“It’s gonna get grown-up in here…”
The chilling phrase by Abin Cooper (played by Michael Parks) from Kevin Smith’s latest motion picture, Red State, basically sums up the entire film and its creative development process. Kevin Smith, known for his narrative, over-the-top, comedic characters, goes even deeper into the three things your mother told you never to discuss; Sex, Religion and Politics!
Before we tell you more about Red State, we shall tell you that we’ve always been fans of Kevin Smith. We have enjoyed his previous movies (Clerks, Mallrats and Dogma) and have always pegged Chasing Amy as his number one writing masterpiece. It wasn’t until SModcast and the development of his podcast empire that we really began to admire Kevin, and in turn, he began to influence us. With his numerous weekly shows, you really get to know Kevin and his entourage on a more personal level; all while laughing at his grand tales and life experiences such as attempting to suck his own dick. It’s because of his SModcast Network that we’ve been following the development of Red State since it’s inception in early 2007.
While said to be a horror flick, Red State is more of an action-thriller that follows the exploits of the Five Points Trinity Church consisting mostly of the Cooper Family, led by Abin. This fundamentalist Christian group is met at a crossroads with the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms headed by Agent Keenan (John Goodman). When these two heavyweight organizations come to an impasse, the action escalates into both physical and psychological warfare. In the 90-minute runtime, the characters are introduced, developed and very quickly thrown into the main plotline. This keeps the film very tight and to the point with first Act being purely development, the second Act being utter escalation, which leads to the third act that brings it all together…literally. Described as a roller-coaster of affairs, Red State really has no single character narrative. Just when you think you are following the story of Abin Cooper, we are taken to the perspective of his granddaughter trying to escape the horrors of Cooper’s Dell. One minute you find yourself cheering for the ATF and the next we are locked inside Five Points Trinity Church singing hymns with the fictional allusion to the Westboro Baptist Church (who are known for their extreme stance on homosexuality and constant protest of military family funerals). The best way to describe Red State would be to take every movie Kevin Smith has ever written, edited and directed and literally throw it out the window.
Oddly enough, while Red State is completely different then his previous endeavors, it is still very much a Kevin Smith movie. With Abin Cooper’s extremely long and overdrawn initial dialogue, we are painted an extremely well-explained picture of what occurs behind the closed doors of the god-fearing culture. This coupled with some well timed one-liners and action sequences; we are subtlety reminded of some of the themes echoed in Smith’s previous films. While we enjoyed Red State rather immensely, our opinion may be skewed based on two factors. As we mentioned, we followed the development of the film via the numerous podcasts which gave me an insider’s perspective. Hearing about this project in-depth and then seeing it come to life on the big screen was an impressive process. To hear how a scene is written, casted and filmed and then to actually see it with your own eyes makes you feel like your part of the filmmaking process. The second factor was that we attended the screening amongst 1,800 fans at the Los Angeles Wiltern theatre on April 9 2011. The cheers that arise when an antagonist is defeated or when an old-school actor simply turns on a light in his first scene adds to the emotion portrayed and communicated in this film.
Does this mean that you need to listen to the Red State of the Union podcast (found at www.smodcast.com) and attend a live, interactive screening to enjoy the film? We really don’t think so. The story is written well-enough to capture the imagination of the general audience. The plot gets so brutal at times you actually find yourself cringing, hoping that a certain someone is killed before its too late. While we consider this movie a great presentation due to our experiences, the average viewer should find it generally entertaining. Regardless, from a technical standpoint, this is Smith’s best work. An air of dismay was heard in the theatre as he announced that “Hit Somebody” (his next feature film) would be his final film. Focusing his energy on podcasting and internet radio (S.I.R launches May 9th), Smith is decidedly reminding Hollywood of one of the first rules of entertainment, “Always leave them wanting more.”
Red State is a solid 4 ‘Toddske Hats’ out of 5.
To hear more of Kevin Smith, visit www.smodcast.com and prepare to be blown…away! For more on Red State (which hits theatres October 2011), visit www.coopersdell.com and remember to FEAR GOD! To hear more of our thoughts on Red State, Kevin Smith, and social commentary on numerous issues in Alberta, Canada and around the world check out all of our YMM Podcast episodes.
Toddske and Tito