Kevin Smith is one of those love 'em or loath 'em directors. He
has a large avid group of fans and a group of detractors that's nearly
just as large. The upshot is that even if you've never seen Jay
and Silent Bob Strike Back, chances are good that you know whether
you'll like it or not. I fall into the 'like it' category, and though
it isn't one of his best efforts, the film is as amusing as it is crude.
Now released on Blu-ray as part of Buena Vista's initial foray into the
format, the HD image looks fine though it's not very spectacular.
Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (writer/ director Kevin Smith), the
supporting characters from Smith's earlier movies (Clerks, Mallrats,
Chasing Amy, and Dogma) get their very own feature film at last.
When the pair of slacker drug dealers discover that a comic book based
losely based on them is getting made into a movie, they leave their usual
hangout in front of a convenience store and head to Hollywood to put a
stop to the filming. Along the way they run into a group of lovely
jewel thieves, steal a monkey from a scientific testing center, meet up
with Scooby and the Gang, and manage to poke fun at movies, the internet,
pop culture, and especially Kevin Smith's own films. Nothing is sacred
and no fart joke too lame to tell.
While there isn't much of a plot, and what is there isn't all that great,
this movie has more jokes per minute by far than any of Smith's other movies.
There are gags and parodies to go along with just about every film splice
and though a few of them fall flat, most of them work. While this
is one of Smith's funniest movies, it's also one of the emptiest and sadly
doesn't have the appeal of many of his other films.
Kevin Smith's strength as a filmmaker is creating movies that, at their
heart, are social satires that he then sprinkles liberally with jokes and
amusing situations. This movie has the gags but nothing underneath
and that's why it's ultimately one of his weaker efforts. While there's
always been some element of unreality in a Smith film, this one doesn't
even attempt to be believable or real. While it's not hard to imagine
a man falling in love with a lesbian or a guy getting stuck pulling a double
shift on his day off, it's hard to buy just about anything in this film.
Having said that, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back is still funny,
hilarious is parts, and well worth watching. It's great to try to
pick out all of the obscure movie references and guest appearances that
are thrown in. This is a fun film, even if it is not as good as it
could have been.
Note: The only Blu Ray DVD player on the market at the time of this
review is the Samsung BD P1000. Apparently an error crept into the design,
and a noise reduction algorithm on one of the chips was turned on which
creates a softer picture. As yet there is no fix for this.
The 2.35:1, 1080p video image was about average when compared to the
Blu-ray other discs that have come out so far. It wasn't great, but
it wasn't bad either. The level of detail was good, better than the
SD release of the film, and the blacks were nice and solid. The contrast
was good and the print was fine. (Though I was disappointed to see two
spots through the entire film.) On the down side there was a bit
of digital noise, not excessive like some releases but it was present in
some scenes. The colors also seemed to be tweaked a bit too much,
making some scenes look a bit artificial and some flesh tones were just
a tad too red. While none of these flaws were damning, it still made
the film look only average.
Buena Vista offers the choice of an uncompressed 48kHz/16-bit PCM 5.1
track which I screened the film with, or a 5.1 DD mix in English and dubbed
in French which I spot checked. This is a dialog based film and as
such a large amount of the sound comes from the front speakers. There
are some effects thrown to the rears, and quite effectively too, but this
is not one of those soundtracks that really immerses the viewer in the
mix. The dialog is always clean and clear and the musical sore sounded
more powerful than I was expecting. The PCM track did a particularly
good job with the music which had full range and a good amount of bass.
A solid soundtrack that fits the movie well.
When it came to putting this disc together, BVHE certainly had a lot
of material to choose from. The previous release of this movie was
a 2 disc set with enough bonus items to sate the most ardent Kevin Smith
fan. Sadly though, you'll have to keep your SD copies if you want
to have access to that material since just about all of it was discarded
when making this disc. The only bonus feature that was kept is a
commentary by Kevin Smith, Jason Mewes, and producer Scott Mosier.
Smith's commentaries are often hilarious, and this one is good, but not
as entertaining as the ones on some of his earlier films. He
does admit that, contrary to the advertising campaign that accompanied
the film's release, you really do need to see his earlier works to get
the jokes in this movie, and generally has a good time.
Though this isn't my favorite Kevin Smith movie, I do enjoy watching
it. I just wish that it had a stronger subtext to hang all of the
jokes on. Even so it's a funny film if you don't mind bathroom humor.
It works well for what it is. The Blu-ray release looks fine, though
not exceptional, and has more detail than the standard definition release.