It is clear within a few minutes of watching “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back” that it is director Kevin Smith”s attempt to give his most well-known characters a last hurrah. Or perhaps it is just to purge them from his system the way that smokers chain smoke a whole pack to quit. Being the fifth movie featuring Jay, the shit-talking, catchphrase spawning drug dealer, and his “hetero life-mate” Silent Bob, the duo is finally given the lead roles, where they are thrust into an action filled plot filled with chases, sharp dialogue and even a chance to get the girl.
Jay and Silent Bob discover that the superhero comic “Bluntman and Chronic,” which is based on their real lives, is to become a major motion picture, and they are not receiving royalties. What”s worse, the Internet buzz is strongly negative and personally critical of Jay and Silent Bob, the alter egos of the superheros. So instead of seeking the profits that they are owed, they decide that the best way to even things up is to keep the movie from ever being shot. A seemingly simple task becomes an international manhunt as Jay and Silent Bob are caught up in more than just the simple trashing of a movie set.
There are a few things that one must come to terms with before seeing the film. First of all, the whole point of the movie is to have fun. Chock full of references to the other films in the increasingly inaccurately named “New Jersey Trilogy,” the film is meant for the fans. Without detailed knowledge of “Clerks,” “Mallrats,” “Chasing Amy” and “Dogma,” the movie would seem like one big inside joke, which, in a way, sort of is. Smith seems to go by the wisdom of a line from “Chasing Amy:” “The big money is in dick and fart jokes,” and apparently he”s right, for the film is ripe with deliciously puerile humor, most of which is on target.
The movie features characters from all of Smith”s earlier films, making it a sort of Vonnegut-esque “Breakfast of Champions” for gross out comedy, which, once again, could make it painfully confusing for the uninitiated. With multiple appearances by both characters from the films and real life actors playing themselves, our universe and the so-called “viewaskuniverse” of Smith”s movies collide with highly enjoyable results. With self deprecating humor from Ben Affleck on everything from his flop movies to his tendency to leave dead hookers in his trailer, the film has a atmosphere that is rare. A small role by “Saturday Night Live” star Will Ferrell as a Federal Wildlife Marshall adds some true comic genius to an already clever cast.
The film”s action sequences are, for the most part, lame, but this is only a mild distraction from the positive aspects of the film. However, some of the final scenes, which take place on a Miramax movie set, are more entertaining and have more flow. (Imagine it as if “Jay and Silent Bob” were somehow transplanted into “Pee-Wee”s Big Adventure.”)
“Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back” is basically a crack on the entire movie industry, from the incessant and uninformed buzz on the Internet by the nation”s twelve-year-old”s and comic book store owners to the exploitation and corruption of fresh material by studios (both personal issues for Smith). This film contains no lofty ideas about sexuality as in “Chasing Amy,” nor does it raise any controversial questions about theology as in “Dogma,” but it is pure fun, and the constant collusion with the audience by the characters and the complete lack of serious material in any way, shape or form is just what both we and Smith needed to get Jay and Silent Bob out of our system. However, just as the smoker craves his fix even after kicking the habit, Kevin Smith may find himself reaching for his black trench coat and View Askew address book sooner than he thinks.