Mark Reviews Movies


2 Ĺ Stars (out of 4)

Director: Kevin Smith

Cast: Kevin Smith, Jason Mewes, Shannon Elizabeth, Jason Lee, Will Ferrell, Eliza Dushku, Ali Larter, Jennifer Schwalbach Smith

MPAA Rating: R (for nonstop crude and sexual humor, pervasive strong language, and drug content)

Running Time: 1:35

Release Date: 8/24/01

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Review by Mark Dujsik

It is nearly impossible to successfully make an argument against Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. The movie never once takes itself seriously. It is easily in the running for the most tongue-in-cheek movie ever made. At its heart is an inspired send-up of Hollywood, full of great in-jokes and satire. The rest of the movie is a road trip full of hit and miss comedy. And yet this is the kind of movie where when something contrived does happen, a character will say, "That sounds like something out of a bad movie" and look directly into the camera. Can you make a valid argument against such awareness? I would argue that just because you know a situation is contrived does not automatically make it any less so.

Writer/director Kevin Smith sets his movies in a small area in New Jersey where characters from each know about each other, but this is the first time where they all intertwine. Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Smtih) have been loitering around outside the convenience store from Clerks since they were small children. After many threats, Dante Hicks (Brian OíHalloran), an employee of the store, calls the police and gets a restraining order against them. After complaining about it to Brodie Bruce (Jason Lee) from Mallrats, the duo learn that Bluntman and Chronic, the comic book characters based on their personalities, is about to made into a movie. They immediately go to Holden McNeil (Ben Affleck) from Chasing Amy, who helped create the comic, and learn that people on the Internet hate the prospect of a Jay and Silent Bob movie. To avoid the backlash against them, they decide to go to Hollywood and stop the movie.

Those unfamiliar with Smithís previous works will most likely be lost among the sea of characters and references, but fans of the "New Jersey Trilogy" and Dogma are at a decided advantage at getting a lot of the jokes. Once Jay and Bob move out of Jersey, the movie takes on the familiar road movie formula. The characters happen across a character or situation which leads to a punchline. The jokes are mostly toilet or sex humor, but the movie has already established that people criticize the characters for such short range. So does this cancel out the possibility of criticizing the humor? Not really. What really makes a lot of this material work is the relationship between Jay and Bob. They are classic comedic archetypesóthe joker and the straight-man. Jay is inherently obnoxious and offensive, but Bob cancels it out with his reactions to him.

The cast is obviously having a lot of fun here. Lee plays not only Brodie but also Banky Edwards from Chasing Amy. Affleck is also on double duty, and later in the movie he and Matt Damon mock themselves in the funniest sequence involving the shooting of the sequel to Good Will Hunting. There are a lot of cameos, and it would be unfair to reveal them. New additions to the cast include Will Ferrell as the obviously inept Federal Wildlife Marshall on Jay and Bobís trail and Shannon Elizabeth, Ali Larter, and Eliza Dushku as a group of diamond thieves masquerading as animal rights activists.

For all of its laughs and self-awareness, the script is still unfortunately contrived. The subplot involving the diamond thieves brings the movie to a dead stop, and thatís not the only instance. There is a reliance on jokes about homosexuals here that starts to quickly wear out its welcome. It definitely keeps with the crude tone of the movie, and there is only one instance where it is mean (Ferrellís characterís comments about a put-on partnership between the two heroes). But when a good majority of the humor is derived from one subject, it grows tiresome. Thatís a truth in all comedy. The movie eventually mocks the obsession with the subject, but itís too little too late. Even during the movieís best section (the invasion of Miramax studios), there is an appearance by Chris Rock who rants and stops the movie once again.

But even with these major flaws, the movie is still funnier and smarter than a lot of other comedies. Itís not afraid to take targets, and the people being mocked are good sports. Iím really on the fence with this one, but I cannot give it a solid recommendation based solely on the fact that it loses its momentum far too often than it should.

Copyright © 2001 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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