It’s time to say ‘goodbye,’ according to Kevin Smith, to his token recurring characters — the C3PO and R2-D2 of the local Quick Stop — Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith). Since their inception as two stoner losers hanging out in front of the local Quick Stop ‘smokin’ blunts and kickin’ asses’ in Clerks, Jay and Silent Bob have received ever expanding roles in Smith’s later features –Mallrats, Chasing Amy, and Dogma. But when these two guys showed up in a cameo in Scream 3, that was the moment when they ‘jumped the shark’ (aka lost their unique appeal and devolved into would-be Happy Meal figurines). I wouldn’t be surprised if two 10-foot tall character replicants greeted all guests at Miramax’s HQ.
If you looking for a plot in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, don’t bother. Smith uses the safe convention of repetition by including certain key locations of his first three films and all of their main characters — minus Dogma. By doing this, Smith creates a familiar universe for Jay and Silent Bob to venture through and trick the audience into remembering their old favorites and ignore the throwaway script.
The story goes something like this. Due to the success of a comic book series called Bluntman and Chronic, which used Jay and Silent Bob for character inspiration, the boys are living life well on royalty checks and hanging out at the same local Quick Stop from Clerks. Upon hearing that Bluntman and Chronic has been sold to Miramax and the boys have received no compensation, they head to Hollywood to stop the production. Along the way, four hot chicks (the one you don’t recognize is Kevin Smith’s real-life wife) pick them up — girls straight off the covers of Maxim and Stuff, actually jewel thieves in need of two patsies for their next job. Jay and Silent Bob are framed for the robbery of an orangutan and are then hunted by Federal Wildlife Marshal Wilenholly (Will Ferrell) as they travel the back roads to Hollywood to clear their names.
At first Strike Back is pleasant enough thanks to all the nostalgia. But the happiness wears off quickly as it becomes all too apparent that Smith has fallen for the same grab bag of pop culture that teen comedy producers eat with a spoon. Scooby Doo, Charlie’s Angels, and numerous references to the Star Wars films – including a blatant cameo by Mark Hamill and, well, the title — all make lame appearances. Endless tongue-in-cheek references to Miramax’s totalitarian control of ‘independent’ cinema come off as empty and contrived, as if Miramax suits thought they could mock themselves while raking in the cash. (It didn’t work for Josie and the Pussycats either, fellas.)
Tons of people (literally, at least 4,000 pounds worth of celebrities) show up in this film — including John Stewart, Matt Damon, James Van Der Beek, Joey Lauren Adams, Judd Nelson, Gus Van Sant, Shannen Doherty, Wes Craven, Jason Biggs, Ali Larter, George Carlin, and Chris Rock to name but a few. Ironically, they are playing themselves in a film that unilaterally mocks them. The self-loathing impresses, and if that was Smith’s intention for the film, then it’s admirable.
Alas, any such sentiment is drowned in a sea of dick jokes, fart jokes, and references to the 1980s.
On DVD, that sea is deep, as Jay and Silent Bob has become the least likely film of all time to get a two-disc ‘collector’s edition’ DVD release. A commentary track sits on disc one along with the movie, disc two has, among various extras, nearly an hour and a half of extended/deleted scenes (along with introductions to the scenes — the intros taking up more time than the extra scenes themselves). The degree to which Smith pimps his friends and family (including his little daughter) is just astonishing. Strike back, indeed!
The eight highlights of the movie.