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JAY AND SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars:  Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Ben Affleck, Shannon Elizabeth, Will Ferrell, Jason Lee, Chris Rock
Director:  Kevin Smith
Audio:  Dolby Digital 5.1
Video:  Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio:  Dimension
Features:  See Review
Length:  104 Minutes
Release Date:  February 26, 2002

“Miramax optioned the rights to Bluntman and Chronic.”

“Miramax?  I thought they only made classy movies, like The Piano or The Crying Game!”

“Well, after they made She’s All That, everything went to hell.”

Film ***1/2

Kevin Smith owed his fans a love letter.  Jay and Silent Bob Strikes Back is it.

Very few artists other than Smith would take his biggest budget to date…a whopping $20 million…and roll out a film that probably wouldn’t mean much to those who haven’t seen his first four films.  If you’re one of those who hasn’t, I can’t speak for you…I have  seen them all, and this, the fifth and final entry in his so-called New Jersey Trilogy, is just about the best treat a View Askew fan could ask for.

In one sentence, it’s a side-splitting, breath-inhibiting, tear-jearking, rib-aching, bladder control-losing, snort-producing roller coaster of laughs that proceeds from start to finish with an almost manic energy, unapologetic political incorrectness, an everything-is-fair-game attitude, with more inside jokes than a solo session of Dennis Miller standing in front of his bathroom mirror.

It’s supposed to be the grand finale for those two lovable stoners turned pop icons, Jay (Mewes) and Silent Bob (Smith himself).  They were the sidekicks in Clerks, living Warner Bros. cartoons in Mallrats, the conscience of Chasing Amy and the prophets of Dogma.  But for their fifth film, the screen is all theirs.

As fans will recall, Jay and Silent Bob were the inspiration behind the comic book creation Bluntman and Chronic, authored by friends Banky (Lee) and Holden (Affleck) (see:  Chasing Amy).  Now, the dumbfounded duo are about to become a movie, which has started up a plethora of hate-talk about the real Jay and Silent Bob on the internet.  Determined to save their good (?) names, the hetero life mates start the long journey west to Hollywood, with the intents of sabotaging the film!

I would like to say more, but to do so would ruin the fun.  Suffice to say, there are misadventures along the way, plenty of surprise appearances from View Askew’s past and other places, spoofs of everything from Charlie’s Angels to Planet of the Apes, and more…all told with Smith’s acute and rapid-fire wit.

The script is pure hijinks from start to finish, but equally noteworthy is the fact that Kevin Smith has never been in better form as a director.  Nervous about a $7 million budget for his second film Mallrats, he shows all the confidence of an established artist here, putting three times that money to much better use, and proving that he can be as adept with his camera as he can with a typewriter.

Now that I’ve praised Smith as writer and director, I’d also like to add that he must be one hell of a guy to have as a best friend as well.  I came to that conclusion watching some of the scenes he constructed for Jason Mewes with lovely Shannon Elizabeth…snootchie bootchies, indeed!

So what will the film mean to someone unversed in the View Askew vernacular?  Probably not as much.  Personally, I’d hate to have to watch it with a novice, and spend half my time explaining who these people are and why certain things are funny…though the commentary track might serve as a nice introduction to the characters and background stories.

So, consider this review for fellow fans.  Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back may be the most laughs you can get for your DVD dollar.  Snoogams.

Video ****

Dimension has produced an absolutely flawless and stunning anamorphic transfer for this film.  I saw it in the theatre on opening day, and I can say fearlessly that it looks even better on disc than it did on film.  This is a colorful operation from start to finish, with a wide palate of tones and hues, and each comes across with full integrity…no distortion or bleeding.  Images are sharp and detailed throughout, even in long focus scenes, and lines and colors render crisply and perfectly in ever level of lighting.  Kevin Smith has come a long way as a technical filmmaker, and this disc is a testament to that fact.

Audio ****

Equally impressive is the so called “special DVD mix” in 5.1 sound…this is a lively, dynamic soundtrack from start to finish, making repeated and impressive use of both front and rear stages and even keeping the .1 channel busy…this is a comedy disc with an action movie soundtrack.   No noise, noise, noise here…reference quality all the way.

Features ****

A double disc set for Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back?  HELL yeah!  Disc One features some sneak peeks (wow), plus a terrific, funny and almost painfully detailed commentary track with Kevin Smith, Jason Mewes, and Scott Mosier.  You want to know who every person who strolls across the scenes is, even in the backgrounds?  You’ll find out…but seriously, folks, this is an entertaining listen, and one of the best View Askew commentaries since Chasing Amy.

Disc Two is the stash…there is a short production featurette and a better and longer offering from Comedy Central’s Reel Comedy…between the two, there is plenty of behind the scenes footage and cast and crew interviews.  Don’t watch them before you see the movie, though, or some of the surprise appearances will be given away!  There is also a grand total of…ready?  42 deleted scenes featuring intros by Kevin Smith and some of his comrades.  Some of them are quite funny!  

In addition, there’s “The Secret Stash”, featuring some extra bits of footage (and also with intros), two internet trailers (the first one is classic), several TV spots, music videos for the now classic “I Got High” by Afroman and “Kick Some Ass” by Stroke 9, a gag reel (appropriately titled “Why Movies Cost So Much”), talent files, a stills gallery, storyboards, DVD Rom extras, and a couple of extra features highlighting a famous group whose name I don’t wish to divulge…it was a great surprise for me when I saw the movie the first time, and I don’t want to take that pleasure away from anyone else!

All in all, it’s about three hours worth of terrific bonus material…awesome!

Summary:

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back is reportedly the duo’s last hurrah…if it is, they’re going out in style.  Kevin Smith takes his beloved loser sidekicks on a tour of the View Askew universe and everything that’s pop culture as they create mayhem and madness as they roll from coast to coast in a joyful jokefest.  This one goes out from Smith to the fans…you know who you are, Nugganootch!