film & game reviews, the retro way.
JAY & SILENT BOB
Harley Quinn Smith
18 years after Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back, Kevin Smith brings the stoner duo back for one more adventure as Jay & Silent Bob Reboot sees the titular characters travel once again to Hollywood, this time to try and stop a reboot of the Bluntman & Chronic franchise from being made.
After stealing the show in Kevin Smith's first film Clerks, Jay and Silent Bob went on to pop up in several other View Askew productions including Mallrats, Chasing Amy and Dogma. Eventually, they got their own feature and it was exactly the kind of fun, very silly, cameo-filled road movie it needed to be. The film didn't take itself seriously for a second and it was all over the place but it worked thanks to a funny script, some well paced direction and a lively supporting cast. Fears that the stoners could only work as characters in small doses were officially dispelled and yet it took almost 20 years for Jay and Silent Bob to come back for a sequel/reboot, despite appearing in Clerks II and being set to return in Smith's Yoga Hosers sequel Moose Jaws.
Jay & Silent Bob Reboot begins with the duo being arrested for growing weed in the old video store next to their beloved Quick Stop before going to trial where they lose the rights to their own names. Upon learning that their comic-book aliases Bluntman & Chronic are about to undergo the movie reboot treatment, they travel to Hollywood, meeting all sorts of colorful characters along the way including a cab driving entrepreneur who cooks tater tots in his car and a teen girl gang. Jay (Jason Mewes) finds out from old flame Justice (Shannon Elizabeth) that he has a daughter, Millennium Faulken (Harley Quinn Smith), and the latter decides to follow Jay and Silent Bob with a group of friends to Chronic Con, despite not knowing about being related to Jay.
A lot has happened both in the "Askewniverse" and Kevin Smith's own career since Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back so this new movie was bound to include even more in-jokes and references. Indeed, everything from Smith's podcasts to his True North trilogy, Jersey Girl and Cop Out gets a mention and the film is packed to the brim with cameos, some of which work, some of which are exhausting. The Ben Affleck appearance is dragged out to include a mini Chasing Amy reunion with Joey Lauren Adams and countless Batman V Superman references when, really, less is more with cameos: the Stan Lee mid-credits one is genuinely sweet, the Chris Hemsworth and Ralph Garman cameos are just right, as is the How High hallucination scene and Jason Lee effortlessly jumps back into his old character as if he'd never even left that comic-book store.
One of the best things about Strike Back was Will Ferrell's bumbling cop and, while Fred Armisen is entertaining enough as the off-beat cab driver, this movie desperately needed a character like Ferrell's to make the film feel more like a mainstream comedy, keeping the laughs coming and the plot moving. As it stands, there's little to hang onto here narrative-wise so you mostly just sit and wait for the next cameo. That said, the real meat of the story, Jay's relationship with his daughter, would have definitely worked if not for how heavy-handed the way in which those scenes are approached with piano music unironically popping up suddenly whenever there's an emotional moment. This feels like a lack of trust in the actors' abilities to pull off those scenes when, in fact, both Jason Mewes and Harley Quinn Smith do a pretty good job overall.
I could go on but, to sum up, I'd say there's a good film in there somewhere. Jay & Silent Bob Reboot had everything it needed to be a worthy sequel to Strike Back but it's way too messy, reference-heavy and oddly paced to quite get there. The jokes are much weaker also, which doesn't help.
The film has its heart in the right place and it means well, never striving for more than a fun ride for those viewers who get all the in-jokes, but there was potential there for a genuinely good, funny comedy and hopefully Kevin Smith can tap into that a lot more next time because, as it stands, fans (such as me) will find a handful of things to enjoy here but, ultimately, it'll still feel like a bit of a disappointment.