Synopsis – Jay and Silent Bob return to Hollywood to stop a reboot of the ‘Bluntman and Chronic’ movie from getting made.
My Take – Let me be honest, yes, I am a Kevin Smith fan. Whether you love him or have no idea who he is, as a filmmaker, actor, comedian, public speaker, comic book writer, author, and podcaster Kevin Smith has had an interesting career to say the least. Ever since his self-financed indie debut, Clerks, released back in 1994, Smith has gained fame for being a pioneer of independent film making and his unconventional techniques of how he mainly edits his own films, casts his friends and family members, and keeps his loyal fan base updated on every project he is working on, his brand and what he loves to do.
But, even as a fan I have to admit, his filmography over the years has been filled with a set of hit or miss. Like for example, for every Clerks (1994) and Chasing Amy (1997) there is a Cop Out (2010) and Yoga Hosers (2016) to negate. Then there are absolute gems that don’t get enough attention like the hysterical Clerks II (2006), and his forte into the horror-genre, Red State (2011) and Tusk (2014), which in my opinion are both criminally underrated.
However, here, he returns to mark the 8th big screen outing for his Jay and Silent Bob characters, the stand out stoner comedic members of his Askewniverse, in their second solo outing following their misadventures in 2001’s Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back. While there’s nothing particularly groundbreaking about this film, by this point, you’re either a fan of Smith‘s sensibility or you aren’t, it delivers on what it promises along with huge laughs.
Yes, it’s hard to imagine this film winning over any new fans, but for those who have enjoyed Smith‘s previous films and the world he has created, there are plenty of rewards in the characters who reappear here. Although it’s targeted largely towards his existing audience, there’s a valiant effort on Smith’s part to parody the Hollywood reboot/remake culture whilst staying true to his own directorial style.
The story follows Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith), who have once again been busted by the police for growing and possessing marijuana in New Jersey. Though, Brandon St. Randy (Justin Long), a lawyer they’ve never met gets their case dismissed, he also makes the pair sign contracts that gave up the rights to their names and their fictional characters, Bluntman and Chronic created by Holden McNeil (Ben Affleck) and Banky Edwards (Jason Lee), to a film studio he represents, thus allowing them to release a reboot called Bluntman V Chronic, directed by Kevin Smith and starring Val Kilmer alongside Melissa Benoist.
Now barred from even using their own names, the two decide to drive to Hollywood once again and prevent the filming of the final scene at the annual fan convention called Chronic-Con, thereby negating the contracts. But when Jay finds out that Justice (Shannon Elizabeth), his ex-girlfriend who is now a local news meteorologist is living in Chicago, they decide to make a stopover, with Jay hoping to reconnect. Upon paying a visit, Jay instead learns that he’s the father of Millennium “Milly” Faulken (Harley Quinn Smith), who has no idea of his existence, and Justice wants to keep it that way.
But things take a turn when Milly forces Jay and Silent Bob to give her and her friends Soapy (Treshelle Edmond), Jihad (Aparna Brielle) and Shan Yu (Alice Wen), a ride to Hollywood in order to attend the same Con where the final scene is being filmed, as Shan Yu is a big fan. Thus beginning a travel across the country and a series of misadventures.
Coming right to the point, yes, this film is almost purely fan service, and will most likely work best for those who already enjoy Kevin Smith‘s films and the View Askewniverse he has created over the course of nearly 30 years. The raw humor, innuendo, weed smoking, self-awareness, and cameo after cameo of celebrities and characters from Smith films past are in abundance. I found this film to be a way for director Smith to come back to the characters and the people that he started his career with, but does the film suffer for it? No, at least not if you are already a fan of his work and his previous films.
If you are not a fan, or have no clue about him, I can understand why you might not enjoy this film. There will still be laughs to be had and a reasonably touching plot to enjoy, but it won’t be on the same level. This film was made for his established audience and no one is pretending that it’s here to win awards or garner new interest.
This is a stoner road comedy, after all, there are a few jokes that fall flat and one in particular that drags a little longer than it needed to be. The jokes at many times do rely on previous knowledge of the franchise, so not all will land for the uninitiated, but as a fan, I was laughing most of my way through the flick.
However, the most interesting aspect of the film, beneath the frenzy of profanity and jokes centered on sex or weed, is the relationship that develops between Jay and Milly, the troubled teen daughter he never knew he had. It’s almost impossible to imagine after seeing him over the course of all previous film that a character like Jay could possibly evolve past the basic two-dimensional parody he was back then, but surprisingly he has. Unlike what he has been accused of, as a filmmaker Smith hasn’t just copied his own formula for the sake of parodying reboot culture, he’s added a sprinkle of heart and, as always, found a way to represent his own experiences on screen in a way that makes us all chuckle and shed a tear.
Tonally, it works towards delving Jay and Silent Bob into a new world of responsibility, and draws attention to itself for what it is, displacing 90s veterans Jay and Silent Bob in a world of touchscreen phones and film reboots. But the film is, refreshingly, about much more than meets the eye.
This is largely due to Jason Mewes, who delivers his best performance to-date. For 25 years, Mewes has been the face of Jay, but here he really proves that he deserves to be. His command on screen continues to be hilarious and hard to ignore. He’s toned it down a little, and this makes all the difference to the maturity of Jay’s arc this time around. His counterpart, Kevin Smith, with a doubt, also manages to sell Silent Bob as well as he always has.
However, the real highlight of the film is Harley Quinn Smith, who has worked with her father a couple times the last few years, manages to steal most scenes she is in with her likeable presence, reasonably good comedic timing and ability to sell the more emotional moments of her character. Her friends played by Treshelle Edmond, Aparna Brielle and Alice Wen are equally great. The celebrity cameos are also great, with the highlights being Ben Affleck, who gets to give an excellent monologue, Matt Damon‘s very silly reappearance as Loki, and Jason Lee, who sets the stage to the plot.
While Brian O’Halloran from Clerks, Joey Lauren Adams, Rosario Dawson, Shannon Elizabeth, Justin Long, Chris Hemsworth, Val Kilmer, Melissa Benoist, Joe Manganiello, Molly Shannon, Frankie Shaw, Jennifer Schwalbach Smith, Craig Robinson, David Dastmalchian, Chris Jericho, Keith Coogan, Adam Brody, Dan Fogler, Method Man, Redman, Robert Kirkman, Kate Micucci, Tommy Chong, Fred Armisen, Jason Biggs and James Van Der Beek leave a mark.
There are also several homages to the late Stan Lee, including a posthumous appearance by the legend himself in a post-credit scene, which is undeniably of the most touching moments of the film. On the whole, ‘Jay and Silent Bob Reboot’ is an enjoyable classic road-trip comedy made solely for Kevin Smith and his Askewniverse fans.
Directed – Kevin Smith
Rated – R
Run Time – 105 minutes