Movie Review: Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back
Release Date: August 24, 2001
· Kevin Smith
· Kevin Smith
· Jason Mewes
by Jamie Ruccio
Published: August 22, 2001
There are occasionally directors who are privileged enough to create one or perhaps a series of movies that resonate with a particular group of people at a certain time in their collective lives. John Hughes is best known for crafting several movies, that for anyone who was a teenager in the 80s, perfectly captured the wacky nature of growing up at that time. In some sense Kevin Smith picked up where Hughes left off when he made "Clerks". For most people in their 20s during the early 90s "Clerks" is a companion to our Post High School lives. It dealt with and explored those first tentative steps into true, parentally untethered life with all the accompanying confusion, self doubt and angst. Kevin Smith continued the stories loosely in several other movies with reoccurring characters and themes. The series concluding film, "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" chronicles the most famous characters in his fictional universe, Jay and Silent Bob. They are the typical slackers descendants of Cheech and Chong and Bill and Ted. Previously only seen with brief scenes in "Clerks", "Mallrats", "Chasing Amy" and "Dogma" Jay and Silent Bob finally get their own movie. Unfortunately the movie degenerates from the opening scene and is reduced to situations used to set up one dick, fart and homosexual joke after the other.
"Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" is a simple story. Their friend, Brody (Jason Lee) created a comic book based on them, "Blunt Man and Chronic". The rights to the comic book are snatched up in a frenzy after the real world success of "X-Men" and it's going to be made into a movie. Realizing what this would do to their under ground credibility and more importantly...their chances with girls which they think would be significantly hampered, they set off to stop the movie.
The movie is full of cameos and in-jokes for the fans. George Carlin has one memorable scene that should become infamous for the wincing it induces. Most of the characters from his previous movies make appearances, like those played by Jason Lee, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. The movie is a giant eye poke to Miramax who takes several shots as well as Ben Affleck who is singled out for particular good natured ribbing. Some of the scenes or jokes fall flat because for the most part they feel forced and artificial. Gone is the rapid fire dialogue that doesn't pause for audience laughter. There isn't the usual verbal creativity either as one character stays silent for most of the movie. It definitely suffered from too much of a good thing. The characters that make great scenes but not good enough for an entire movie.
The objections from GLAAD are well founded. Much of the movie is laced with crude, disparaging jokes about homosexuality. I don't think Kevin Smith has a particular bias however. It's just like those 12 years in the school yard tossing around words which they think aren't funny until their pulled aside and told that their really not. Basically, like teenagers Jay and Silent Bob spend much of the movie questioning each other's sexual preference.
Jason Mewes as Jay absolutely carries this movie. Even when the writing fails his facial expressions and delivery save the material. He is the perfect, horny teenager. There are a few scenes when his seemingly unscripted gestures completely kill the audience.
Kevin Smith as Silent Bob is also a master at the comedic facial expression and anyone whose a fan of the character will not leave disappointed.
I don't know what the rest of the world will think but it was enough for me. I can't help but feel a little cheated however. Kevin Smith films are hardly high art but they were like snapshots from college. The snapshots were nice to look at the bottom of some box as we unpacked perhaps into our first owned house. They made us smile and remember those times. The movies spoke, in a light hand, to what it was like to be a young adult in the 90s for many. "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" is a simple teen hijinks, roadtrip flick. In the end it was a nice farewell piece to the fans and for that it made me smile. Thanks Kevin...see you at our kids graduation.
The trailers were:
"Big Trouble" which got little reaction and looked standard. "Shallow Hal" which got it's typical good/great reaction and looked great. "Heist" which got little reaction and looked again, standard. One other I can't remember.
The reaction to "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" was good for the most part but even this ardent crowd fell into polite laughter at points. Some of the jokes were really juvenile and it's not me...I watched "Clerks" and "Mallrats" last night and laughed like hell (Randall: "How are you doing?" Dante: "I'm Ok, the FDS doesn't sting as much as before." Absolutely one of my favorite movie quotes). If you like teen comedies or Kevin Smith flicks it's worth the ticket price. The most meaningless of his films it'll probably surpass his previous opening BO by far, as long as they emphasize the crude humor and boob shots. I think the commercials are effective in doing this and targeting the teen demo...especially the last week's worth. I'm Long based on this, my gut and GFB allegiance. I'm not calling anything above a H$45 adjust however. It's one of those stocks I just can't play based solely on my head.