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The Surprising Sports Comedy Classic That Kevin Smith Calls His Favorite Movie - Exclusive

Perhaps the biggest reason fans have connected with Kevin Smith is the fact that through interviews, one-man shows, and podcast gigs over the years, they've discovered the acclaimed writer-director is just as big a fan of movies as they are. Simply put, since Smith broke through with his indie comedy smash "Clerks" in 1994, he's made movies of his own and consumed countless hours of other stories made for the big screen.

In an exclusive interview with Looper to talk about "Clerk" — a documentary about Smith's life and groundbreaking career — the filmmaker was presented with the difficult task of paring down every movie he's seen in his life to five select favorites and ultimately, his all-time fave. Not among his all-time top picks is director Richard Linklater's legendary indie comedy drama "Slacker," a surprise since Smith said in "Clerk" was the film that changed his life. "Look, 'Slacker' is the movie I owe the most to, the one that made me see the possibility, but it was never like, 'Oh, my God, I identify with the subject matter,' because I didn't live like that," Smith told Looper.

The deal breaker? "Slacker" is "not focused on a character," Smith noted.

"So, that movie, while it did open up my eyes to indie film, doesn't an appeal to me as a guy who loves dialogue, or as a guy who loves character, because that is a character study where you're with a character for two minutes," Smith observed. "That character introduces you to another character, and then you're off to the races with that character, So, I respect the hell out of that movie. I love that movie for what it gave me and what it inspired in me. But I would never call it my favorite movie of all time."

Kevin Smith says The Bad News Bears is his favorite film because it taught him about losing

Whittling down his list of favorites to a half-dozen, Smith first rattled off five movie classics.

"I used to say that my top five were 'Jaws,' 'JFK,' 'Do the Right Thing,' 'The Last Temptation of Christ,' and 'A Man for All Seasons.' Now, I definitely watch those movies once every year, if not every other year," Smith said. "But would I still call them my favorites? Or is that like a stock answer that I've been giving since my 20s? If you asked me today, 'What's your favorite movie?' I'd be like, 'Might be 'Iron Man,” and people would be like, 'What? You're not Ridley Scott.' And I was like, 'Nobody ever accused me of being Ridley Scott,'" Smith enthused. "So, I'm the filmmaker that gets away with being like, 'I love all those Marvel movies — love how cookie cutter they are.'"

Smith revealed to Looper that a sports comedy classic from 1976 deeply resonates with him to this day because of how it prepared him for his life and career.

"Honestly, my favorite movie of all time may be 'The Bad News Bears.' Now, it's a bit controversial, because it hasn't aged that well. It has a lot of racism in it and vulgarity coming out of the mouths of babes. That was part of its charm in the '70s," Smith said. "Scrape away that stuff. What you're left with is the movie that taught an entire generation how to lose gracefully, not even gracefully, how to lose. Movies, when I was a kid, taught us that you weren't always special. You were many times outside of the mainstream, and they give you a movie about yourself as an underdog hero, perhaps. But you don't get it all."

Most movies are about winning, according to Smith

Effectively, Smith said "The Bad News Bears" is his favorite movie because it taught him "how to lose gracefully."

"Not only did 'The Bad News Bears' prepare me for the death of 'Mallrats,' the death of 'Chasing Amy,' the death of 'Yoga Hosers,' it prepared me to handle disappointment well in life," Smith said. "I always felt bad for the generation that came after us, because that was the T-ball generation. That was 'The Mighty Ducks' generation, where the Mighty Ducks win at the end."

Smith added that while "The Mighty Ducks" generation wasn't all the poorer for celebrating victory, he identifies most with "The Bad News Bears" because of its parallels to real life. "I still use ['The Bad News Bears'] on a regular basis when it comes to the disappointment and not being able to get what you want and do exactly what you want. So many movies have taught us, 'If you dream it, you can do it,' and stuff. And nowadays, parents tell their kids that," Smith explained. "But when I was a kid, our parents never said s*** like that. My father was like, 'See that mountain? Never climb it. You'll fall. You'll hurt yourself. Leave it for better people.'"

Ultimately, Smith concluded, "The Bad News Bears" taught audiences "that it was alright to lose."

"You can't always f****** win. That's what the movies is. They always win, except in "Empire Strikes Back," and except "Infinity War." But generally speaking, they always win and stuff," Smith said. "It was important to learn a lesson where it's like, these kids, they didn't get what they want — and they didn't go home crying or anything."

"Clerk" is now available to rent on digital video.