×

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back

Kevin Smith's venerable supporting characters, Jay and Silent Bob, get their own starring vehicle with the curiously titled "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back", and the results are -- to borrow Smith's description of these characters from a scene in "Dogma" -- about as compelling as a "Star Wars" movie devoted to Han Solo and Chewbacca.

With:
Holden/Himself - Ben Affleck Randal - Jeff Anderson Security Guard - Diedrich Bader Sissy - Eliza Dushku Justice - Shannon Elizabeth Willenholly - Will Ferrell Cocknocker - Mark Hammill Chrissy - Ali Larter Brodie/Banky - Jason Lee Jay - Jason Mewes Dante - Brian Chritsopher O'Halloran Chaka - Chris Rock Brent - Seann William Scott Silent Bob - Kevin Smith

Kevin Smith’s venerable supporting characters, Jay and Silent Bob (played, respectively, by Jason Mewes and Smith), get their own wafer-thin starring vehicle with the curiously titled “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back” (against what? the audience?), and the results are — to borrow Smith’s own description of these characters from a scene in “Dogma” — about as compelling as a “Star Wars” movie devoted to Han Solo and Chewbacca. A little of Jay and Silent Bob goes a long way, but it’s tough to imagine any characters weathering this torrent of bad movie parodies, incestuous Miramax references and self-congratulatory insider humor so limp as to make “The Anniversary Party” seem biting by comparison. This reps at least as much of an artistic setback for Smith as “Chasing Amy” and “Dogma” were advances. After a respectable opening fueled by helmer’s devotees, auds should be paltry, with overseas prospects even dimmer.

Like the other films in Smith’s unofficial series of “New Jersey Chronicles,” “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back” is set in a continuous universe, with the characters and settings from “Clerks,” “Mallrats,” “Chasing Amy” and “Dogma” roaming in and out of the action to a greater extent than Smith has allowed before. Pic opens on a clever bit in which we see our titular heroes as infants, parked in their carriages outside of a New Jersey convenience store, which is subsequently revealed to be the Quik Mart location from “Clerks,” where the characters were first introduced almost a decade ago. Back in the present, the duo is informed by their pal Brodie (Jason Lee, reprising his “Mallrats” character) that their comic book alter egos, Bluntman and Chronic, are about to be the subject of a big-budget Hollywood action movie.

After verifying this with “Bluntman” co-creator Holden (Ben Affleck, in his “Chasing Amy” role) and reading some hurtful gossip on a movie Web site (called Movie Poop Shoot, but designed to look exactly like Ain’t It Cool News), they set off on a cross-country hitchhike to California, where they plan to sabotage the production or, at least, get in on the action.

With this set-up in place, pic turns from narrative to slapdash sketch comedy and broad parodies of big Hollywood movies: Jay and Silent Bob receive instruction in “The Book of the Road” from fellow hitcher George Carlin, before ill-advisedly trying out their newfound expertise on nun Carrie Fisher (one of a string of “Star Wars” references); they get picked up in the Mystery Machine by the characters from “Scooby Doo” (a parody of a movie that hasn’t even come out yet); and they find themselves the unwitting pawns of a quartet of jewel thief femmes fatales (Shannon Elizabeth, Eliza Dushku, Ali Larter and Jennifer Schwalbach). Since “Clerks,” Smith’s films have been fitted with raw, taboo-bursting dialogue and a sneakily subversive wit that deconstructed a number of Hollywood genres. But this time out, Smith has targeted something — movie franchises and the studios that produce them — that is already highly self-parodical. The result is the first Smith movie that wears its subversiveness on its sleeve — it’s as though Smith has suddenly lost all faith in the intelligence of his audience.

That early-on Ain’t It Cool News sendup really informs of pic’s tone, pitched somewhere, uncomfortably, between parody and self-parody. And when Smith trots out his many Zucker brothers-style movie lampoons (“Charlie’s Angels,” “Planet of the Apes” and “The X-Files” are among the many targets), you’re not sure if his intentions are genuine, or if he’s actually referencing the fatigue of such gags, even in his own film.The mishmash irrevocably worsens once Jay and Bob are turned loose inside “Miramax Studios” (actually the CBS Radford lot in North Hollywood, where the movie-within-the-movie from “Scream 3” was also set), and their odyssey transforms into a phantasmagorical orgy of masturbatory Miramax in-jokes and contract-player cameos.

Wes Craven and Gus Van Sant appear, busily directing fictitious sequels to “Scream” and the Smith-produced “Good Will Hunting,” while Matt Damon and the “real” Ben Affleck kid each other about Affleck’s appearances in such “bad” Miramax productions as “Reindeer Games” and “Phantoms.” This is all supposed to be enormously clever and funny, because Miramax has produced all of Smith’s post-“Clerks” features (including this one) and — oh my — he’s biting the hand that feeds him.

But Harvey and Bob don’t need to run for those rabies shots just yet: Smith has scraped all the poison from the tips of his comic darts long before the cameras have even rolled, so that even his potentially best gags are more self-indulgent than scabrous. “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back” has the lazy, bric-a-brac atmosphere of one of those blown-off movies made during down time on some bigger affair. But with its high-end production values and handsome widescreen lensing, it’s second only to “Dogma” as Smith’s biggest physical production to date, which makes its squandered potential all the more troubling. In fact, it’s easy to see pic as exactly the kind of “sell-out” movie that Smith is trying to satirize in this garage-sale spectacle that sullies the raucous innocence of his earlier work.

