Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back [Blu-Ray]
Director : Kevin Smith
Screenplay : Kevin Smith
MPAA Rating : R
Year of Release : 2001
Stars : Jason Mewes (Jay), Kevin Smith (Silent Bob), Will Ferrell (Federal Wildlife Marshall Wilenholly), Shannon Elizabeth (Justice), Eliza Dushku (Sissy), Ali Larter (Chrissy), Jennifer Schwalbach Smith (Missy), Jason Lee (Banky Edwards / Brodie Bruce), Chris Rock (Director Chaka), Ben Affleck (Holden McNeil / Himself), Judd Nelson (Utah Police Chief), Diedrich Bader (Miramax Security Guard), James Van Der Beek (Himself), Jason Biggs (Himself), Matt Damon (Himself), Seann William Scott (Brent), Mark Hamill (Cock-Knocker), Carrie Fisher (Nun), George Carlin (Hitchhiker)
One of the running gags throughout Kevin Smith’s fifth and (supposedly) final “Jersey” movie, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, is that it is a dumb idea to make a movie centered around Jay and Silent Bob. The whole movie is a kind of outlandish, self-reflexive, self-deprecating in-joke, where Smith allows himself to indulge all of his crudest instincts (read: lots of penis and fart jokes) without any of the redeemable thematic meaning or emotional depth that accompanied his previous two films, Chasing Amy (1997) and Dogma (1999). No, as the title suggests, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back is giddy, goofy, random, crude and rude, and it is often side-splittingly hilarious.
Your enjoyment of the movie will rely heavily on two major factors: First, your affinity for the titular duo, who have appeared in one form or another in all five of Smith’s previous movies, including his first indie effort, Clerks (1994) and his first studio film, Mallrats (1995), which is the movie Jay and Silent Bob most closely resembles in tone. Second, because all of the characters and locations are interrelated with Smith’s earlier work--a warped version of William Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County--a full appreciation of Jay and Silent Bob virtually demands that you have seen his previous four movies. Jay and Silent Bob brings all of Smith’s work full circle, in that it gathers the major characters from all of his movies into one giant spoof that is only really funny if you recognize who they are and what their relationships have been.
The story takes the form of a cross-country journey, as the loud-mouthed, barely repressible Jay (Jason Mewes) and his “hetero life-partner” and comic foil, the portly Silent Bob (Kevin Smith), travel from New Jersey to Hollywood to stop a movie from being made. The movie in question is about their comic-book alter egos, Bluntman and Chronic, who you will remember were the brainchild of Holden McNeil (Ben Affleck) and Banky Edwards (Jason Lee), two of the main characters from Chasing Amy. Jay and Silent Bob don’t like the fact that anonymous movie geeks are posting flames about them on the Internet, and they get the idea that, if they stop the movie, people will stop writing nasty things about them online.
The journey structure is as old as The Cannonball Run (1981)--well, probably older, but we have to stick to a certain cinematic terrain here--and it allows Smith to incorporate all kinds of bizarre subplots. So, for instance, Jay and Silent Bob get caught up with a foursome of hottie jewel thieves (Shannon Elizabeth, Eliza Dushku, Ali Larter, Jennifer Schwalbach Smith) in black patent-leather catsuits. At other points, they find themselves on a bus with the cast of Scooby-Doo, they get stuck with an orangutan, and they are chased by an incompetent Federal Wildlife Marshall played by Will Ferrell, who exercises his perfect blend of outright determination and unacknowledged ineptitude. The tone of the movie is one of slapstick idiocy laced with as many four-letter words as Smith can possible cram in. Certain groups accused the movie of being homophobic, but that’s giving it too much credit. It’s just willfully juvenile.
Movie buffs will get a real kick out of Jay and Silent Bob as Smith mercilessly trashes Hollywood and the shallow culture that surrounds it. Smith, always the perennial outsider, has just enough distance from Hollywood to make some barbed jabs, and he has reason to, as he has run into endless problems with the Hollywood system, from disputes with the MPAA’s ratings board (Clerks), to distributors backing out at the last minute because his work was too controversial (Dogma). Employing a large number of recognizable faces to play themselves (Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, James Van Der Beek, Jason Biggs, and directors Gus Van Sant and Wes Craven, to name a few), Smith spoofs the movie industry as much as he can, although the presence of all these well-known stars almost takes the edge off because, after all, how sharp can the satire be if the butts of the joke are so willing to be involved in it?
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back was obviously a labor of love for Kevin Smith, and it was only at this point in his career that he had earned the credentials to fully indulge in this movie’s puerile, adolescent humor without being forever typecast as a one-note humorist (which is exactly what happened after Mallrats). At the time of its theatrical release, Smith said repeatedly in interviews that it would be the last of his Jersey films and that Jay and Silent Bob would be retired because he had simply grown up (alas, Clerks II proved otherwise five years later). Perhaps that would have been for the best because, even though Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back is a funny and sometimes inventive farce, the shadow of Smith’s true potential is always lingering in the background, reminding you that he’s capable of so much more.
|Jay and Silent Bob Blu-Ray|
|Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back is available either as a separate Blu-Ray (SRP $39.99) or as part of the three-disc “Kevin Smith: 3-Movie Collection” Blu-Ray box set (SRP $89.99), which also includes Clerks (1994) and Chasing Amy (1997).|
|Supplements||Audio commentary by writer/director Kevin Smith, producer Scott Mosier, and actor Jason Mewes|
|SRP||$39.99 (Blu-Ray) / $89.99 (box set)|
|Release Date||November 17, 2009|
|VIDEO & AUDIO|
|As one of Smith’s most recent and highest budgeted films, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back is also one of his better looking films, as least from a technical standpoint (it’s even in the ’Scope aspect ratio!). Presented in a 1080p high-definition transfer, the film looks as good as it ever will, with excellent detail and clarity, great color saturation, natural-looking skin tones, and strong contrast. The uncompressed 5.1-channel surround soundtrack is also excellent, with good depth and clarity throughout.|
|In the supplement department, all we get is the same boisterous and informative audio commentary by writer/director Kevin Smith, producer Scott Mosier, and actor Jason Mewes that was previously available on the 2002 Collector’s Series DVD. It is something of a mystery why all the supplementary materials that were available on the DVD (including storyboards, deleted scenes, trailers, and several featurettes) didn’t make the jump to HD. However, for those who purchase the new 15th anniversary Blu-Ray of Clerks, there is a feature-length documentary about the making of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back included there.|
Copyright ©2009 James Kendrick
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