Raphael Pour-Hashemi has reviewed the theatrical release of Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back.
The fifth(!) in director Kevin Smith’s View Askew series. It’s a very hit and miss affair, but it will please geek-fans of the series.
This plot synopsis for Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back will either mean something to you or it won’t. New Jersey’s most famous stoner convenience story hangouts Jay and Silent Bob find themselves verbally slated on an Internet movie website due to the impending movie adaptation of the comic strip Bluntman and Chronic, which was based on the lives of the pair. Realising that they haven’t received a penny from this movie adaptation, and realising that their bad press on the Internet is down to this soon-to-be-made movie, Jay and Silent Bob set out on a road trip to Hollywood to sabotage it. On the way, they meet a host of weird and wacky characters including many from the View Askew world of Kevin Smith’s previous films, and manage to become entangled with a plot to rescue a cute endangered monkey and an attempted diamond heist. Essentially, the plot is a frame for director Kevin Smith to fool around with all of his film buddies and indulge his worshipping geeky masses.
Kevin Smith has managed to carve his own cinematic audience out of pulp-fiction-loving geeky comic-book readers who spend their time arguing over Star Wars irrelevances on the Internet. Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back is the fifth film to contain characters with origins from Smith’s View Askew character universe, and surely now enough is enough. The series of films (Which contain Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy and Dogman) was of a variable quality anyway but has always maintained a cult nerd following. If anything, Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back seems designed specifically for Smith’s own fans, as if he is merely supplying the View Askew appreciation society with another film just so they can discuss it on the internet. They better lap this film up while they can, as surely this is the end of the Jay and Silent Bob adventures? Smith has turned the series on its head by destroying the blurred divisions between the view askew world and the real world, and this type of apparent self-parody always spells the end for film series.
The problem with Kevin Smith films is that he always just about scrapes through. His directing is sometimes very good and sometimes appalling, and his writing is filled with witty one-liners and yet some painfully amateur set-ups. Smith is also heavily self-indulgent, and just like Mallrats and Dogma, Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back is over-long, and needs trimming. There are some hilarious moments, and there are some moments that just don’t work (do we really need another Planet Of The Apes parody?), but on the whole the film is quite enjoyable. What’s interesting to note is the change in fortunes of some of the actors involved. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, two overrated scriptwriter/actors who have not made the best movie decisions, take the opportunity to send themselves up, and Affleck even appears as two characters – Holden, and himself. However, their presence in the movie lacks class in an unidentifiable way, and it seems like they are no longer in the movie A-list. Jason Lee however, seems to be moving from strength to strength, and it won’t be long before he becomes a star in the John Cusack tradition. There are a number of funny/surreal cameos that are worth mentioning, but they severely spoil the plot. What’s also interesting about the characters, is the character inversion of Jay and Silent Bob. Over the course of the five Kevin Smith films, Jay (Jason Mewes) seems to have transformed from an immensely annoying dope-head drop out to a witty, loveable dope-head drop out, and Mewes carries the movie splendidly. Silent Bob (Kevin Smith himself) however, has now become rather irritating, and his almost total silence and obsession with using hand signals to communicate is both frustrating and a joke that how now worn very thin. Smith, just like Tarantino, is a capable writer/director but a terrible actor.
To be honest, Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back is a mixed bag of hit and miss entertainment (and yes that is the annoying Afroman song in the closing credits). It will pass the time nicely for newcomers to Smith’s films, but his devotees will gain the real pleasure. Be warned, that every cinema seems guaranteed to have at least one row filled with View Askew obsessives who will laugh loudly at every subtle reference that Smith throws into the film. It’s time to move on for Kevin Smith now, as he needs to prove himself outside of the five films he has made, and only in time will we know if he succeeds.
It’s the end, but the moment has been prepared for…
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