The idea of film referencing film is nothing new. I’d guess that almost every film out there has at least some sort of small wink or homage somewhere, even if it’s only the writer or director who picks up on it. Just like in an essay, referencing can make a movie deeper and more convincing. It can also make it feel more contrived. In the case of Kevin Smith’s Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, it’s definitely the latter. Bringing in all of Smith’s New Jersey-set films up to that point, Jay and Silent Bob is the epitome of self indulgence. Sometimes self indulgence can work, but this movie hurts the lasting legacy of Smith and the characters he created. That being said, it is fun to watch Ben Affleck make fun of himself.
According to the sign on the local Quick Stop convenience store, the narrative of Jay and Silent Bob starts out on the same day as Clerks. This instantly places it in familiar territory for Smith’s fans. There’s a barrage of references and nudges as Clerks’ Dante is shown selling some smokes and complaining about how he wasn’t supposed to work that day. Local stoners Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Smith) get word that the Bluntman and Chronic comic that they were the inspiration for is being turned into a movie. The duo set out for the great American road trip to stop the making of the movie because they see that some folks on Internet message boards aren’t very happy. This is where you scratch your head and go but this is a movie about Jay and Silent Bob. It’s so obvious that it doesn’t even approach irony.
I get it. It’s the point. But the execution is just so full of itself that it’s boring and not funny often enough. More effort seems to be spent trying to get Smith’s View Askew characters onto the screen than in building a story. For example, way too much time was on Jay and Silent Bob hitching a ride from a group of animal liberation vixens. There’s banter and scheming but all that really comes of this massive chunk of time is a pet and a love interest. Given some restraint, this half-hour could have been cut by two-thirds and still stayed true to the indulgence.
Like the idea of throwing things against the wall and seeing what sticks, there’s enough going on that there is the occasional moment where I cracked a smile. Ben Affleck really is a funny guy – especially when he’s poking fun at Ben Affleck. By this time he was a character in the media and he’s a smart guy. He openly recognizes it. There’s one scene where he and Matt Damon are going off on each other’s careers and making fun of the choices they made. But there’s some scary truths in what they’re saying, particularly about the idea of bouncing from a bad film with a paycheck to something thoughtful. Except I think the winks and nudges meant that this might have supposed to have been the thoughtful choice. Or the favor for a friend movie.
Jay and Silent Bob went from becoming secondary figures to pop culture icons to the stars of their own films. Yet, they’re really a one gag duo. Jay is crude, Silent Bob is quiet, except when there’s a need to be profound and he musters up the courage to open his mouth with a heaping piece of wisdom. Using a Star Wars analogy, something that’s right up Smith’s alley, Jay and Silent Bob are like Boba Fett. Everybody loves them. But at the same time they’re best served in their supporting roles. They’re coolness comes from being around in small doses. This builds a mystery about them. If a Boba Fett movie came along, he’d no longer be hip. He’d be a part of the system. Likewise, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back strips the mystery and intrigue away, leaving the characters and, ultimately, Smith’s universe, hurt in the long-run.
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back Blu-ray Review
The Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back Blu-ray has the film showcased in a strong 1080p high definition (2.35:1 aspect ratio) picture. Audio is in uncompressed English 5.1 as well as in English and French 5.1 Dolby Digital. The film includes a lively commentary track from Kevin Smith, Scott Mosier and Jason Mewes. There’s also some called Movie Showcase, which is really just a glorified scene selection tool that jumps directly to the movie’s effects-driven scenes (it’s meant to show off the beauty of Blu-ray).
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back Gallery