Kevin Smith returns for his fourth live Q&A release, celebrating his 40th birthday in front of a hometown crowd. Running at more than three hours, it’s a treat for any fan of Smith and his work; if you’re not a fan, you’ll probably not appreciate any of this review or the DVD. If you’re new to Smith’s work, you’re better off picking up the films, then download his SMODcasts or Jay & Silent Bob Get Old, and start buying his books – preferably starting with Silent Bob Speaks. Then work your way through the live DVDs that he’s released so far.
For the rest of you, here goes…
Too Fat For Forty takes its name from the infamous incident in which Smith was declared too fat to fly aboard an American airline. This humiliating tale forms one of a number of lengthy stories that Smith recounts. These include stories about his recent films, Zack & Miri (and how it appears to have led to his increased use of marijuana) and Cop Out (and the various problems with realising that screen dream), the art of directing Bruce Willis, hockey legend Wayne Gretzky and his sportsmanship, travelling in a variety of buses, the influence of George Carlin, the dangers of going to the toilet, inadvertently finding himself in a hostage situation, and being subject to the Geneva Convention as he crosses the border into Canada.
The stories are filled with brutal honesty, humour and vulgarity. There seems to be no subject that is taboo, no matter how embarrassing the story. Smith’s stories are told from the heart and don’t appear to have been included to simply shock the audience into a response. His stories are a journey, as we navigate the seemingly random, but also entertaining, roads that Smith has travelled, in a literal and figurative sense.
Many of the stories, as has been true of his past live Q&As, have been heard before on his SMODcasts or Jay & Silent Bob Grow Old. This isn’t a bad thing, as Smith is a wonderfully engaging presence on stage, especially considering the length of the show. With Smith, the recounting of such stories is part of his often lengthy narrative, weaving funny, emotional and occasionally stomach turning tales of his life. He often links stories together and, sometimes, you have to work to keep up with his references.
With it’s three-hour plus running time, it’s a huge sell if you’re not a fan of Kevin Smith, but it’s definitely worth having if you appreciate his work.
Presented in stereo sound, the video won’t win any awards for its technical presentation, accomplished as this may be. Whilst it’s great to see the look on Smith’s face as he tells his stories (it’s akin to watching an excited, somewhat naughty schoolboy who has learned his first rude joke – and it’s a joy to watch), it’s not really essential and would work equally well as an audio-only work.
Assuming more than three hours of Kevin Smith isn’t enough to sell this DVD to you, there’s also a second disc included in the package.
Full Encore Q&A is a 50-minute extension to the main feature, with audience members asking the questions. The topics are quite bizarre – Toxic Avenger vs. Jay & Silent Bob, Wall-E, Rev Kev and a rather touching segment on Crohn’s disease. It’s not so much an extra as the ‘rest of the main feature.’ The audience members range from the incredibly nervous to the resoundingly confident, though the starstruck are often brought crashing back down to Earth by Smith’s honesty.
The Secret Behind The Stash is a short (under ten minute) making-of feature showing the technical side of filming a live Q&A. For such a short run time, it does a really efficient job of showing what went into the multi-camera set up and the venue itself.
It would have been quite a task to fit all this on one DVD, so spreading it over two seems the natural solution. That said, there was still room for more; maybe a live Jay & Silent Bob Get Old filming could appear on a future Q&A DVD, after all, Smith clearly has more stories to tell.
You can rent or buy Too Fat For Forty at Blockbuster.co.uk.