Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back [retro review]

“Applesauce, bitch!”

The Scoop: 2001 R, directed by Kevin Smith and starring Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Shannon Elizabeth, and Will Ferrell

Tagline: Hollywood had it coming.

Summary Capsule: Two stoners battle Hollywood.

Justin’s Rating: The Final Hurrah

Justin’s Review: There are two things to discuss when reviewing Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back: the movie itself, and everything surrounding the film. I shall endevour, with the aid of my pink bunny slippers, to do both.

In the fifth and final film of the so-called “Jersey Trilogy”, Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith) take center stage in the bizarro world where they were the fool king and queen (and don’t ask me which one was which). The foul-mouthed boy child Jay and his cartoonish quiet sidekick Bob discover that the comic book made from their likenesses (first seen in Chasing Amy) is being made into a movie, and they’re not getting a cut of that sweet, sweet cash. After a bit of tooling around on familiar New Jersey turf, they’re off on the road trip of their lives (yes, even greater than meeting up with some angels and a naked apostle). Destination: Hollywood.

The commercials and press might have you believe that JSBSB is mainly a Hollywood spoof, somewhat in the same vein as Scream 3 or The Player, but the Hollywood stuff really just factors in at the last half hour or so. The rest is a wild and quite unbelievable (but totally watchable) episodic cross country journey. I was a bit apprehensive about the duo leaving their New Jersey soil (a problem I had with Dogma), but this is really about them bringing New Jersey’s tough, no-nonsense, constantly depressed lifestyle to greater America. For the first time, Jay and Silent Bob are no longer supporting characters, but instead carry the feature solely on their shoulders (which makes it ironic how past films’ main characters are supporting cast here). Can they carry a butt-load of comedy on their shoulders? Definitely, although the better the other cast members in any given scene, the better they come across as well. You can only have so much of Jay’s f-bomb vocabulary and Silent Bob’s exaggerated facial gestures without some help from outside. Some bit parts were brilliant, such as Will Ferrell’s clueless cop or the return of former Clerks bad boy Randal (I’ve always felt he deserved his own feature movie). Some are rather lackluster, and I regretted that Eliza Dishku–great in bad girl roles but also funny–is just a snarling wench without flexing any serious acting muscles here.

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back has elaborate comedic setups; these are tempting for any big budget comedy director, but they fall way short of smaller, punchy jokes (one extended joke about an acronym involving the female body was taken about ten pages too far). It has sight gags. It has dozens of in-jokes that only other View Askew fans will get. It has dozens of other pop culture gags that anyone should get (including the most freaky vision of Scooby Doo to date). It has pratfalls and naughty language used to shock and giggle. It’s got the film industry making fun of itself, and fun of internet nerds and (cough) film critics. It’s so packed of jokes, in fact, that I was really surprised that there were a few scenes that managed to coast through with a complete lack of comedy… it just seemed surreal compared to everything else.

But the bottom line of this or any comedy is the question: Funny or Not Funny? I can say with assurance that it’s definitely the former. JSBSB appeals to so many of the things I find hilarious, but it still has that edginess that might drive people away just like the first four films.

What is NOT funny? Chris Rock. This is a man who operates under the assumption that louder is better, and there is nothing funnier than a black man making constant racial jokes (to the point of being *every* line of his dialogue). It’s a credit to the film that his brash bellowing didn’t take too much from the end of the flick.

JSBSB can boldly say that it’s a film like no other, in that it cross-references every other movie in the Kevin Smith universe, and unabashedly makes these references for the fans that have been with the Askew flicks since 1994. It’s the biggest, boldest, most SFX-laden Smith film so far — and also the last of the New Jersey trilogy. As I said to my friend when I left the theater, “It’s the end of an era.” Dante and Randal, 37, dating lesbians, chatting with God, beating up the Easter Bunny, comic books, Star Wars bashing/adulation, sex and candy. All over. But instead of some sappy series finale on TV, where every character pulls the stops to make you all weepy and nostalgic, Jay & Silent Bob gives us a party where all — and I mean ALL — of our old friends are invited. I don’t think anyone, myself included, considers the Jersey Trilogy some sort of Holy Grail, perfect and unblemished. They’re not great epics of Western civilization, but they ARE important, relevant and as fun as conquering the entire world in Risk and gloating to your friends for days after that they owe you, the Royal Master of the Universe, much tribute and bowing and scraping.

It’s also really interesting to see this film, out of all of Kevin Smith’s projects to date, being treated as any other blockbuster. From Clerks to Dogma, his films have popped in and out of the theaters faster than most people were able to process; I only caught Dogma in the theater myself, the rest on rental. All of them have been controversial in some respect (language, sexual conundrums, theology). From a bunch of unknown college students in Clerks to the nearly unlimited celebrity cameos in JSBSB (of which Ben Affleck and Matt Damon take top honors), they’ve somehow dug under the skin of pop culture to make a cozy nest. So it’s incredibly strange to see the series end on such a high and popular note when it began as a crude black and white feature made by college students and loved by few. Sayonara Jay and Silent Bob.

