During the commentary track for "Chasing Amy", director Kevin Smith bemoans the fact that, no matter how hard he tries to improve his craft, fans always come up to him and tell him the scenes with Jay and Silent Bob are their favorites. Although things were a little shaky with the protesting over Smith's "Dogma" (which simply stopped the moment the film was released) and the unfortunate failure of the director's cartoon show based upon his first film, "Clerks", it was time to, well, "strike back". According to Smith, it was time to wrap up the "View Askewniverse" that he's built his features thus far upon.
So, we're introduced to how Jay and "hetero life-mate" Silent Bob first met. The familiar setting of the Quick Stop in New Jersey opens the picture, where we see two babies being wheeled up next to one another, while both parents leave them alone outside to watch over one another. And, as we'd expect, a torrent of profanity exits the young Jay's mouth - and then we're shuttled off to present day. The two are quickly booted from their place outside the front of the shop when the two clerks (Jeff Anderson and Brian O'Halloran from "Clerks") become exhausted with trying to get the two drug dealers off their property and simply call the cops. Afterwards, the two find that the comic book based upon their lives ("Bluntman and Chronic") is being turned into a motion picture by Miramax (the studio that produced "Chasing Amy" & "Clerks", then backed out of their plans to release "Dogma").
The duo are then introduced to the internet, where they find that net-surfers are bashing "Jay and Silent Bob" based not upon themselves, but the characters that the movie presents. They don't understand that and set out with one thing in mind: to stop the picture from being made. This leads to one of the oldest of all comedic genres: the road trip. The two run into a group of international jewel thieves (Eliza Dushku, Ali Larter, Shannon Elizabeth and Smith's wife, Jennifer Schwalbach), one of which, Justice (Elizabeth), Jay falls for. The clueless duo get themselves in hot water though, and while they make their way to Hollywood, they eventually become aware they're being followed.
Although Smith is gifted at writing sex and fart jokes, the film is at its best when it seeks out obvious Hollywood targets (Jay sees Ben Affleck in a particular scene and shouts, in one of the film's funniest lines, "Phantoms was the bomb!", refering to Affleck's much-laughed at late 90's sci-fi outing. Affleck, who seems like a good sport on Smith's commentary tracks, also takes a few slaps for "Reindeer Games" and "Forces Of Nature". Affleck's "hetero life-mate" Matt Damon also gets a few jokes thrown his way regarding "Talented Mr. Ripley" and "Legend Of Bagger Vance". Another wonderfully funny (and completely true) discussion revolves around when Miramax changed from classy art pictures - "After 'She's All That', everything went to hell".)
There's little plot here, which I certainly expected. I wasn't exactly sure whether or not Jay and Silent Bob would hold up for an entire feature-length picture, but they manage to entertain, as well. Although I found much of the humor quite entertaining in "Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back", there were a few things that didn't work particularly well for me. Will Ferrell overstays his welcome as a clueless federal park ranger, for example.
Yet, Smith has made some improvements as a filmmaker. His visual style (which Affleck hilariously rips on him due to his lack of in the commentary tracks for previous films) has improved noticably here over any of his previous films. Here, that's likely due to cinematographer Jaime Anderson ("Grosse Pointe Blank") who really helps the picture quite a bit. Smith actually goes for something resembling good sound here, for the first time. Sound designer Tom Myers ("The Mexican", Smith's "Dogma", "Pitch Black") definitely doesn't turn the film into "Armageddon", but the film's sound use was more entertaining than any of Smith's previous outings.
"Jay and Silent Bob" is consistently funny, but occasionally extremely hilarious. It's not completely consistent during its 95 minutes, but View Askew fans will likely, as I did, find a lot of hilarity and even some witty moments amidst the fart jokes. Those who frown upon such "potty-mouth" (a phrase joked about the commentary for Smith's "Mallrats") humor will likely be better off seeking something else at the multiplex.
