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'Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back'

Stoner glory: 'Jay and Silent Bob' take a wickedly funny road trip

Friday, August 24, 2001

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

WARNING: If constant profanity, including repetitive use of the f-word, bothers you; if sex talk and the pantomiming of sex acts bother you; if the use of names of women's private parts for comedic effect bothers you; you will not like this movie.

Just needed to get that major caveat up front. Ignore the stars rating. Don't consider seeing "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" and then writing a letter complaining about how offended you are. You've been warned.

 
    Movie Review

'JAY AND SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK'

RATING: R for nonstop crude sexual humor, pervasive strong language and drug content

STARRING: Kevin Smith, Jason Mewes, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon

DIRECTOR: Kevin Smith

CRITIC'S CALL:

 
 

Now that that's out of the way ... "Jay and Silent Bob" rules!

Appreciation of this latest film in writer/director Kevin Smith's oeuvre depends largely on having seen his past films: "Clerks," "Mall Rats" and "Chasing Amy" (not so much "Dogma"). Anyone with a decent memory of those flicks will be justly rewarded with "Jay and Silent Bob," Smith's most consistently funny film since "Clerks."

Filled with in-jokes, cameo appearances by stars of Smith's past films and pop culture references galore ("Star Wars," "Planet of the Apes," "The Fugitive," etc.), "Jay and Silent Bob" will mean more to die-hard fans. I can already imagine the term papers it will inspire among film students.

For those unaware, Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Smith) are pot-smoking, vulgarity-spewing slackers -- well, Jay is; Bob's mostly mute -- who hang out in front of a New Jersey convenience store. In past adventures, they've tangled with the store's clerks and were the inspiration for the comic book "Bluntman and Chronic," which is now being made into a movie.

Jay and Silent Bob are upset by this when they learn Internet fanboys are talking trash about Bluntman and Chronic, criticism they take personally.

"That's what the 'Net is for, slandering others anonymously," comic book artist Banky (Jason Lee) explains.

Jay and Silent Bob will have none of that. They set out for California -- hitchhiking, of course -- with plans to stop the movie so Internet geeks will shut up.

Along the way, they encounter Holden McNeil (Ben Affleck) from "Chasing Amy," live action replicas of famous cartoon characters and a band of beautiful jewel thieves. Jay gets a crush on sweet thief Justice (Shannon Elizabeth), and Silent Bob befriends an orangutan.

Smith, who wrote and directed "Jay and Silent Bob," stages a series of set pieces pasted onto a road trip plot out of "The Muppet Movie." The pace only lags during an overly long jewel heist scene and reaches an enjoyably loopy climax as Jay and Silent Bob roam the Miramax Films backlot.

It's in these scenes that the celebrity cameos come fast and furious. Affleck (doing double duty as Holden and himself) and Matt Damon are incredibly good sports, allowing many jokes to be made at their expense. They make fun of each other's film choices while preparing to shoot a scene from the mercifully fictitious "Good Will Hunting 2: Hunting Season."

"Jay and Silent Bob" is filthy, but knowingly so. As much as it indulges in adolescent humor, it shows how stupid it is (rather than asking for a good-luck kiss, Jay asks Justice for oral sex).

Filmmaker Smith was censured by a gay and lesbian anti-defamation organization for gay jokes that punctuate the film, but the jokes are all about Jay's own insecurity and have little to do with disparaging gays. Everyone's a target in this politically incorrect universe, from a militant black film director (Chris Rock) to the lead stoner duo themselves.

"Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" clearly panders to an Internet-surfing, comic book-collecting, sci-fi loving subculture that can still find humor in jokes about flatulence. As a reflection/parody of that niche culture, it's just about pitch perfect.

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