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Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back

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Release: 2001, Dimension
Starring: Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Shannon Elizabeth, Ben Affleck, Jason Lee, Will Ferrell, Chris Rock, Mark Hamill, Eliza Dushku, Ali Larter, Jennifer Schwalbach, Judd Nelson, Seann William Scott, Jon Stewart, Brian O'Halloran, Jeff Anderson, George Carlin, Carrie Fisher, Tracy Morgan, Jason Biggs, James Van Der Beek, Matt Damon, Shannen Doherty, Joey Lauren Adams, Steve Kmetko, Jules Asner, Diedrich Bader, Wes Craven, Gus Van Sant, Walter Flanagan, Bryan Johnson, Jamie Kennedy, Alanis Morissette...whew!
Director: Kevin Smith
MPAA Rating: [R] language, sexuality
Genre: Comedy
Runtime: 100 minutes

Hollywood had it coming...

Upon learning that Miramax is making a movie based on them without due monetary compensation, two pot-dealing idiots are determined to stop production of the film. Their quest takes them on a cross-country journey from New Jersey to California full of misadventures.

What's Good
loaded with cameos, in-jokes, and movie references
vulgar, politically-incorrect comedy
Jay and Silent Bob are two of the funniest characters ever

What's Bad
those unfamiliar with Jay and Bob may not get many of the jokes
time wasted by some mediocre new characters

Reviewer: Andrew Manning (08/01)

Toted as a gift to fans of the "New Jersey Chronicles," Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back is one of those rare movies that pulls no punches in getting its hilarious doctrine of vulgar comedy out there. For hardcore followers of Jay and Bob, this is easily one of the most amusing and entertaining flicks of the year; but for newcomers who haven't memorized every line in Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, and Dogma, this final chapter in the adventures of Kevin Smith's lovable hoodlums may make for an uneven time at the movies.

I include myself in the former group--I've been a fan of the foul-mouthed Jay and his hetero-lifemate since their loitering antics in Kevin Smith's breakout film Clerks. So for me, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back was like a giant reunion with old friends. And I do mean giant: it seems that just about everyone involved with Kevin Smith and/or Miramax makes an appearance in this movie, with the cast of American Pie, Star Wars, and Saturday Night Live thrown in to boot.

When a comic book based on Jay and Silent Bob called Bluntman and Chronic (as detailed in Chasing Amy) is bought by Miramax, the studio begins production of a feature film version without compensating the titular duo. Disturbed at the idea of not getting paid, the two become even more enraged when they find out there's a whole community of prepubescent geeks anonymously insulting them over the internet. So they set out from Red Bank, New Jersey to Hollywood, California with one goal in mind: "stop that stupid movie from being made." Their journey to Hollywood is one misadventure after another, further complicated by the law when a female gang of jewel thieves convinces them to steal "some sort of supermonkey" from a test lab.

While audiences not familiar with the past antics of Jay and Bob may not see much humor in the movie beyond its face value, longtime fans will be treated to loads of in-jokes and references. From the little subtleties (like Jay's talk of circus seals, or his flashing of the goat's head when Silent Bob fires his Bat-gun) to the obvious send-ups (Mark Hamill in a faux lightsabre fight), Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back is chock full of hilarious gags aimed exclusively at the fans. Dante, Randal, Brodie, Holden, Banky, Hooper X, SteveDave, Fanboy, and a host of other characters make appearances. And when actors tied to other View Askew productions can't reprise their former roles, there's plenty of opportunities to sneak them in: George Carlin doesn't have a reason to play a cardinal here, so he returns as a c*cksucking hitchhiker instead; and Chris Rock is transformed from the 13th Apostle to Chaka, the racially enraged director of Bluntman and Chronic. For the seriously devoted with a good amount of patience, Alanis Morissette even makes a brief cameo as God.

One of the most clever things about Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back is how it blurs the line between reality and movie-reality, taking playful jabs at itself in the process. A prime example of this is Ben Affleck, who plays both his character from Chasing Amy and himself. In one of the highlight moments, Ben Affleck the actor argues with Matt Damon the actor during the shooting of the Good Will Hunting sequel, with the two trading insults over their stinker films. Affleck attacks Damon for making The Talented Mr. Ripley, and Damon retaliates with Reindeer Games, until finally they're cursing their appearances in Dogma. As Kevin Smith's films (and the fictional Good Will Hunting 2 in particular) have demonstrated, Affleck has a remarkable affinity for goofball comedy that has never really been exploited thanks to stuff like Bounce and Pearl Harbor.

Jay's infatuation with Shannon Elizabeth's character also plays tricks with reality when Jay meets Jason Biggs and rants about "that exchange chick" from American Pie. Playing themselves, Biggs and James Van Der Beek fall into the Affleck/Damon pattern of bickering, with Biggs lamenting that he will forever be known as "the guy who f*cked the pie."

Jason Lee makes a very welcomed, but unfortunately brief, appearance, reprising his roles as both Brodie Bruce and Banky Edwards.

Eliza Dushku, Ali Larter, Jennifer Schwalbach, and the aforementioned Shannon Elizabeth add sauce to the movie as a leather-clad girl gang that flirts with lesbianism. Shannon Elizabeth easily stands out the most, as she has a surprisingly significant role--she's the closest the film has to a leading lady, and proves that a hot chick is always hot, even when you slap a pair of Urkel glasses on her. However, her relationship with Jay is one of the weaker links in the film, reducing our favorite womanizer to more of a nice guy than should be expected. Perhaps it's a symptom of making him the star character, or maybe it's a moot observation, what with this being the last silver screen outing of Jay and Silent Bob--but either way, it guts the character.

As a fan, my biggest complaint was that too much screentime was wasted on new characters not all that interesting rather than giving it to some of the established classics. I would have rather seen more of Dante and Randal's idle banter instead of Will Ferrell as an incompetent federal wildlife marshall who Barney Fifes his way through the better half of the movie. (Incidentally, when did Randal become such a narc?) I could have also done without the wuss played by Seann William Scott and the security guard played by Diedrich Bader. But not all the new characters are a waste--Mark Hamill as "Cock-Knocker" is an inspired piece of outrageous parody.

For neophytes of the Jay and Silent Bob legacy, the movie will probably make as much sense as this review. While Jay and Silent Bob graciously spares us heavy-handed speeches on existence, relationships, and religion, it is not the most accessible entrance into Kevin Smith's pantheon of films. One should watch at least two of his previous works as a prep course in Jay and Lunchbox. Trust me--it will let you enjoy this hilarious movie all the more, and allow you to fully appreciate the comedic brilliance!


Rating: 8 out of 10 (0=Abysmal, 5=Average, 10=Excellent)

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