really an actor and doesn’t know what he is doing. But he is no fraud, not with these chops, this gumption, this sense of timing. This is not Silent Bob Redux. While he reportedly drove Grant bonkers because he could or would not follow her script, Smith brings huggie-bear appeal to his role as one of the inner circle who rallies around Garner. Yet he has his own deep-rooted issues, his own bitterness over the loss of his friend. He expresses it in sarcasm and in his eating disorders (and Smith is ballooning up huge in real life, so he did not need body padding to play the fat-guy role). There is pathos here.” Bruce Kirkland, Toronto Sun

“You might not expect filmmaker Kevin Smith, who can’t even act well in his own movies, to provide welcome comic relief as one of Grady’s former roommates, yet here he turns in a fine performance.” Phoebe Flowers, South Florida Sun Sentinel

“…Juliette Lewis, who along with Smith provides welcome comic relief. Lewis shares a special comic rapport with Smith. A committed slacker but loyal friend, Sam is kind not only to Gray but to newcomer Maureen. Smith draws laughs and enhances the sense of warmth suffusing much of “Catch and Release.”" Carla Meyer, Sacramento Bee

“The biggest laughs, not surprisingly, come from Smith, who makes a rare acting appearance that doesn’t put him in the role of Silent Bob. Smith being friends with Garner’s husband (some guy named Ben Affleck), it’s possible favoritism played into his getting the part. But he’s so lovable and genuine that it doesn’t matter how he got the role; he owns it.” Betsy Pickle, Knoxville News Sentinel

“He can act. And he’s charming as somebody besides Silent Bob. Kevin Smith puts the wondering to rest — can he deliver outside his own film creations? — by portraying a featured player in Susannah Grant’s sobby romantic comedy, “Catch and Release.” Simply put, as a fellow reviewer said on the way out of a screening earlier this week: “Thank heaven’s for Kevin Smith; he’s the best thing about it!”" Eleanor O’Sullivan, Asbury Park Press (hometown paper)

“Sam, the big chunk with Jack Black zingers and quality quotes is acted amiably by Kevin Smith.” David Elliot, San Diego Union Tribune

“Filmmaker Kevin Smith, known for the Silent Bob character he plays in most of his movies surprises with an engaging performance as the bumbling Sam, who quotes tea boxes, indulges in food and minor substance abuse to assuage his grief and forms a real attachment with Maureen and her child. Despite their hackneyed characters, Smith and Lewis create a tiny spark and add a little humour. Without them, Catch and Release would be totally dead in the water.” Jennie Punter, Toronto Globe and Mail

“Forget the Oscars, the Tonys, the Emmys. I want to start awarding the Eves. The honor would be named not for the clever little schemer slipping a stiletto into Margo Channing but after Eve Arden, who for nearly 60 years showed up in one movie and sitcom after another, rarely playing the leading role, never doing anything but making everyone else look better. And this month’s Eve would probably have to go to Kevin Smith for Catch and Release. Smith gets it here, for helping to jazz up a fairly formulaic romantic comedy-drama. Smith ambles on, dressed in baggy shorts and bathrobe, making himself a sandwich, firing up the blender for another round of White Russians or imparting some deep philosophical wisdom. (He’s not well-read; he’s just the guy in charge of picking quotes for the Celestial Seasonings boxes.) It’s not an important character, but it’s fun, and a dozen little touches — the mock-solemn “Sir,” the Star Wars references, the self-deprecating gags, the deadpan delivery — are completely his. Smith, who usually sticks to directing, may have done the part as a favor (he’s a best friend of Garner’s husband, Ben Affleck), and he has some help in the comic-relief department from Juliette Lewis, of all people, who shows up as a ditsy massage therapist. But every time he comes on-screen, he perks things up. He makes the time pass faster and the flaws recede. He turns what might have been a forgettable movie into a halfway decent one. And that’s the definition of an Eve Award winner right there.” Stephen Witty, Newhouse News Service

To be fair, it wasn’t all “I’d like to thank the Academy” type moments for our hero. A handful of naysayers dismissed my performance as “Jack Black wannabe” (which I really can’t see beyond Jack Black played the funny, fat friend in “High Fidelity”, and I’m playing the funny, fat friend here; but, whatever). I got no beef with that; if you’re gonna compare my perf to someone else’s, there are worse guys to be mentioned in the same breath with than the mighty JB.

But then there were those who opted not to review the performance, but instead, reviewed by weight and appearance in the film.

Jack Mathews in the NY Daily News (not exactly Mr. Svelte himself) wrote “Smith, who makes movies (“Clerks”) that he occasionally appears in, plays the vulgar, kindhearted Sam as if he were emulating John Belushi’s Bluto in “Animal House.” The guy is either stuffing his face, slugging back beers or preparing to do one or other in almost every scene. At least Smith gives the film a few moments of authenticity. His girth certainly matches his character’s appetite.”

At least Jack was subtle about the dig. Check out the bile Kyle Smith was belching in the NY Post…

“One of Gray’s friends is played by Kevin Smith – the “Clerks” director and Silent Bob creator who this time speaks. What he ought to say is “Get Jenny Craig on the phone.” If this movie weren’t being shown in widescreen, you couldn’t even see all of him as he thunders through the house in a striped bathrobe the size of a parachute.”

I mean, how is that relevant? And I’m not even personally offended here: I’ve been the recipient of much more creative weight barbs by far more imaginative slingers (this is, after all, Kyle Smith – the second stringer who only gets to review the flicks Lou Lumenick doesn’t want to). But if you’re a film critic, aren’t you supposed to review the performances in the film – not just the appearance of the performer? How is the size of my bathrobe even germane to the discussion?

But what else would one expect from a failed screenwriter, I guess. In a world where we’re throwing around bad reviews, however, Kyle’s gotten his share for his first book, “Love Monkey”…

“(Kyle) Smith has clearly taken lessons from a few successful writers of chick lit, but his boy version of Bridget Jones lacks the key ingredient: a sympathetic protagonist.” – Publisher’s Weekly

“In his first novel, Smith, the book and music review editor of People magazine, tries too hard to be clever (like Tom himself), piling witticism upon witticism and referencing numerous “in” people, places, and events. Consequently, the book seems facile rather than meaningful, at least to this reviewer, who is neither male nor thirtysomething nor a New Yorker. Libraries looking for lad lit to satisfy this demographic should purchase. Others can safely pass.” – Library Journal

“The monologues are nothing a smarter-than-average Maxim reader wouldn’t come up with” Kirkus Reviews

A CBS sitcom was spun off of the book. The show was cancelled after three airings (one more than our unceremoniously dumped “Clerks” cartoon, back in 2000), with VH1 airing the remaining five. But sure, Kyle – keep cracking wise about what you perceive as the shortcomings (or lard-comings) of others. You’re such a winner. I’ll lose weight and you’ll still be stewing in self-loathing because nobody sees you as the Nick Hornby you fancy yourself.

That non-starter aside, check out “Catch” this weekend, if you’re so inclined. If you’re reading this blog, I can almost guarantee there’s at least one thing you’ll like about the flick.


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