VIDEO: Miramax presents "Jay and Silent Bob" in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. Smith's films have been progressing nicely in terms of visuals since the begining and this is the second film (after "Dogma") that's been nicely done in 2.35:1. This is also the best transfer that a Smith film has ever recieved; it's not without a few minor flaws, but it's really quite solid overall. Sharpness and detail are impressive, as the picture remained crystal clear and well-defined throughout.
The only problem seen throughout "Jay and Silent Bob" is that some slight edge enhancement is visible on occasion throughout the picture, but enough that I found it particularly irriating or even that noticable. No pixelation was seen and the print was completely free of any flaws. Colors remained bright and vibrant throughout, with no smearing or other problems. This is a really wonderful presentation that was nearly fault-free.
SOUND: Smith's films have been presented in 5.1 since "Mallrats", but there really wasn't much going on sound-wise in the director's films until "Dogma". Surrounds are put into solid use throughout the movie, often for the music, but occasionally for some creative sound effects. The music sounds absolutely fantastic throughout the film, sounding dynamic and crisp. Dialogue remained clear, while some decent bass was occasionally present. According to the back of the box, this is a special sound mix for the DVD.
MENUS: The menus have some slight animation and dialogue-clips in the background, but are generally pretty basic.
Commentary: This is a commentary from director/actor/writer Kevin Smith, producer Scott Mosier and actor Jason Mewes. Smith's commentary tracks have become something of minor legend, as they have been hilarious and occasionally vuglar parties that combine hilarious goofing on themselves and the occasional hints of interesting information about the making of the movie. Yet, these tracks have really been assisted by the presence of Ben Affleck; while not always a consistent actor, Affleck's savagely funny rips upon both his own performance and Smith's filmmaking capabilities have really made for classic moments. Still, Smith plays host well on the commentaries and he does well again here, accompanied by Mosier (production and technical details) and Mewes (wacky nonsense). While I would have liked more of the cast to be involved in this track - and it's not quite as entertaining as some of the other Smith commentary tracks - the three particpants still provide an entertaining discussion.
Deleted Scenes: No less than 42 deleted scenes have been included in this section, with Smith, Mosier, Mewes and others providing introductions to each one of the sequences. Thankfully, there is a "play all" option included here, as most of these sequences are pretty short. Some of these are also sequences that irritated the MPAA (apparently, the film originally got an NC-17.)
Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash: No, this is not more promotion for Smith's comic book store (which can also be found at viewaskew.com), it's actually four little clips that revolve around Judd Nelson, Affleck, Will Ferrell and Jon Stewart improving or acting generally silly.
Gag Reel: A moderately funny reel of actors (mainly Mewes) breaking up mid-scene and laughing.
Still Galleries: This is broken up into three sections: "On The Set" - production photos; "Birth Of A Poster" - tons of poster concepts, most of which I thought were better or even way better than the final choice and "Jay and Silent Bob Comics".
Net Trailers: Two trailers that were released on the 'net, complete with intros.
Music Videos: Afroman, "Because I Got High" and Stroke 9, "Kick Some Ass".
Morris Day and the Time: A little featurette, "Learnin' The Moves" as well as a text supplement, "Guide To Morris Day and the Time", are included.
TV Spots: 6 TV spots from the flick.
Behind The Scenes: Two documentaries are included, one behind-the-scenes featurette and a Comedy Central "Reel Comedy" documentary. Both of which are quite funny and feature interviews from Smith, Mewes and most of the rest of the cast and crew. There's a little "promotion" involved in both of these, but they at least talk about the story in an amusing and engaging way instead of just going over each step of what happens in the film.
DVD_ROM: Morris Day and the Time Bio, Screenplay viewer, weblinks and a rather odd feature - Open Mic DVD, where you can record your own commentary for scenes from the film.
Also: Storyboards and biographies.
Final Thoughts: It certainly doesn't have much of a plot, but "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" sets out to deliver raunchy humor and it does so with at least an mild amount of wit. Watching it again after seeing it in theaters, I still laughed constantly. The DVD provides surprisingly good audio/video and the usual wealth of extras one might expect from the DVD of a Smith-directed flick.