Popular on Variety

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back

Production: A Dimension Films release of a View Askew production. Produced by Scott Mosier. Executive producers, Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein, Jonathan Gordon. Co-producer, Laura Greenlee. Directed, written by Kevin Smith.

Crew: Camera (Deluxe color, Super 35 widescreen), Jamie Anderson; editors, Smith, Scott Mosier; music, James L. Venable; production designer, Robert "Ratface" Holtzman; art director, Elise Viola; set decorators, Jeffrey Macintyre, Doug Mowat; costume designer, Isis Mussenden; sound (Dolby/Dolby Digital/DTS/SDDS), Whit Norris; supervising sound editor, Phil Benson; visual effects supervisor, Joseph Grossberg; assistant director, Timothy Bird; casting, Christine Sheaks. Reviewed at the Avco Cinema, L.A., Aug. 16, 2001. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 104 MIN.

With: Holden/Himself - Ben Affleck Randal - Jeff Anderson Security Guard - Diedrich Bader Sissy - Eliza Dushku Justice - Shannon Elizabeth Willenholly - Will Ferrell Cocknocker - Mark Hammill Chrissy - Ali Larter Brodie/Banky - Jason Lee Jay - Jason Mewes Dante - Brian Chritsopher O'Halloran Chaka - Chris Rock Brent - Seann William Scott Silent Bob - Kevin SmithWith: Joey Lauren Adams, Jules Asner, Jason Biggs, Marc Blucas, George Carlin, Wes Craven, Matt Damon, Morris Day and the Time, Shannen Doherty, Carrie Fisher, Jamie Kennedy, Steve Kmetko, Alanis Morissette, Tracy Morgan, Judd Nelson, Jennifer Schwalbach, Jon Stewart, James Van Der Beek, Gus Van Sant.

More Film

  • Suro

    Lastor, ‘The Endless Trench’s’ Irusoin, Malmo Team for Mikel Gurrea’s ‘Suro’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    SAN SEBASTIAN – Barcelona-based Lastor Media and Malmo Pictures have teamed with San Sebastian’s Irusoin to produce “Suro” (The Cork), the feature debut of Mikel Gurrea and a product of San Sebastian’s Ikusmira Berriak program. The film stars Laia Costa, who broke through with Sebastian Schipper’s “Victoria” and also serves as executive producer, and Pol López [...]

  • Ane

    Madrid’s ECAM Incubator Develops Terrorism Drama 'Ane'

    SAN SEBASTIAN — For the second year in a row, the ECAM Madrid Film School has paired a number of up-and-coming filmmakers with various industry veterans for an Incubator program part of the school broader development arm called The Screen. For its initial edition in 2018, this Incubator selected five feature projects, putting the selected [...]

  • Roma Cinematography

    'Mission: Impossible - Fallout' and 'Roma' Win LMGI Awards for Motion Pictures

    Two major 2018 releases – actioner “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” and critics’ darling “Roma” – were honored for film location work by the Location Managers Guild International at a ceremony this evening at the Eli & Edythe Broad Stage in Santa Monica. The 6th Annual LMGI Awards also recognized “Chernobyl” and “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” [...]

  • Soho House

    Soho House Lands In Downtown Los Angeles

    Warner Music, Spotify and Lyft are poised to welcome a new neighbor to downtown Los Angeles’ Arts District with Soho Warehouse, the third California outpost of the Hollywood-loved members-only club — and the largest North American opening to date. Hot on the heels of the Soho House Hong Kong debut earlier this summer, the private [...]

  • Born to Be Live: 'Easy Rider'

    Born to Be Live: 'Easy Rider' Gets a Concert/Screening Premiere at Radio City

    In a year full of major 50th anniversary commemorations — from Woodstock to the moon landing — why not one for “Easy Rider,” Dennis Hopper’s hippie-biker flick that was released on July 14, 1969? That was the idea when a rep for Peter Fonda, who starred in the film as the laid-back Captain America, reached out [...]

  • Costa Gavras

    Costa-Gavras and Cast on Nationality, Identity, and Cinema

    SAN SEBASTIAN  —  Though he’s been based in Paris since 1955 and came up through the French film industry, director Costa-Gavras has never forgotten his roots. “Those who are born Greek,” said the Peloponnese-born filmmaker at a Saturday press conference,  “stay Greek all their lives.” The once-and-always Greek was not just in San Sebastian to [...]

  • Lorene Scafaria, Jennifer Lopez. Lorene Scafaria,

    'Hustlers' Director Lorene Scafaria: 'We Wanted to Treat It Like a Sports Movie'

    The star-studded cast of “Hustlers” didn’t just become strippers in the empowering female-helmed blockbuster — they also became athletes. When speaking to “The Big Ticket,” Variety and iHeart’s movie podcast, at the Toronto Film Festival earlier this month, “Hustlers” director Lorene Scafaria explained the extreme athleticism required of the movie’s leading actresses, who all had [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content