JAY AND SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK
Rated R - Running Time: 1:40 - Released 8/24/01
I said in my review of the South Park movie that the humor of that franchise is an acquired taste. Same goes here. Anyone unfamiliar with the streetwise, Gen-X humor of Jay and Silent Bob (the creation of Jersey-born writer/director/comic book store owner Kevin Smith)who as a unit are possibly the biggest in-joke in movies todayor anyone who objects to the frequent use of the word "fuck" and various other obscenities, may find this film offensive, crude, self-indulgent, or just plain not funny. But if you've experienced them before, or if you're willing to subvert your moral indignation and enjoy some truly clever derivative humor, you may love it.
Jay Phat Buds (Jason Mewes), the long-haired, wiseass, street-talking
dude who is always either smoking weed or looking to get laid,
and Silent Bob (Smith), his portly, bearded "hetero life
partner" in the full-length coat who seldom speaks but apparently
follows the same agenda, have appeared in all of Smith's so-called
"Jersey" movies [Clerks (1994), Mallrats
(1995), Chasing Amy (1997), and Dogma
(1999)], but always as side characters who are colorful but incidental
to the plot. In Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back, Smith's
multidirectionally referential adventure about the two friends'
attempt to stop the making of a Hollywood movie about them, they
assume the weighty mantle of leading men; the role is unfamiliar
and uncomfortable, but for the most part they pull it off.
The film, which requires Jay and Silent Bob to leave their
beloved Jersey convenience store and travel across the country
to infiltrate Hollywood, includes an abundance of actors reunited
from Smith's films, like Ben Affleck and Matt Damon (gleefully
lampooning themselves and their movies), Joey Lauren Adams, Jason
Lee, and co-producer Scott Mosier, as well as real-life directors
Wes Craven (Scream) and Gus Van Sant (Good
Will Hunting), among others. As usual, it contains many
of Smith's trademarks, like references to the Star Wars
movies (Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher both cameo), and although
he only has a few onscreen lines, it's clear he was vocally specific
on the set about what he wanted.
After learning from comic book store pal Brodie Bruce (Lee)
that the "Bluntman & Chronic" cartoon series (derived
from them) is being optioned by Miramax, and that there has already
begun a groundswell of Internet-based disapproval from computer
geeks everywhere, Jay and Silent Bob decide they must stop the
production even if it means losing their legal right to a cut
of the profits. They begin the inevitable road trip, during which
they meet four dishy girl jewel thieves led by Shannon Elizabeth.
After a long digression about a diamond heist (in which they end
up caring for a displaced orangutandon't ask), they arrive
in Hollywood and find Chaka (Chris Rock), the comically racist
director of the Bluntman & Chronic movie, and attempt to sabotage
his film. By this time, however, they are on the run from inept
Federal Wildlife Marshal Wilenholly (Will Ferrell), who wants
to prosecute them for stealing the orangutan.
As with many successful comedies, the plot is eminently silly, but it is really secondary. The humor derives from the characters' personalities and dialogue, and from the numerous references to Hollywood movies which Smith has packed into the film. Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back is a great, low-budget effort to poke fun at the movie industry; if not a masterpiece of thespianism, it's at least a fun ride through Smith's quirky mind and the lives of his unique characters. ****