So it’s farewell then, to Kevin Smith’s most enduring creations, Jay andSilent Bob. After making cameo appearances in all of his previous films,they take the starring role in this, Smith’s fifth film.
While Dogma was a perhaps too ambitious attempt to mix serious comment withSmith’s normal quota of dick and fart jokes, Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back isa retreat to pure slapstick. Whether you’ll enjoy this film wholly dependson whether you’re a fan of Smith’s films in general.
The basic plot is, for all intents and purposes, a road movie. The titularstoners discover that a film has been made based on the comic Bluntman &Chronic. If you’ve seen Chasing Amy you’ll know that the characters inthe comic are based on Jay & Silent Bob, and when our two heroes discoverhoards of fanboys calling them names on the internet, they set off from NewJersey to Hollywood to sabotage the film. On the way they run into a gang ofleather clad female jewel thieves, an orang-utan and unwittingly manage topass themselves off as major international terrorists.
If you are a fan, you’ll be like a pig in the proverbial for 104 minutes.Characters from Clerks, Mallrats, and Chasing Amy all show up, with BenAffleck, Jason Lee (playing two characters), and Joey Lauren Adams allreprising their former roles. In fact, this is possibly one of the mostself-referential films ever made – for example two characters walk out ofthe Bluntman & Chronic film commenting “well, that sucked”, “yeah, but itwas better than Mallrats”. This all adds to the film – the cast and crewobviously had an absolute ball making this, and this transfers well to theviewer.
Even if you’re not a fan of Smith’s work, there’s plenty of fun to be hadplaying spot the star cameo. Carrie Fisher, James Van Der Beek, Jason Biggs,Buffy alumni Eliza Dusku and Marc Lucas, Shannon Doherty, Wes Craven, GusVan Sant, Matt Damon, and Mark Hamill (preceded by a rather hilarious “Heykids, it’s Mark Hamill” sign) all make fleeting appearences and sendthemselves up gloriously (“you mean you actually watch that show?” says VanDer Beek disbelievingly when Jay refers to him as “that Dawson kid”). Topmarks go to Ben Affleck though, playing up to his image by having securityremove dead hookers from his trailers.
Of course the level of humour is pretty low, and if scatological humourleaves you cold, then don’t go and see this. The acting can also beself-consciously hammy, with plenty of furious mugging at the camera. It’s ashame, because Chasing Amy proved that Smith can coax absolutely beautifulperformances out of his actors when he’s laying off the toilet humour.
Finally, a quick word about the ridiculous charges of homophobia levelledagainst Smith when this film was released in America. Any homophobiccomments here come from Jay, who is quite obviously latently batting for theother side – a fact highlighted in all of Smith’s previous films. Also, thefact that the character is patently such an idiot would surely stop anyonetaking him seriously.
Now that Smith has finally put Jay & Silent Bob to rest, it’ll be veryinteresting to see where he goes next. The word on the grapevine is that hisnext film Jersey Girl is a move towards the more emotionally involvingwriting he did so well in Chasing Amy. Hopefully this is true, becauseSmith’s fans know he can do so much more than dick and fart jokes. It’s upto him to prove it now.