JAY AND SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK * * ½
2001 – USA Director: Kevin Smith Starring: Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Shannon Elizabeth, Ben Affleck, Will Ferrell
Reviewed by Frankie Paiva
There's an unwritten screenwriting rule that you should never write about your own life because people aren't interested. Luckily, Cameron Crowe completely ignored this idea. Unfortunately, Kevin Smith did not. `Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back' is the world's biggest in-joke, a culmination to Smith's last four pictures, `Clerks', `Mallrats', `Chasing Amy', and `Dogma'. It is a satire that constantly winks at the audience, but leaves it's funniest moments to subtlety The film doesn't work on an intelligent level unless you've seen the above four films, and know all about Kevin Smith's battles (bumping heads with `Magnolia' director Paul Thomas Anderson, ABC airing his TV show only for legal reasons) as an independent filmmaker. It's a pretty big assumption that we want to get involved with his ego, but Smith takes us there anyway. It makes for sheer brilliance hiding under a whole lot of mediocrity.
The plot, so to speak, follows Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob's (Smith) road trip from Jersey to Hollywood. They're trying to stop Hollywood from making a movie for which they are obviously the source material. (If that isn't irony, what is?) Along the way, they get involved with some very attractive `animal activists' who aren't who they appear to be, Jay falls in love, and joints are passed.
A wide variety of celebrities make cameo appearances in the film, mostly spoofing themselves. Carrie Fisher, George Carlin, Jason Biggs, Shannon Doherty, Chris Rock, Matt Damon, and James Van Der Beek are just a few of the many surprises. Ben Affleck (looking quite dazed), Shannon Elizabeth, and Will Ferrell are all effective in small roles.
One must really wonder what type of audience Smith was trying to reach with this film. There's no future for this production as a film, since the references are far too current to last more than a year or two, and the stupid humor wasn't appealing because the film has a bitter core. The film is largely a cleverly disguised tirade about the studio system. It hits many things on the mark, but there isn't the same endearing quality that `Dude, Where's My Car?' or `American Pie' have. We simply don't care about the characters.
Sadly, the film aims its crosshairs on places other than Hollywood. A large majority of the humor is homophobic, and would be quite degrading and offensive to anyone with an open mind, Smith's usual crowd. Whether the jokes are meant to be taken seriously (as religious groups joke the jokes in `Dogma'), is in question, but there's just too much negative material to ignore. Then there's the humor that's just plain stupid, overdone, and unfunny.
But for all the bad jokes, there are some great ones. I laughed uncontrollably around ten times, mostly at places where the rest of the audience didn't.
When Silent Bob finally talks in the second half of the movie, the audience at my screening cheered. It was a Marcel Marceau in `Silent Movie' for the generation of 2001.
Smith can do better. Don't see the movie if you don't know all about him, or don't see many movies. You'll just be presented with some rather vulgar humor, and there are better movies for that. For those more film-inclined, it's an exclusive party, but a lame one at that.
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