Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back

As funny as Jay and Silent Bob Strikes Back is, the fact that it requires a small syllabus of films to view before screening hampers its accessibility to general audiences. The latest film from writer/director Kevin Smith is first and foremost for fans of his previous four films. Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, and Dogma are all extremely funny, highly verbose films with high cult audiences. Characters from all four of these films appear in Jay and Silent Bob, and to confuse things further, Smith enjoys using the same actors for different films, so some actors will appear as different people in this movie. Oh yeah, and watch Star Wars before stepping into the theater. Slacker stoners Jay (Jason Mewes, Dogma, Scream 3) and Silent Bob (Smith) are striking back at Hollywood, which is making a movie of Bluntman and the Chronic, a comic book based on their personas. They decide to make the trip from New Jersey to Hollywood in order to get the royalties for their story.

Along the way is the biggest inside joke of the summer. The more the viewer knows about movies and Hollywood, the more enjoyable the movie is. Smith is an actor's director. He lets actors do what they want, and is able to draw out funny performances. The result is a long list of celebrity cameos including Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Chris Rock, George Carlin, James Van Der Beek, Jon Stewart, Steve Kmetko, Shannen Doherty, Jason Biggs, Alanis Morrisette, Judd Nelson, and many, many more as Jay and Silent Bob make their way across the country in what turns into a conventional road trip movie with one joke; pot. There are even other, more random cameos like Gus Van Sant and Wes Craven (can most people even recognize these guys on sight?). As for the pot jokes, they do get old after a while, but it is a testament to Smith that he can make them last as long as he does.

Jay and Silent Bob hook up with Justice (Shannon Elizabeth, American Pie 2, Tomcats), a jewel thief who tries to recruit the duo to unwittingly help. Jay falls hopelessly in love with her and agrees to everything she asks for. The remainder of the movie unfolds as a series of short vignettes involving one or two celebrities. As with Smith's other films, the fun is in watching what comes out of their mouths. Smith's primary talent is scripting dialogue. His words are raunchy, and cut sharply. At the same time, they are very clever and very dumb. Jay is the motor mouth, lacing his conversation with the f-word and crude yet surprisingly descriptive insults and observations. Silent Bob merely reacts, but watching Smith's facial contortions is very amusing.

The acting is all over the place, but this is exactly how Smith wants things. Some actors are supposed to act badly, either as themselves (many of the stars parody themselves) or as part of their character. As always, Mewes treads a fine line between hilarious and highly annoying. There is just not enough meat in the script to justify an entire movie. As a series of jokes, it works, but the underlying story of going to Hollywood is not cohesive enough. As supporting characters, Jay and Silent Bob add some wonderful crudeness to any movie they are in. They do not have enough character to carry an entire movie. This may explain the plethora of guest stars, or possibly even some of the more pointless plot tactics, like bringing in an orangutan.

Haro Rates It: Not Bad.
1 hour, 44 minutes, Rated R for nonstop crude and sexual humor, pervasive strong language, and drug content.

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