Writer/director/one-man cottage industry Kevin Smith is nothing if not generous to his friends. From helping Jason Mewes get sober and writing Clerks II in celebration to producing his pal's movies (Bryan Johnson's "Vulgar") and providing bit roles in all of the View Askewniverse films to his extended gang of buddies, Smith is charitable to a fault. In some cases, this is an admirable trait, but in others, you wish Smith would snap to and discourage some of his friends from creating cinematic visions of their own -- particularly when the end result borders on slavish re-creation of Smith's earlier works.
Now You Know, the writing/directing debut of Jeff Anderson (best known as caustic Clerks character Randal), was completed in 2002, but is just now seeing release on DVD -- and it's not just due to the synergistic tie-in with Clerks II (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). I'm sure it just took four years for Anderson to get comfortable with the fact that he's not-so-transparently ripping off his pal, right down to the pop culture arguments (Prince vs. Michael Jackson!), uncertain life changes (dude gets dumped right before his wedding!) and general cheerful profanity (nearly every character who walks in front of the camera!).
Now You Know is annoying in its earnestness to present both a wacky comedy and a serious, adult-minded drama -- Jeremy Sisto stars as Jersey-born Jeremy, a man whose fiancee, Kerri (Rashida Jones, currently knockin' 'em out on NBC's "The Office"), elected to cancel their wedding at the 11th hour. After an overlong opening scene set during Jeremy's bachelor party -- which also features gratuitous cameos from Smith and his wife Jennifer -- Now You Know gets down to business, following Jeremy around as he reunites with Biscuit (Clerks II scene stealer Trevor Fehrman) and Gil (Anderson), two friends who spend their days getting wasted and mowing lawns, and sorting through the shattered pieces of her relationship.
I wish I could say this was a moving, or even interesting, examination of growing up and accepting responsibility, but it's really just an excuse to play "Spot the Smithism" -- Anderson has an identical visual style to his Red Bank compadre and even a similar pop culture appropriation technqiue; it makes the film feel derivative in nearly every sense, undermining what Anderson's trying to achieve. He can't disassociate himself enough from Smith and his work to create anything with his own voice, which renders Now You Know as a vanity project by proxy -- there's not really much of a reason for this flick to exist (engaging cast notwithstanding) other than for Smith to feel a little better about his friends. The DVD
Now You Know is presented in a clean, razor-sharp 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that belies the film's low-budget roots; this is one solid visual representation. Blacks are rich, colors are vivid (the early bachelor party scenes are handled with nary a trace of defect) and there's a minimal amount of grain. Very, very nice. The Audio:
The DVD case touts a Dolby Digital 5.1 track, but the only audio option available is a paltry Dolby 2.0 stereo track, one which had me reaching for the volume knob -- very thin and lacking real presence, there were sequences of dialogue that were practically unintelligible owing to a dearth of volume. Surprising, perhaps, but also expected for an independent film such as this. Optional English and Spanish subtitles are on board. The Extras:
The supplements fall in line with other Smith-related films, that is to say, they're informative while being self-deprecating and scatological -- Smith and Anderson contribute an informative, candid commentary track, as well as an 11 minute, 18 second introduction, with a 43 minute, 27 second Q&A with Anderson, director of photography Marco Cappetta and Fehrman rounding out the disc. Final Thoughts:
I wish I could say this was a moving, or even interesting, examination of growing up and accepting responsibility, but it's really just an excuse to play "Spot the Kevin Smithism" -- writer/director Jeff Anderson has an identical visual style to his Red Bank compadre and even a similar pop culture appropriation technqiue; it makes the film feel derivative in nearly every sense, undermining what Anderson's trying to achieve. Only the very die-hard View Askew-heads need to check this one out, and as a rental, at that. Skip it.