The View Askew universe is apparently calling it quits with Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, a tribute to the only characters that have been in every movie (Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, and Dogma). And what a tribute it is... the movie's cast is amazing.
Out of all of the View Askew characters/actors, Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (director Kevin Smith) are my least favorite. Jay is an obnoxious, hormone-driven drug dealer who's vocabulary basically consists of swear words, and while there really isn't anything wrong with Silent Bob, he does spend all his time with Jay. Of course, they take up ninety percent of the screen time, but it isn't as bad as I was expecting. In fact, writer/director Kevin Smith manages to turn Jay into a partially decent human without really changing the character. On the other end of the spectrum, my favorite View Askew actor, Jason Lee, gets a fairly small part in the movie, and his dialogue is nowhere as witty as in his other movies (Mallrats and Chasing Amy especially).
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back basically follows the duo across the country as they try to stop the movie version of Bluntman and Chronic, a comic book based on their personas, from being made. Along the way they encounter jewel thieves, an idiotic ranger, a romantic interest for Jay, and an orangutan. There are two problems with this: One, the movie is basically a cross-country adventure film similar at least in plot to many, many, many other movies, and is a lot less localized than Smith's best movies, Clerks, Mallrats, and Chasing Amy (Dogma was less centralized and really not as great). Two, since the movie is basically about Jay and Silent Bob's travels, we don't get to see familiar characters as much as we'd like to. I would have liked to see several characters a lot more, and would have been willing to sacrifice some of the stupider scenes like the diamond heist and The Fugitive spoof.
The thing where Jay and Silent Bob Strikes Back really excels is its ability to make fun of its own universe and the actors in it. Ben Affleck especially has a go at himself and his movies, and Kevin Smith throws in several references to his other movies, usually in a comically negative light. Matt Damon has a good scene, as do several actors. And I mean a lot of actors. Half of Hollywood must be in this movie!
Again, I would have liked to have seen more an ensemble cast than an adventure primarily involving Jay and Silent Bob, but I got what I got. Things could have been worse.
The movie is pretty funny, but a lot stupider than Smith's other movies. I never really considered his other movies to have much of a message, but this one definitely doesn't, but it does look like the cast is having fun. Nothing seems as thought out as the other movies did, and the movie does not have a serious theme thrown in anywhere, where the other movies did. In those terms, Jay and Silent Bob is sort of disappointing, but luckily there enough laughs throughout the film to keep my attention. Jay pulls off some pretty good lines and Silent Bob has one really good moment. There are some pretty memorable scenes (and a few not-so-memorable).
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back isn't the best Kevin Smith movie, but still has plenty of comedy and cameos to appease the View Askew fans, not to mention more normal moviegoers. I'd rank it third under Mallrats and Chasing Amy, but it is still a winner.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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