It makes sense for the plot of a stoner comedy to get lost somewhere in the middle, right? That’s what happens with Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, which brings us an idea of what our lead characters should be doing, but gives them a lot of diversions that are largely unrelated to this main quest just so that (1) director/writer Kevin Smith can tell more jokes and (2) the film can make it 90 minutes and call itself a feature length film. (It actually ends up being significantly longer than that, but that just further goes to show how far it travels from the main plot.)
The basic idea of the film has the character of the title, Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith) wanting to travel to Hollywood to shut down the production of a movie. Why? Well, it’s going to be based on a comic book that supposedly used their likeness, and instead of taking the money that would come from the production, they want to shut it down so that the people in the internet will stop saying mean things about their fictional characters. Does that make sense? I’m no quite sure it does, but that’s their goal.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Jay and Silent Bob characters, you probably haven’t watched any of the Kevin Smith films that lead up to this one. They appear as pot-smoking slackers who spend a lot of time hanging outside of a convenience store. Jay does almost all of the talking, and if I were to count how many lines of dialogue Silent Bob gets, I could do so on one hand. That’s why he’s called “Silent Bob,” after all. Other characters from other Smith films also appear, but since he uses the same actor in multiple roles in multiple movies, it gets confusing.
Here’s an example. We first see Ben Affleck playing his Chasing Amy character. Affleck also appeared in earlier Smith films like Dogma and Mallrats. Jason Lee appears as Brodie Bruce, his Mallrats character, although also later appears as a different character. Affleck later appears as himself. Chris Rock also has an appearance, although he’s playing a new character instead of the one he was in Dogma. Or maybe I’m starting to get the Kevin Smith universe(s?) mixed up, and they’re not playing who I said at all. Die-hard fans will probably make sense of them all. I wasn’t quite able to.
Let’s get back to the plot. One of the hindrances the stoner duo faces are a bunch of young women who want them to steal a monkey. It ends up being an orangutan, although this is a cover so that the women can steal diamonds in a building right beside where the animals are kept. Another distraction brings an incompetent Federal Wildlife Marshal played by Will Ferrell into the equation, although like most of Ferrell’s roles, I was simply annoyed by his inclusion.
There are a lot of moments when I laughed, like when Jay and Silent Bob are shown the internet by Ben Affleck (or was it his character?). We learn that the internet is a place where people who will never be happy get to whine about things that upset them. I didn’t think I would be able to fully censor the exact phrasing while still getting the point across, but I did it. The point is, their vulgar expressions when they learn that people are talking trash about them online are priceless, especially Bob’s, which remain funny as the film progresses.
Other things to take note of are the parodies. Scooby-Doo gets a chance to be made fun of, as does Hollywood, internet message board posters, Planet of the Apes, homosexuals, heterosexuals, action films, the stoner culture, the human race, Earth itself, and more or less everything that can be fit into the 105 minutes that the film spends insulting everything that exists, and even some things that don’t.
Is this a movie for everyone? The simple truth is that it is not. If you don’t like your jokes laced with certain censorable four-letter words, then you’ll really dislike Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. I’m also not sure how much you’ll enjoy this film if you’re not already enamored with previous Kevin Smith films, considering this one plays out like a long love-letter to them. There are tons of cameos and references that only the Smith faithful will really get, leaving the rest of the audience wondering what they just saw or heard. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it definitely limits your audience.
With that said, I enjoyed Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. It was funny, and that is by far the most important thing to me while watching a comedy. Truthfully, it only had a handful of laugh-out-loud moments for me, but I snickered a few times and came away from it with a grin. Who cares if it’s a self-indulgent, reference-laden, poorly paced film if you’re enjoying it for most of the time it’s playing? That’s how I feel about this one. Deeply flawed, but since I laughed, I can’t not recommend it.
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back is a funny movie that will definitely make Kevin Smith fans laugh. Will it make non-fans laugh? Maybe, but they’ll miss a lot of the fun. Regardless, I had a fun time with it, even if things like pacing and plot were largely ignored so that more jokes could be told and humorous situations could be shown. We want to laugh, and this film delivers, even if it fails in more than one way when looking at it afterward.