Friday, July 20, 2007

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back

“A Jay and Silent Bob movie; who would pay to see that?”

After discovering that a movie is being made from the comic book based off their misadventures, Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith) travel cross country to stop the film from being made. Along the way they meet a hitchhiker (George Carlin), a nun (Carrie Fisher), and a lesbian gang of thieves (Shannon Elizabeth, Ali Larter, Eliza Dushku, Jennifer Schwalbach). The girls steal diamonds using the clueless duo of stoners for dupes.

With an orangutan they stole from an animal testing center, Jay and Silent Bob try to make their way to Hollywood staying one-step in front of Federal Wildlife Marshal Willenholly (Will Ferrell) and a host of policemen (including an almost unrecognizable Judd Nelson) who are hot on their trail.

The film brings back several character from the previous View Askew films. From Clerks we get the Quick Stop along with Dante (Brian O’Halloran) and Randal (Jeff Anderson). From Mallrats we get Brodie (Jason Lee) who now owns his own comic book shop (the shop used for the film is Kevin Smith’s own place in Redbank, NJ - Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash). From Chasing Amy we get Holen (Ben Affleck), Spanky (Jason Lee), Alyssa (Joey Lauren Adams), and Hooper (Dwight Ewell).

Although no characters from Dogma make an appearance (except Alanis Morissette‘s cameo at the end of the credits - no rubber poop monsters here), several props do show up including the Buddy Christ and the Mooby’s fast food restaurant. Others like Chris Rock and Shannen Dougherty come back from other pictures, but they playing different roles.

The fast paced movie includes several fun bits like Jay and Silent Bob having a lightsaber fight with Cocknocker (Mark Hamill) in a not-too-subtle, but very fun, Star Wars parody. The other parodies include Planet of the Apes, Scooby Doo, and a humorous peek inside the Miramax backlot where films like Good Will Hunting 2 are shooting (Affleck and Matt Damon play themselves).

The film is full of such scenes as the characters travel across America. Not all the scenes work. The Jason Biggs and James Van Der Beek scene came off a little dated at the time of the film’s opening (and so even more so today). Most of my complaints were small scenes like this, but I felt the main story treads seemed to hold the film together enough to enjoy the story and still progress it to the conclusion.

The only main character that didn’t work for me was Ferrell’s Willenholly who comes off too silly for even this very silly film. His campy scene munching performance really seems to slow the film down and doesn’t quite mesh with the rest of the film’s plot threads.

This “dick and fart joke” movie seems like Kevin Smith responding to his critics who disliked his early work and dismissed it as dialogue heavy, dirty joke, pointless slacker films. They weren’t, but that can be a very valid description of this film.

Not all the humor is easily dismissive crude jokes. I’ll end this section with two of my favorite lines from the film, one of which fits the crude humor stereotype, but the other is actually quite clever - in fact it’s the best description of the Internet I’ve heard to date.

“Yo baby you ever had your asshole licked by a fat man in an overcoat?”

“The Internet is a communication tool used the world over where people can come together to bitch about movies and share pornography with one another.”

This two-disc Dimension Collector’s Series editon contains a commentary track with Smith, Mewes, and Scott Mosier (though sadly none of the other returning cast or newcomers in the supporting cast). The second disc contains deleted scenes with introductions by Smith and various View Askew regulars, a gag reel, TV spots and trailers, a making of the movie featurette, a featurette on dancing with Morrris Day and the Time, the “Becuase I Got High” and “Kick Some Ass” videos, Comedy Central’s “Reel Comedy Special,” cast and crew filmographies, still galleries, and storyboards.

As a stand alone film its hard to judge the film which is really a series of inside jokes and celebration of a cult fandom universe - in fact to get all the references you’ll need to take a peek at the Bluntman and Chronic and Jay and Silent Bob graphic novels in addition to all the films. Is it a great film? No, not really - but there are enough good jokes and fun moments to keep the well paced madcap action going and entertain you. Fans of Smith’s other films will enjoy the View Askew’s self referential jokes and situations and will no doubt enjoy the movie much more than the casual observer.

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