NOW PLAYING: Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back

Posted: Monday, September 24, 2001

If you go by nothing more than pure laugh quantity, then I can say unequivocally that Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back is the funniest movie I have seen all year. It also ranks up there as one of the most cleverly scripted films I've seen in a while. That said, I would definetely have to be very careful who I recommended this movie to.

Usually in my reviews, I put the rating at the bottom, right after the grade. Today I am putting it right up front, in big flashing letters: THIS MOVIE IS RATED R. Despite the funny looking preview with two silly looking guys traipsing across the country with an orangutan in tow, despite the cartoony Star Wars lightsaber duel spoof, and despite the fact that your kids desperately want to see it because "Jay and Silent Bob are the bomb!" this movie should be off-limits to children.

No, there's no nudity, and there's only occasional satirical violence, but the language is, in a word, foul. I mean really, really foul. And, if you can handle it, it's also an integral part of the humor. But I sure wouldn't want to be the guy who sat in the row in front of me with his three kids when his wife hears them quoting the movie. I'm not suggesting that the movie should have had less bad language. On the contrary, I am proud that this movie was able to remain true to it's characters despite being released in an atmosphere that is growing steadily more hostile toward films made for adults.

If you don't know them already, Jay and Silent Bob are staples of the Kevin Smith film universe. They are the two guys who provide slapstick comic relief at various intervals throughout the story and then end up pointing out the moral to the heroes at the end. I'm sure there's some complex greek drama parallel, but I can't think of what it might be. They made their first appearance in a little independent film called Clerks. It was Kevin Smith's first film, made right out of film school, and it proved to be an unexpected smash hit.

Jay and Silent Bob spend their lives hanging around outside of the Quik Stop, selling drugs and picking up chicks. They are the textbook definition of losers, but somehow, as played by Jason Mewes and the director himself, Kevin Smith, the characters have a kind of perverted innocence that doesn't allow you to hate them. Instead, as the series of films progresses (Clerks to Mallrats to Chasing Amy to Dogma) you actually begin to feel protective of them, and to look forward to their appearance. Up until now, their antics were strictly a sideline to the rest of the film. It was a pretty big gamble to allow the degenerate duo to have a whole two hours to themselves, but they proved to be completely up to the task.

After being forced to leave the Quik Stop due to a restraining order, Jay & Silent Bob find out that, much to their surprise, a comic book based on their likenesses, Bluntman & Chronic (casual drug use is another reason to keep the kids away) is going to be made into a movie. When they locate the creator of the original comic in order to "get their #@$!! movie check," they get an even bigger surprise. Bluntman & Chronic has become a major topic of discussion on the internet, and the fans do not have nice things to say. "What the &%$#!! is the internet?" asks Jay in his usual eloquent style. After having internet chat and film buzz expained to him, Jay is infuriated. "How are Silent Bob and I going to get girls to go out with us if there's a chance that they've read something negative about us on the internet?" Of course that's nowhere near what he said, but it's the closest I could get away with; this is a family paper.

Armed with the goal of ending the negative internet buzz, Jay and Silent Bob set out for Hollywood to put the kaibosh on the whole movie project. What follows is about as wacky an adventure as I've seen in a long time, peppered with star cameos. Everyone from Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, to Carrie Fischer and Mark Hamill, from Chris Rock to George Carlin, and of course, all the original stars from all of Kevin Smith's earlier efforts. I won't give the details for the rest of the plot, it's more fun to let it unfold as you go.

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back can be pretty stupid at times. And, it's true, much of the humor is scatological. But, unlike a Farrelly Brothers gross-out fest, Jay & Silent Bob's humor is not intended for shock value. It's just who they are. It's kind of like the difference between the guy you really can't stand to be around because he keeps telling dirty jokes around your mother or your kids or your wife, just to get a reaction, and that friend you really like even though he can't help embarrasing himself and you. Kevin Smith has said that this is the end of Jay and Silent Bob, that he, and they, have to grow up. If that's true, then it makes me a little sad. I think it's healthy for us to be embarrased every once in a while, it keeps us from taking ourselves too seriously. Grade: B+

Jay and Silent Bob is rated R for incredibly bad language and casual drug use.

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