Kevin Smith steps up

When i saw that Red State was finally available for streaming, i knew i had to check it out. I figure most people know about this one, but for those who don’t here is the basic plot synopsis. There is a small spoiler present in my review, but its nothing that couldn’t be guessed from the trailer.

Set in Middle America, a group of teens receive an online invitation for sex, though they soon encounter fundamentalists with a much more sinister agenda.

I will admit i came into this with the expectation the fundamentalists would be the obvious bad guys while everybody else would look like a saint in comparison. And in the beginning it does seem to be heading that way, with a scene that is a obvious reference to the infamous Westboro Baptist Church led by Fred Phelps. But as it goes on it becomes less of a indictment of religion and more a indictment of fanaticism, and the tragic consequences that can come out of that.

Yes, the fundamentalists in the movie are definitely not good guys, but the way authorities handles the crisis when it gets involved isn’t all that great either. IMO neither side ends up looking like the good guy here. Both take rather extreme measures, which doesn’t end well for everybody. Also, both sides have at least one character who tries to take a reasonable route to keep the situation under control when outside forces around them seems to want to escalate the situation far beyond what it needs to be.

Overall, this is a surprising intelligent movie that shows how situations can escalate quickly when cooler heads are unable to prevail. He shows how both sides suffer when those at the top decide to act based on feeling and prejudice instead of for the common good, and the devastation extreme decisions can cause. Smith also doesn’t shy away from showing the brutal consequences said decisions have. Kevin Smith uses a gritty, unstylized look, making this seem like something that could happen today.

The acting in this movie is top notch, but Michael Parks in particular gives a amazing performance as the fanatical preacher.He seems like someone who could easily convince people to follow his more extreme agenda,practically stealing every scene he is in.

There is some foul language in the movie, mainly from the 3 teen characters but for me it fit the story. I definitely recommend this one. It is definitely much more than it seems at first, and while Smith may have started it in reaction to people like Fred Phelps i don’t belie the movie to be anti-religous. I think Smith showed a surprising maturity with this movie, and i hope he continues it.

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29 Responses to Kevin Smith steps up

  1. Sir Phobos says:

    Alright, this one shall be watched very soon. I was wondering how Smith would handle something so different from his usual stuff. I’m really, really glad it’s good.

  2. DEZMOND says:

    Dirty, I’ve noticed you use DWC as the short form of your blog title, but did you know that here in Europe WC stands for public toilet? 🙂

    • rtm says:

      Ha..ha.. Dezzy, you are too funny!! So that means DWC stands for dirty toilet? 😀
      Sorry I don’t have anything to add to this discussion, not really my cup of tea at all Julian.

    • No i didn’t know that Dezz…i am hoping you don’t consider this bog like a public toilet 😛

      Edit-And rtm i didn’t think this would be to your tastes, although if it changes anything i truly believe the movie is not anti-religious like it may seem.

  3. MarkusWelby1 says:

    I was surprised that I enjoyed this as much as I did after seeing basically mixed reviews. I immediately thought of Phelps and Westboro, but also about the debacle in Waco Texas in the early 90’s when the ATF botched the compound raid of the Branch Davidians. I had given up on Smith, but now I hope to see more stuff like this from the guy.

  4. Ronan says:

    This sounds interesting, a welcome deaparture form the kind of thing Smith is known for. It’s the Kevin Smith I’m thinking of right? Silent Bob? Nice review. Is this on general release?

    • Yes it is that one. Although i will say i didn’t mind Kevins usual stuff. Still, it was nice to see Kevin attempt something new and more importantly actually succeed with it. And its available for dvd.

      • Ronan says:

        Cheers fot that Juian. I generally don’t rent DVDs so I can’t say I’m likely to get it but it does sound intriguing and I do like a director who’s not afraid to depart from what he’s used to. Takes guts to do that.

