Hey folks, Harry here... I was sitting in line in Austin for a sneak of THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS here in Austin, Texas when my phone rings with an enthusiastic Arizonian Reader that saw JAY & SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK... "It's Kevin Smith's Best Film Ever," he exuded to me... He was going to be writing a review tonight, but I suppose the excitement got to him and he felt tired and will write in tomorrow about it. As it is, we've got two looks (BOTH WITH MORE SPOILERS THAN I CARE FOR) but I can say that it looks like the film will get my New York Kitten purring like the minx that she is... she's no feverdog about Smith films, but a pure Anne Margaret... Kitten with a Whip when it comes to all things Smith... Well babe, read on... unless you want to stay pure.... um, too late... here ya go....
I am Lady-Jaye. I've always wanted to contribute and last night I got something worth contributing . . . I think.
Last night I attended a test screening of a new film. The screening was held at the Harkins Theater in the Arizona Mills Mall. We were not told before hand what movie we would see and I expecting American Pie 2 or Scary Movie 2. Thus I was surprised when they announced that we would be seeing the new Kevin Smith film Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back
Before I begin my review I should say that while I have seen all of Kevin Smith's films I wouldn't call myself a fan. Clerks is an irrefutable classic if only for his best dialogue to date and the lesson in how to turn a low-budget into an advantage. Mallrats was essentially a Savage Steve Holland movie with a dirtier mouth. Chasing Amy, his strongest film to date, managed to cover an impressive amount of philosophical terrain in a relatively short amount of time but revealed his weakness in the dramatic structure department. Dogma was clever and occasionally brilliant but all too often got bogged down by Smith's theological gymnastics. One element common to all of Smith's films that has not worked for me since Clerks is the Jay & Silent Bob bit.
Having said that, Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back (henceforth to be referred to herein as J&SBSB) is . . . well, I found it very entertaining. Why do I hesitate? Because J&SBSB wasn't really made for me. In fact, J&SBSB wasn't made for most people. J&SBSB was made for the Kevin Smith fan. From the appearance of every major Smith character (requiring some doubling up, role-wise) to the slew of Miramax jokes to the attacks on Smith regulars Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, one's enjoyment of the film is completely hinged on a knowledge of Smith's past work.
In a way it's upsetting to see Smith replacing his brilliant pop-culture references with brilliant Kevin Smith references. Were I more cynical person I might even call the film Kevin Smith's tribute to Kevin Smith movies. As I am not, however, a terribly cynical person I applaud Mr. Smith for crafting what may very well be the longest inside joke ever committed to film.
But I am being unfair. The film does have a plot and an agenda beyond glorifying all things Smith. I always feel like plot summaries are rather redundant on a site like this so I'll keep it brief. The movie opens with a Star Wars style opening (no opening crawl, though we were told that the opening and closing credits were only temporary). We are then taken to a very funny "origin scene" involving the first meeting of our title characters (if you've ever tried to teach a toddler to cuss, this scene is for you). We are then transported to the present day and almost immediately treated to appearances by the Clerks themselves (the first of many such cameos and accompanying cheers from the audience). The plot moves quickly through the first 15 minutes of the film. In a nutshell:
Jay & Silent Bob, no longer allowed to hang out around their favorite convenience store, become obsessed with halting production of a movie based on a comic book that is based on them (if that last sentence makes no sense to you whatsoever, you are probably one of the aforementioned non-Kevin Smith fans who should not see this movie). The source of their indignation has nothing to do with the fact that they were not informed that the movie was being made and that they will receive no royalties, but rather that losers on the internet are posting unfavorable comments about their fictional namesakes on www.moviepoopshoot.com as a result of the film. What ensues is a road picture and a parody of the sort of mind-numbing, crowd-pleasing, stomach churning schlock that Hollywood has been throwing at us every Summer since 1975 ˆ barely legal, nymphomaniac diamond thieves, exploding conversion vans, clothed orangutans who hug, kiss, and foil criminal schemes, and so on. The parody is almost too subtle, however (if any film that includes a running gag about a terrorist organization acronymically known as C.L.I.T. may be referred to as subtle) and will leave many audience members wondering which cheesy moments were spoof and which were sincere. The more specific parody doesn't work at all. Such is the case with a stale as yesterday's jelly doughnut Fugitive spoof. (or maybe it was just Will Farrell).
On the other hand, the film's commentary on internet movie web-sites (like the one you're on) and their frequenters (like you & me) is spot-on and hilarious, though such commentary is just as esoteric as the Smith references and will likely induce few laughs from the average moviegoer.
Another item of note is the high production value. Nothing about the look of this movie suggests Kevin Smith and somehow that just seems to be part of the parody.
The much ballyhooed appearances by Carrie Fisher & Mark Hamill are amuzing, though neither is used very well. Appearances by James Vanderbeek, George Carlin, Shannon Doherty, and the kid from American Pie are much better though they are indicative of the films biggest flaw ˆ the Hollywood commentary which comprises the third act isn't nearly as sharp as it could have been. The Hollywood depicted in J&SBSB is nearly identical to that depicted in Pee-Wee's Big Adventure. In that film it worked because it fit in with the rest of Pee Wee's reality. In J&SBSB it seems a little too distant and remote and thus the commentary has little sting to it. There are some priceless moments ˆ Chris Rock as a Spike Lee style angry, black director and Gus Van Sandt with a lap full of money bags spring to mind. But such moments are few and far between. By the way, watch for an appearance by everyone's favorite Man Without Fear.
I may sound critical but the fact remains that I did enjoy the movie -- just not, I suspect, as much as a real fan would. As a casual fan, I hope this will be the last film set in the Clerks universe. In many ways the film suggests that it will be. Personally, I would love to see Smith do something completely different. But that's neither here, nor there. If you're eagerly anticipating the release of this film, I think you will not be disappointed. If you are a casual fan of Kevin Smith it won't hurt. If you couldn't care less, you won't be missing much.
And then if my darling Kitten wants to read more, here's a few tiny spoiler bits, till we get more from Frederick I.B. Green....
It's late I'm about to doze off in front of my keyboard right about now.... Sometime today when I'm awake I will have a extensive review of Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back. Here are some spoilers 4 u. In the order of importance!
1- Jay & Silent Bob get revenge! Bloody revenge on all of their 'net critics'!
2- Cameo apperance of the Mystery Machine and the whole Scooby gang! Jay gives them "Doobie Snacks" and they all clam bake in the van!
3- George Carlin plays a hitchiker who give head for a ride!
4- Way too many Planet Of The Apes refrences.
5- The most important lesson in the movie is: Never talk shit about Morris Day and the TIME!!!
Will have more for you later.
Frederick I.B. Green