'Jay and Silent Bob' is|
for Kevin Smith fans
August 30, 2001
By Franklin Harris
Writer/director Kevin Smith has decided to close his Jersey Saga with a film only his die-hard fans can fully appreciate, although others may find it amusing nevertheless.
"Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back," as its title suggests, puts the focus on the two characters who have appeared in all five of Smith's movies, Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Smith).
A typical movie odd couple, Silent Bob only speaks when he has something profound to say. In "Clerks" and "Chasing Amy," he delivers advice about relationships. In "Mallrats," he quotes Yoda: "Adventure. Excitement. A Jedi craves not these things."
Jay, on the other hand, is rude, crude and never shuts up.
In the course of Smith's films, Jay and Silent Bob have gone from neighborhood pot dealers to bumbling sidekicks to prophets of the Apocalypse, the last in Smith's fourth film, "Dogma."
This time they are crusaders, after a fashion.
In "Chasing Amy," we learn that a pair of comic-book artists have used Jay and Silent Bob as the models for their parody superheroes, Bluntman and Chronic. Now, Miramax has purchased the movie rights to the characters, and "Bluntman and Chronic: The Movie" is scheduled to begin filming in three days.
There are just two problems. First, Jay and Silent Bob haven't been paid their cut for the movie rights. Second, hordes of Web surfing movie geeks are ripping the film and its characters on a popular Internet gossip site, modeled after Aint-It-Cool-News.com.
Silent Bob mostly seems concerned about the money, but the insults are more than Jay can tolerate. After all, he has a reputation to maintain, such as it is. So, Jay decides he and Silent Bob must put a stop to the movie no matter what, and the two set out on a road trip from New Jersey to Hollywood.
Along the way, they encounter characters from past Smith films. Jason Lee reprises two of his roles, Brodie Bruce ("Mallrats") and Banky Edwards ("Chasing Amy"), while Ben Affleck, whose first major role was in "Mallrats," plays both comic-book artist Holden McNeil from "Chasing Amy" and himself.
Cameo appearances include George Carlin and a hitchhiker, Carrie Fisher as a nun, Mark Hamill as a comic-book supervillain and filmmakers Wes Craven and Gus Van Sant as themselves.
You don't need to have seen all of Smith's films to appreciate his pop-culture-laced humor, which pokes fun at everything from Affleck's and Matt Damon's post-"Good Will Hunting" career choices to the original "Planet of the Apes" to, of course, "Star Wars."
I counted at least three references to the '70s children's TV show "The Land of the Lost." There is a clueless wildlife officer named Marshall Wilenholly (Will Ferrell). There is a sheriff from Sleestak County. And Chris Rock plays a movie director named Chaka.
But there are in-jokes only Smith's fans will get, such as why everyone asks convenience-store clerk Dante Hicks (Brian O'Halloran) if he is supposed to be working today.
The weight of the movie falls on Mewes, which could easily lead to disaster. Jay is funny in small doses, but he can become insufferable over the course of two hours, as in "Dogma." But this time Mewes gives Jay, who was never a genius, an added bit of cluelessness that makes his offensive comments and behavior easier to stomach. He is vulgar because he doesn't know any better. And when his mom appears during a flashback scene, we see why.
Mind you, I still don't know what Jay's love interest (played by Shannon Elizabeth) sees in him.
For Smith's fans, this is easily the funniest movie of the year and an excellent farewell to Smith's bizarre cast of characters.
And if there is a message here, it is this: All of you know-nothing fanboys who post anonymous rants on Internet bulletin boards will get yours someday. So, watch your backs.