Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot.
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Directors and actors all the time talk about making movies for their fans. Just last November, Adam Sandler gave Little Nicky a speech impediment because he claimed “that’s what the fans wanted.” Well, Sandler obviously doesn’t know his fans the way Kevin Smith does. Smith’s films have integrated a variety of characters and language into the psyche of a cult universe that holds them close to the heart that knows all the connections and a scene-by-scene analysis. Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back is like a great big thank you to those of us who have followed his career since his original low-budget classic, Clerks.
Smith has always committed himself not only to his film projects, but also to delivering all the extra goodies associated with the video releases. Going back even to the days of laserdiscs and spilling into a current crop of DVD special editions, Smith and his assorted cohorts have taken to recording audio commentaries, delivering tons of deleted footage and unabashedly showing his audience how much fun they are having. Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back is like one of those commentaries made into a movie.
Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith) are known in the “View Askewniverse” as the foul-mouthed insensitive drug dealer and his quiet “hetero lifemate” who stand in front of the Quik Stop day-in and day-out. In “Chasing Amy”, they became the inspiration of a comic book series called Bluntman & Chronic, created by Holden McNeil (Ben Affleck) and Banky Edwards (Jason Lee). Now, thanks to information obtained from Holden and Brodie Bruce (a “Mallrats” character, again played by Lee), they’ve discovered that a Bluntman movie is days away from production. So it’s off to Hollywood, not to collect deserved royalty checks, but to shut up the anonymous internet geeks badmouthing them about not deserving their own movie.
Thus begins what is arguably the weakest section of the film, the beginning of a road trip that contains the large portion of the flat jokes found in the trailer. Along the way they hitch a ride with a van full of beauties (Eliza Dushku, Shannon Elizabeth, Ali Larter and Smith’s wife, Jennifer Schwalbach) on the way to a jewel heist disguised as an Animal Rights protest. This amusing mission not only brings the ending to “Mallrats” full circle, but is also significant as to give Jay his first love interest in Justice (Elizabeth). It furthermore tags Jay & Bob as criminal masterminds, inciting the Sam Gerard-like obsession of Federal Wildlife Marshall Wilenholly (Will Ferrell) in a subplot reminiscent of the similar adventures of Beavis & Butthead in their first big-screen adventure.
Nothing will prepare Smith cinephiles though (other than actually seeing all of his films) for the third act when they finally reach the film on the set of Miramax studios. Without giving anything away, this is a film buff’s smorgasbord. You have to know stars, directors, their careers and the Miramax catalog like a game of Six Degrees with Kevin Bacon nowhere in sight. If you can avoid any reviews or cast lists that even hint at the arrangement of celebrity cameos on display, your pleasure factor will increase tenfold.
What Smith has accomplished with Strike Back is really quite extraordinary. He’s incorporated the juvenile cartoonish humor in Mallrats that he was so universally criticized for into a Hollywood satire that isn’t dark (The Player) or cutesy (America’s Sweethearts) in nature, but manages to hit every single target with the help of the targets themselves. Smith regulars get to play multiple characters and even themselves as parodies of their star personas. His foreseen “Star Wars” references finally get to put in an appearance in the flesh. All these performances in the movie are spot-on perfect with the exception of Shannon Elizabeth, whose attempts at broad humor are downright embarrassing, especially when matching wits with Mewes and the great Eliza Dushku.
In a time when the term “everyone’s a critic” is demonstrated with a disturbing escalation in gossip outlets, internet websites and newspaper columnists, I actually feel sorry for those “professionals” who can’t find the enjoyment in Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back, mainly because you're likely to catch a beating. On the surface, it looks like a stupid vulgar comedy directed at those who think cinematic genius comes in the form of every “There’s Something About Mary” and “American Pie” ripoff in the last few years. But there’s an inspired lunacy (a.k.a. critic-speak for cleverly stupid) at work here and Smith never tries to force-feed the audience a buffet of spoiled gross-out jokes and holding a contempt for what many films think are the childish sensibilities of its fans. Smith knows his fans are smarter than that and he uses his vulgar jokes as parsley. Laugh, don’t laugh, it doesn’t matter, because there’s so much more to devour on the plate.
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back is like an “R”-rated Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, with a pair of (not-so) innocents traveling cross country encountering a whole world to which they were entirely ignorant to. Those unfamiliar with this world may not take much away from Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back than a string of gay jokes (lighten up GLAAD) and potty humor, but those who do will recognize it as one big inside joke where you’re rewarded in huge laughs if you know the info.
Suitability For Children: Not suitable for Children of any age