On the other hand, Smith is really, really good at monologues. Not (and this is an important distinction) dialogue; if you get two people talking in a Kevin Smith movie, it sounds like they’re reading off the back of cereal boxes until the next dick joke comes around. But he really has a talent for pausing a movie and letting a character sink into a long, uninterrupted story, like Tracy Morgan’s elaborate hypotheticals in Cop Out or a gripping emotional moment from Genesis Rodriguez in the absolutely execrable Tusk, a movie inspired by a dumb joke he made on a podcast. And of course, the speech he delivers as Silent Bob in Chasing Amy (an admittedly decent movie).
In Mallrats, the unexpected airplane story seems like it’s building to something remarkable. It feels like it should be the climax of the movie, but it’s not; it’s not even the climax of that scene. It’s just a long speech about a dude jerking it on a plane. And yet it’s riveting, not just to the audience in the film, but to us, the watchers of the watchers themselves.
Smith, for all of his faults, has a genuine and deep talent for writing speeches that pull you out of the movie and into another emotional place entirely. Like somehow, it just has the weird, wondrous Kevin Smith power to suck you in that his actual narratives and command of the screen utterly do not. It actually makes a lot of sense that Kevin Smith has pivoted into a second career lately as a podcast host and all-around pop culture raconteur; he’s just not as good as making films as he is at speeches.
Besides the fashion, the slang, and the presence of Jeremy “I’m Totally Not Brendan Fraser” London, the most ‘90s thing in Kevin Smith’s Mallrats was the running gag about Willam. You know, the guy who keeps staring at a Magic Eye picture all day and still can’t see the hidden sailboat.
Well, it turns out there’s a very good reason for this. The picture doesn’t contain a sailboat. And how do we know this? The magic of Photoshop and tireless determination. One fan was able to reverse-engineer the original image (which was screencapped from the movie) by copying and superimposing it over its duplicate, simulating the movement your eyes are supposed to make when you “relax” them. This way, he was able to discover what was really inside.
It was some random shapes! So, wait, does this mean that every single character in this movie, from some little kid to Stan Lee, got together to fuck with Willam? That seems like a feasible explanation, except that Willam himself eventually sees the sailboat, too. We have no choice but to conclude that the characters in this Kevin Smith movie might have been stoned.