Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back
Directed by Kevin Smith
Review by Matt Heffernan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sometimes the MPAA rating explanation is better than a tagline. The explanation for Fight Club told more about the film and what it had to offer than anything the marketing department could devise. Now, Kevin Smith's latest film promises "nonstop crude and sexual humor, pervasive strong language, and drug content." Sounds like a good time to me.
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back is the fifth and supposedly the last film of Smith's "Jersey" series, which all contain the characters of Jay the pot dealer (Jason Mewes) and his companion Silent Bob (played by the director). Picking up from the third film, Chasing Amy, there is a popular comic book based on Jay and Silent Bob called Bluntman and Chronic, which is now being made into a film. Instead of claiming their rightful take of the money, they decide to go to Hollywood to stop production, ceasing further embarrassment of the real duo.
The bulk of the film is a road movie, showing how they get from Red Bank, NJ, all the way to Hollywood by hitchhiking. One of their rides is a van full of women jewel thieves posing as animal rights activists. Jay falls in love with Justice (Shannon Elizabeth), the innocent one, but he and Silent Bob are duped into freeing lab animals while the girls steal diamonds. While the police investigate the latter crime, it is the duty of Federal Wildlife Marshall Wilenholly (Will Ferrell) to hunt down our heroes.
Along the way there are many, many other characters, including several from Smith's previous films (for example, Jason Lee plays his characters from both Mallrats and Chasing Amy). The scope of the film makes Dogma look like Clerks, to stay within Smith's oeuvre. Most importantly, though, this film is funny -- much funnier than Smith's other films and any other film that has come out this year. The crude humor is nonstop, but it is executed masterfully. It's the kind of film that many other contemporary comedies try to be, but fail because they are too concentrated on just being gross, outrageous, or just plain stupid.
In addition to the strong material, this film also shows Smith developing as a filmmaker. His shots are becoming more fluid, and he's learned to use editing to tell jokes instead of just fixing the camera on somebody telling a joke. He's done nothing short of becoming a complete filmmaker, which will be useful now that he's abandoning Jay and Silent Bob, and the whole View Askewniverse, as he calls the world of these five films.
What's probably even more remarkable than Smith's growth is Jason Mewes' emergence as an unlikely leading man. Certainly the role isn't much of a stretch, but he does carry the film quite competently. I hope this won't be the end of his career (his chances of getting typecast are unfortunately high), but if it is, he has at least seen this character, and all the others, off in a proper fashion.
For more information, go to the Internet Movie Database:
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001)
Video Pick of the Week
Guide to Star Ratings
Review © 2001 Matt Heffernan