PoolMan’s Rating: Yep, it’s sure over.

PoolMan’s Review: I saw a funny outtake from a Blackadder movie the other night (and if you’re not familiar with Blackadder, you should be). In comes Baldrick with a wig, fake boobs, and a repulsive vinyl outfit. As the audience’s laughter dies down, Edmund Blackadder asks Baldrick for an explanation, and is offered a choice between a long and short answer. Edmund selects the short. Baldrick says simply “Whim”. Edmund grudgingly asks for the long version. Baldrick says “It was a whim.”

Jay and Silent Bob get their own entire movie. The king of all Kevin Smith’s whims.

I know Kevin Smith is far from infallible, but even still, the guy’s a genius. Some of his stuff is responsible for about 42% of the idle chatter in the world today. Heck, when I sign my emails, I’m frequently tempted to throw a “snoogins” in there somewhere. I can’t say I know why. But like his movies or not, the guy’s got a gift for dialog that deals with the strangest of subjects, makes it funny, yet (for the most part) doesn’t sound contrived. That’s a rare thing in an industry which has rewarded Arnold Schwarzenegger so bountifully for uttering the words “I’ll be back”.

But for all his smart dialog and his gift of writing everyday situations to be funny, he’s got this habit of adding characters into the mix that just ruin everything for me. Silent Bob? Love the guy. Jay? Burn him at the stake. Imagine my delight to learn of a movie starring (primarily) just these two guys, and the only one who gets any lines is the guy who can’t stop talking (and miming) about oral sex, drugs, and how unbelievably great he is. Jay’s character has just never appealed to me, except to work as a foil to Silent Bob’s awesome mugging and shrugging. I love Silent Bob, and Jay is what makes him work. But I hate Jay. Again, imagine my delight.

But aside from dealing with the Clown Prince of Potheads, there was a glimmer of what made Smith’s movies so cool in the first place throughout JSBSB. Whether it was Dante’s frustrated “I’m not even supposed to be here today!” dragged out for one last chuckle, or the repeated heavy blows Ben Affleck allowed himself to take, there’s a bunch of stuff that you can laugh at and genuinely enjoy. (I still can’t believe the stuff Affleck agreed to at his own expense… jokes about being a filler actor, jokes about dead prostitutes regularly found in his trailer, jokes about how you sometimes do movies just because you owe somebody a favour… he slagged his own name quite heavily, and it was fun to watch.) But then you get tied up in plotlines that feature Will Ferrell in his record-breaking ONE MILLIONTH ROLE as an absolute moron in a position of power, and you wonder why these guys keep getting written in.

I enjoyed every time the characters looked knowingly into cameras. I liked being bashed as one of the very internet movie critics that get Jay so stirred up in the first place. I loved all the little “Hollywood insider” gags that were layered on so thick you couldn’t cut ‘em with a chain saw. But then the oral sex jokes fly (“…and the Oscar for Least Useful Cameo Which Should Have Been Left On The Cutting Room Floor goes to… GEORGE CARLIN!!!”), and ambling, stupid storylines take their toll. The jokes are there, the plot is not. After the well structured Dogma and the emotional Chasing Amy, this felt like Smith was taking one step forward and two steps back, relying way to much on what made Mallrats “funny” (and I’ve never been big on Mallrats).

Turning what should be a five minute skit into a feature length movie is something Saturday Night Live‘s people have been doing for years, and most people seem to agree they should stop trying. Unfortunately, Kevin Smith didn’t do any better here with Jay and Silent Bob’s feature length expansion, and I’m forced to be sad to see the final chapter come to a close. Not because the series is over, but because this is where the View Askewniverse is leaving off, and it’s not the high note I was hoping for.

Canuck Alert! Although not Canadian himself, Kevin Smith got his start with the Vancouver Film School.

Andie’s Rating: Inside jokes rule!!!!!

Andie’s Review: I absolutely love the fact that this movie is only a little funny to people who have never seen any other Kevin Smith movies. I went to see this in the theater with a group of people, about half of whom had seen Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy and Dogma, and it was so fun that a couple guys and I got to laugh our asses off and the other people with us just got to look confused. Then a joke would pop up that would be funny to anybody and they’d all laugh really hard and we’d just laugh a little because it wasn’t as funny as the “inside jokes.” Hee hee, it’s the simple pleasures in life.

So as far as movies go, “stupid” humor is not really my cup of coffee. It tends to annoy me. I did not like Dumb and Dumber and I only sort of liked Dude, Where’s My Car? But as annoying as Jay can get sometimes, I really laughed a lot at JSBSB. I thought it was fantastic that they got almost everybody from their first four movies to make an appearance. I am totally smitten with Jason Lee, but I like Brodie better than Banky. I also particularly liked the people who played themselves, like Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, and Jason Biggs and James Van Der Beek. Those scenes cracked me up to no end.

However, Jay can become too raunchy for my taste and I really dislike Shannon Elizabeth. She is quite possibly the most annoying actress in Hollywood today. Her eyes kind of bug out and she can’t act her way out of a paper bag and that accent! In American Pie 1 and 2! It was the most grating voice ever! And girls that skinny never have boobs that big. Anyway, that is an entirely different review…..

