I have a simple recipe which will allow you to form a mental picture of this film. Start with Kevin Smith's Clerks.
Update it to the present time, colorize it, and shoot it in digital video.
Relocate it from a video store to a billiard supply store.
That's about it. This film is an unabashed homage to Kevin Smith. Here are a few
subtle hints of that:
- There is a character who does not talk. Her name is Silent Bobette.
She wears a backwards baseball cap and a long overcoat, even though the
other characters are dressed for summer.
- There is a discussion of Rufus, the 13th apostle, a character played
by Chris Rock in Kevin Smith's Dogma.
- The designated horny guy looks and talks very much like Ben Affleck,
so much so that it seems to be an impersonation
- There is a fast food place named Mooby's.
If that isn't enough to convince you, you might notice the quote from Kevin on
the DVD box.
There's no inherent problem with all of that. Sometimes homages work out,
sometimes not, and even some famous directors have made homages to other
directors. The pairs that come immediately to my mind are Woody Allen / Ingmar
Bergman and Gus Van Sant / Alfred Hitchcock. But the problem with copying Kevin
Smith's movies is that the success of the originals is based on the crazed
charisma of Jason Mewes and Kevin's own unique talent for interesting, witty
reflections on life and pop culture. If you remove those elements, Clerks
consists of bad actors talking way too much in front of static camera set-ups.
To a certain extent, that describes Kisses and Caroms. The characters do
prattle on as they do in Kevin's films, and they even read their lines like the
actors in Smith's films, but the film misses Smith's wit and Mewes's hilarious
rants. And artificial dialogue without the spin of Kevin's wit is just stiff
dialogue. On the positive side of the ledger, the film does capture a certain
kind of brutal Smithian honesty and deals with the kind of gritty subject matter
that will remind you of Clerks. The characters seem to express the concerns of
20-somethings about their relationships and their place in society, and they do so in direct, uncensored
ways. Some authenticity must derive from the fact that writer
Michael Hutchinson's IMDB bio
sounds very much like the back story of the character named David, a guy who got
his college degree then bummed around for years in a string of summer jobs.
There are a few variations on the basic Kevin Smith themes:
Unlike the early Smith films, there is no discussion of films or superheroes,
and there is very little of the amusing reflections about pop culture trivia
that normally characterize a Smith film. This film is almost 100% focused on
sexual relationships and the correlation of those relationships to love.
While there is minimal nudity in Kevin's films, there is plenty here.
While it's far below Smith's films in the humor department, Kisses and Caroms
was good enough to hold my attention about 80% of the time, the exceptions occurring when some
minor characters got too much screen time unrelated to the development of the
story. For example, the billiard store employs a really dumb guy who forgets to
flush after a bowel movement, then drops his ring into the toilet. That
scene probably didn't go on that long, but it seemed like an eternity at the
time, especially given that the dumb guy could have been written out of the
script entirely without losing a blessed thing.