Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back
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Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back

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As a long time movie enthusiast I have always enjoyed a film with some good inside jokes about other films, a film where the director goes beyond homage to the realm of satire. Writer/Director Kevin Smith has provided fans with the penultimate inside joke film, Jay and Silent Bob Strikes Back. This film is the continuation of the ‘Jersey series that started with Clerks, extended through Mallrats and Chasing Amy and on to Dogma. To fully appreciate Strikes Back you really have to be familiar with the previous four films as well as the usual suspects of film classics. The story opens with pot deals Jay (Jason Mewes) and his partner Silent Bob (Kevin Smith) getting kicked off their usual spot in front of a quick stop and video store by Clerks alumni Dante (Brian O'Halloran) and Randal (Jeff Anderson). They go to a comic book store owned by their friend Brody (Jason Lee) and find out a comic based on them was sold to Miramax and was being made into a film. The visit the writer of the comic, Holden (Ben Affleck) sold his part of the rights to his partner Banky (also Jason Lee). Going on the Internet they find that filming starts in three days. Rather that seek the huge ‘movie check’ they are due Jay and Silent Bob seek to stop the buzz on the net against them by stopping the film. Okay, the plot is thin. This film is not about the story but is completely about the jokes. On their way to Hollywood Jay and Silent Bob wind up with a female gang of Jewel thieves wonderfully played by Shannon Elizabeth, Ali Larter, Eliza Dushku and the wife of Kevin Smith, Jennifer Schwalbach Smith. Yes, this film is very much a family affair with their friends, and even the child of Kevin and Jennifer making cameo appearances. The girl gang dupes the demented duo (not a difficult job) into stealing an ape to cover their heist with an animal rights protest. What ensues is a combination road film and chase movie that will keep you laughing throughout. This is not rocket science. The jokes are rude, crude and completely socially unacceptable. Typical of Smith’s films this movie is entirely politically incorrect and jabs almost every group in our society. With all the films around that require thought every so often is is okay to submit to a puerile guilty pleasure like this and kick back Just disconnect your higher thought processes before inserting the DVD.

In the previous four films by Smith, Jay and Silent Bob were nothing more than bit players. They became a cult hit and this movie is the final installment in the View Askew Universe that contains this motley crew. Anyone that ever appeared in one of these films is in here. All your favorites are back for one last time. Jason Mewes is not a great actor. He is a stoner type that seems unaware of what is really going on. Here Mewes provides the comic timing necessary to pull off the many crude jokes and sight gags. Although Silent Bob lives up to his name, virtually no lines in this or any other film, Smith takes no prisoners as he makes fun of everything around him. He even bites the hands that feed the film with jabs against Miramx. There is one exchange where Jay wonders why Miramax would do a film about two superheroes that use pot. "Do they do high class films like the Piano and the Crying Game?" the answer is swiftly returned "Once they did Bring it On it as all over". The number of cameos is incredibly large. There are spots with directors Gus Van Sant (counting his money ignoring the film he is directing) and Wes Craven directing Scream 4. Mark Hamil appears in a light saber fight with Jay. Ben Afleck and Matt Damon appear as themselves in a parody of ‘Good Will Hunting 2: Hunting Season". There is even a scene where the boys are picked up by a green van with a bunch of odd teens and a talking dog. Of course Jay offers them ‘Dubie Snacks’. Don’t blink or you will miss something.

The directorial style of Kevin Smith has grown since he released Clerks. He has more control of the way a scene is presented. While this is normally a good thing it comes here with a price, a loss of the ‘cinema verita’ feeling that really made Clerks the classic that it has become. As a director Smith peaked with ‘Chasing Amy’. There he laid out a story in such a manner that the audience was drawn into the story. Here in Jay and Silent Bob the audience still mesmerized but it is for the crude laughs that come at you with the rapidity of a machine gun. Now don’t get me wrong, the juvenile humor works here as a wonderful means of escape from all the serious issues we have to face lately. The point here is Smith is capable of presenting deeper content and still get the laughs. Consider the loose plot Smith does an admirable job in keeping the movie moving and fresh. What comes across here is a man that grew up loving film and now he has a change to poke fun and pay homage to his favorites. I greatly enjoy a good ‘inside Hollywood’ joke and this film has them back-to-back. Smith uses the commentary to give a lot of credit to the people that put so much effort into the film. The Director of Photography, Set Design etc., all get a loving nod from this director. It is a refreshing change from all the commentaries that sink into a narcissistic rambling. Smith knows how to set up a scene. He framing and lighting of each scene is perfect. He chose actors that he was familiar with and it shows in the chemistry that results.

The two-disc set is something that will provide hours of enjoyment. Disc one has the film in Dolby 5.1 audio with 1.85:1 anamorphic video. The rear speakers are a bit under utilized and provide little more than a few interesting effects and ambience. The sub woofer booms out with the soundtrack more than any effects, save an explosion or two. The commentary track rambles a bit and it sounds like Jason Mewes nods off for most of it. The second disc offers 42 deleted scenes with introduction by Smith and crew. Many show just what the MPAA objected to giving a nice view into the working of this organization. Need a laugh? Want to forget the world awhile? Get this DVD.

Posted 3/23/02

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