There are many great, intelligent, wonderful jokes in this movie, including the drug dealers being in a union and getting medical coverage, the Scooby Doo parody, the Scream cameo/send-up, and I particularly enjoyed Silent Bob finally screaming at Jay. That was long overdue. I also thought it was hilarious the way Silent Bob sneaks into the lab, which is a great homage to John Belushi sneaking in to the Dean’s office in Animal House. (Didja catch that?) I also love how they break the fourth wall all the time by talking to the audience, that is great.

So the plot is a little weak and sometimes the movie is way too gross, but it really is a fitting cap to the Jersey “Trilogy.” I recommend seeing the other four first, it will be SO much funnier that way. I also recommend the DVD because I still haven’t gotten through all the deleted scenes, there are a ton. There is also an outtake reel of Judd Nelson as the Sheriff that is a crack-up and a half! So go check out JSBSB.

The Mutant Reviewers from Hell? Sweet!

Intermission!

  • The “View Askew” logo is placed where “Star Wars” typically would be
  • Excellent Planet of the Apes spoof
  • Check out the cameos by Wes Craven (Scream) and Gus Van Sant (Good Will Hunting)!
  • Celebrating 37 successful heists
  • After the credits, a clip of a story-book with “The End” written in it is closed by God (Alanis Morissette).
  • Like Smith’s other films, this one closes with a snippet of Jay’s dialogue.
  • Instead of “Jay and Silent Bob Will Return In…”, it now reads, “Jay and Silent Bob have left the building.”
  • Good Will Hunting 2: Hunting Season
  • Baby Silent Bob is played by Harley Quinn Smith, Kevin Smith’s real life daughter
  • One of the female diamond thieves is played by Smith’s real life wife
  • Malcom Ingram is credited as a “Mewes Wrangler” (for Jason Mewes, the guy playing Jay).  Ingram is a close friend of Kevin Smith.
  • Despite getting nearly every View Askew actor back for this movie, Jeremy London (TS, a major character from Mallrats) was reportedly not interested in reprising his role.
  • View Askew bad boy Rick Derris as the policeman that arrests Jay and Silent Bob
  • Anyone remember the monkey? You should… Jay and Silent Bob were seen walking down the road with it, hand-in-hand, at the conclusion of Mallrats.

Groovy Quotes

Jay: What the f*** is the internet?
Holden: The internet is a communications tool, used the world over, where people can come together to bitch about movies and share pornography with each other.

Ben Affleck: Applesauce, bitch!

Holden: I don’t think I’m alone in the world, in imagining this flick is a worse idea than Greedo shooting first.

[to Dante]
Customer: Are you even supposed to be here today?

Jay: Miramax? I thought they only made classy pictures like The Piano or The Crying Game.
Brodie: Yea well, once they made She’s All That, everything went to hell.

Holden: This is a site populated by militant movie buffs. Sad, pathetic little bastards living in their parents basement, downloading scripts and what they think is inside information about movies and actors they claim to despise, yet can’t stop discussing.

Silent Bob: THE SIGN, ON THE BACK OF THE CAR, SAID “CRITTERS OF HOLLYWOOD”, YOU DUMB F***!

Matt Damon: Just take it from ‘It’s a good course.’
Ben Affleck: What, you’re the director now?
Matt: Hey shove it, Bounce-boy. Let’s remember who talked who into doing this stuff in the first place. I mean, talking me into Dogma was one thing-
Ben: Look, I’m sorry I dragged you away from whatever gay-serial-killers-who-ride-horses-and-like-to-play-golf-touchy-feely picture you were going to do this week.
Matt: I take it you haven’t seen Forces of Nature?
Ben: You’re like a child–what do I keep telling you? You gotta do the safe picture, then you do the art picture. Then sometimes you gotta do the payback picture ’cause your friend says you owe him. Then sometimes you gotta go back to the well.
Matt: And then sometimes you do Reindeer Games.
Ben: See, that’s just mean.

Guy: Don’t say anything. [to Bob] Especially you.
Jay: That’s pretty funny.

Jay: Holy #$%@, you’re the Dawson!
James Van Der Beek: James, actually. James Van Der Beek.
Jay: What’s up with Pacey stealin’ Joey away from you? If I was you I would’ve drowned his ass in the Creek.
James Van Der Beek: You actually watch that show?

James Van Der Beek: Biggs, did you even read the script?
Jason Biggs: There’s a script?
James Van Der Beek: Man, you wouldn’t last a day on the Creek.

Choca: Then I go to my trailer ’cause I got more white girls in there than the first lifeboat on the Titanic!

Justice: You’re no match for my Shaolin Monk.
Sissy: Yeah, but I’ll bury you with me Crouching Tiger.
Justice: A little Venus Flytrap?
Sissy: I’ll counter with Dragon Queen.
Justice: How ’bout a little Bitch My Man Ain’t Your Baby’s Daddy?

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6 Comments

  1. Pingback: Chasing Amy [retro review] « Mutant Reviewers From Hell

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