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Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment // R // August 24, 2001
List Price: Unknown [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Aaron Beierle | posted September 1, 2001 | E-mail the Author
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 lad'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 often 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.
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