        • Indeed, although i think after Cop Out Kevin kind of had to change it up for the sake of his career. I do hope this marks a new trend for Smith, but i will always appreciate his older stuff like his Jay & Silent Bob movies.

          And i generally stream movies through netflix now

  5. Tyler says:

    Still not sure about this one. I’ve read some good reviews, but quite a few critics have hated it, so I’m not sure what to think. Think I’ll wait for the DVD.

  6. Castor says:

    I’m not the biggest fan of Kevin Smith but this sounds like a potentially intriguing flick. I might check it out on Netflix one of those days 🙂

  7. 3guys1movie says:

    hmmmm that sounds like it will be worth a look see. Will be adding this to my instant queue.

  8. I thought I had left a comment on this one. but I am mistaken.
    sorry mate. Ok, here goes.

    Your last sentence surprised me: “I think Smith showed a surprising maturity with this movie, and i hope he continues it.” Smith is liked by a lot of fans, but I don’t necessarily care for his work. One thing I never affiliated him with was “maturity.” He visited my city and I attended a live recording of his podcast and laughed a few times, but mainly sat uninterested. This film concerned me in that I feared it would portray all believers as complete fanatical extremists. I am glad to hear it indicts the people more so than the religion.

    I may avoid this film still. But I am glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for the inclusive write up.

  9. Sir Phobos says:

    Towards the end, John Goodman says, “People just do the strangest things when they believe they’re entitled. But they do even stranger things when they just plain believe.”

    I’d say that’s an indictment of religion. There’s also the bit between Goodman and Kevin Pollak, where he asks, “How much do you think a cross like that costs?” To which Goodman replies, “Do you mean in dollars or common sense?”

    • I think what Goodman said at the end was meant as a indictment of both sides. Both believed what they were doing to be right.

      And while there are bits in the movie like the one you cited between Pollack and Goodman, i believe the governments actions during the movie combined with what we learn at the end doesn’t make them look any better

      • Sir Phobos says:

        Oh, I totally agree about the government. Goodman hated all the shit he was doing, too. So I wouldn’t say what Goodman said at the end vilifies both sides. The government didn’t really “believe” what it was doing was right. Goodman knew they only do things in their best interest, no matter the cost to others. Belief doesn’t really come into it. For instance, when Goodman is on the phone with his superior during the firefight, the first thing out of his superior’s mouth was something about a media circus. It didn’t matter if they were doing the right thing. The agent in the end, saying, “Patriot Act, bitch,” tells me that they like power, whether it’s used for good or not.

        The extremists, on the other hand, believed with every fiber in their being that they were on God’s side and doing what was morally right. Fear also played a part, as the preacher said, but that’s a separate issue.

        You’re correct, though. No one came out looking good when everything was said and done. The whole thing was a huge mess. Maybe we have two separate messages going on? One for the government and one for the believers?

        • Perhaps so. I feel like the whole scene at the end with Goodman was supposed to imply blame on both sides. I think overall the movie was trying to reference how extreme the political discourse has gotten in America, and the consequences that extremism will have. I think the movie started out in Smith’s head as a purely anti-religous one, but i think it ended up being about something larger than that in the end

          And I do think the one example of the religious lady who was looking out for the children does help it feel less anti-religous(I am going to avoid talking about her fate to not spoil readers),

          • Sir Phobos says:

            Although, in her case, she obviously wasn’t indoctrinated like everyone else. You could say she had a conscience of her own, so that could be anti-religious OR anti-extremism.

            I can see the argument for extremism on both sides, so that’s another angle to look at it.

            You know what? Damn, this movie is awesome. I don’t think it’s quite as definitive as it seems.

  10. Dan says:

    I have been disappointed by Smith’s recent films but I am looking forward to seeing this. Clerks, Mallrats and Chasing Amy are all great – I wish he would return to form (or perhaps View Askew!).

  11. Novroz says:

    I finally have time to read this. I am not sure I am going to like this Julian. i am looking for a ghost horror

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