Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back
directed by Kevin Smith
(View Askew, 2001)

In a way, it's 90 minutes of watching Kevin Smith masturbate with the help of all his friends.

As someone who has enjoyed Smith's previous movies (Clerks, Chasing Amy and Dogma; I've yet to see Mallrats), I was quick to get into line to see his latest flick, Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back. Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Smith) are perpetual background characters in all of Smith's films, taking a more dominant role only in Dogma. Now, they're the stars of their very own story, and Smith takes a great deal of personal pleasure in giving them an over-the-top send-off. (This is supposed to be their last appearance on screen.)

Anyone who hasn't seen Smith's previous films should avoid this one. There are too many references, cameo appearances and the like to make sense to a Smith's World virgin. Ditto to anyone who saw but didn't like Smith's films; if you didn't like them, you'll hate this one. A lot.

Jay is a trash-talking, sex-obsessed, drug-dealing stoner. Silent Bob is -- well, he's pretty quiet. Most of the time. The movie is packed from start to finish with fart, dick and gay jokes, lots of profanity and very little plot or character development. And it's riddled with references to the previous films.

Jay and Silent Bob were the real-life models for a comic book, Bluntman & Chronic, written by Holden McNeil and Banky Edwards (Ben Affleck and Jason Lee, both of whom reprise their roles here) in Chasing Amy. Now Banky has sold the film rights of the comic to Miramax (who earned Smith's venom by dumping distribution of Dogma), and Jay and Silent Bob set off for Hollywood to stop the film from being made and protect their reputations from Internet movie dweebs. Along the way they meet a variety of new and old characters: Brian O'Halloran and Jeff Anderson as Dante Hicks (who shouldn't be working today) and Randal Graves (both from Clerks), George Carlin as a seasoned hitchhiker, Carrie Fisher as a kindly nun, Will Ferrell as a federal wildlife marshall and Judd Nelson as a Utah police chief. They fall in with animal rights activists/international jewel thieves Justice (Shannon Elizabeth), Sissy (Eliza Dushku), Chrissy (Ali Larter) and Missy (Jennifer Schwalbach Smith, Smith's real-life wife), which in turn leads Jay and Silent Bob to steal an ape and go on a The Fugitive-style lam.

Once they reach Hollywood, they cross paths with entertainment reporter Jules Asner, actors Affleck, Matt Damon and Shannen Doherty (all playing themselves in questionable sequels), actors James Van Der Beek, Jason Biggs and Mark Hamill (playing themselves as actors in the Bluntman & Chronic film), directors Wes Craven and Gus Van Sant (as themselves), Diedrich Bader as a Miramax security guard and Chris Rock as angry director Chaka Luther King. As if that's not enough cameos, you'll also catch glimpses of Marvel Comics chief Joe Quesada, Paul Dini, Morris Day, Joey Lauren Adams as Alyssa Jones (Affleck's love interest in Chasing Amy) and RenŽe Humphrey as Tricia Jones (from Mallrats). This movie is also very self-aware, dancing on both sides of the line between our world and Smith's World, with the characters at times realizing that there's an audience beyond the fourth wall.

Final word for Smith's detractors: Skip this movie.

However, Smith fans will come away with a very different reaction. They'll get all of the in-jokes. They'll enjoy all of the cameos. They'll know to take the gay-bashing as satire, not a political conviction. They'll see the gutter humor as a trademark for two beloved characters who are going away. And they'll probably laugh quite a lot, even if at times they're wondering why.

[ by Tom Knapp ]
Rambles: 1 September 2001

Buy it from Amazon.com.