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Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back

Starring: Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith
Director: Kevin Smith
Rated: R
RunTime: 95 Minutes
Release Date: August 2001
Genre: Comedy

*Also starring: James Van Der Beek, Carrie Fisher, Dwight Ewell, Jennifer Schwalbach, Ben Affleck, Jason Biggs, George Carlin, Shannen Doherty

Review by Edward Johnson-Ott
2½ stars out of 4

"Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" is a raucous road comedy that operates on three levels. Aficionados of crude humor will howl at the obscenity-laden dialogue and raunchy sight gags. Film buffs will get dizzy keeping up with the references, re-creations and parodies of movies and rips at movie stars. And faithful followers of writer/director/actor Kevin Smith's View-Askew Universe will be in hog heaven, as virtually everyone from Smith's first four movies pops up to say "Hello."

For those of you who haven't seen "Clerks, "Mallrats," "Chasing Amy" and "Dogma," I'll try to give you a proper set-up (please bear in mind that I am far from an expert for more information, visit Introduced to audiences in "Clerks," Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Smith) have appeared in every Smith film, as well as numerous comic books and a short-lived animated TV series. They even did a walk-on in "Scream 3." Normally, the boys hang out in front of a New Jersey convenience store, where Jay sells marijuana and yaps incessantly, fixating on women and sex. Jay is an insult machine, with his laid-back "hetero lifemate" Silent Bob the frequent recipient of jabs attacking his weight and questioning his sexual orientation.

Jay and Silent Bob are also underground legends. In "Chasing Amy" we learned that Holden McNeil (Ben Affleck, who also appears in "J&SBSB" as himself) and Banky Edwards (Jason Lee, who also appears here briefly as "Mallrats" veteran Brodie Bruce) created a highly successful superhero comic book series, "Bluntman and Chronic," based on Jay and Silent Bob. When the two artists parted company, Holden gave the characters to Banky, who struck a lucrative deal with a Hollywood studio, which brings us to the beginning of "J&SBSB."

Are you still with me? If not, study the previous two paragraphs before you see the film. Or just settle back and let the movie flow over you.

Spoiler Alert: The following reveals numerous plot points. I suggest you read them, because knowing the plot will help you keep up with the jokes.

As "J&SBSB" opens, Jay and Silent Bob find their lives turned upside down when a restraining order bars them from holding court in front of their beloved convenience store. To make matters worse, they learn that strangers are mocking them online. Holden gives the boys (whose world is so small that they don't know what the Internet is) a crash course in Cyber Film Geekdom 101, showing them an "Ain't It Cool News" type Web site and one of its bile-filled message boards. Taking the fanboy attacks on Bluntman and Chronic personally, they decide to go after Banky, who never got permission to use their personas in the film. Jay and Silent Bob will travel to Hollywood and stop production of the Bluntman and Chronic movie, by any means necessary.

Along the way, they will meet a stranger (George Carlin) who teaches them hitchhiker sexual etiquette, and the "Scooby Doo" gang, who teach them about teamwork. Jay will fall in love with the beguiling Justice (Shannon Elizabeth). Her "Charlie's Angels" style friends Sissy (Eliza Dushku), Chrissy (Ali Larter), and Missy (Jennifer Schwalbach, Smith's wife), key figures in the militant animal rights group CLIT, will mock the boys, even as they agree to participate in a raid on a product testing lab. About a million clit jokes will be made as Federal Wildlife Marshal Willenholly (Will Ferrell) pursues Jay, Silent Bob and their new monkey friend across America.

In Hollywood, they will break onto a movie studio lot and watch Ben Affleck and Matt Damon rehearse for "Good Will Hunting 2: Hunting Season." Affleck and Damon will squabble with each other, taking shots at each others movies; six ("Bounce, "The Talented Mr. Ripley," "All the Pretty Horses," "The Legend of Bagger Vance," "Forces of Nature" and "Reindeer Games") in less than 20 seconds! Mark Hamill will turn up for a light saber battle and a paranoid director (Chris Rock) will rant about racism. Finally, Jay and Silent Bob will face the big screen versions of Bluntman and Chronic, played by James Van Der Beek and Jason Biggs, prompting some juicy "Dawson's Creek" and "American Pie" jokes.

You will either find the whole affair hopelessly juvenile and indulgent or you will laugh and laugh (how much depends on your knowledge of movies in general and the Smith oeuvre in particular). If you belong to GLAAD, you will hold a press conference and announce that the barrage of gay jokes proves that the film is homophobic, completely missing the point of Smith's ongoing exploration of the sexual insecurity that prompts adolescent males (of all ages) to make such jokes. If you are me, you will decide that, despite some dull spots and a few parodies that are just too easy, "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" is wicked fun and another feather in the cap of Kevin Smith.

Copyright 2001 Edward Johnson-Ott

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