Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back

Jay Phat Buds (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith) inspired a pair of comic book artists to create the superhero characters Bluntman and Chronic. When the rights to the characters are sold to Hollywood with their real-life inspirations not getting a penny for their influence, the pair of stoners trek off to the Coast to put a stop to the production, but their journey is anything but easy in director Kevin Smith's homage to his long-time creations in "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back."

Laura's Review: B-

Writer/director Kevin Smith ("Clerks") goes back to where he started, giving an entire feature over to the Greek chorus who've appeared in all his films, Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith). When Jay and Silent Bob hear that the 'Bluntman and Chronic' comic book characters based on them have been sold to Miramax for a feature film, they find Holden McNeil (Ben Affleck,
"Chasing Amy") to get their cut. Holden's sold off his share to Banky Edwards (Jason Lee, "Chasing Amy") but does introduce the boys to the Internet. Jay becomes incensed when he sees all the rude comments on the web about his alter ego and the dynamic duo decide to take on Hollywood in "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back."

Kevin Smith gathers just about everyone who's ever been in one of his films to have fun dissing Miramax, Paul Thomas Anderson, the success of Ben Affleck and Matt Damon and the stupidity of his own characters. You'll find parodies of "E.T.," "Armageddon," "The Fugitive," and "Planet of the Apes" in this free-wheeling, good-natured, foul-mouthed grab bag.

Jay and Silent Bob meet up with a hitchhiker (George Carlin) who informs them that the 'unwritten book of the road' requires thumbers to orally service their drivers - just before they're picked up by a nun (Carrie Fisher - "Star Wars homage #2 after the "Star Wars-like" logo Smith's emblazoned across his film). Then Jay becomes smitten with Justice (Shannon Elizabeth, "American Pie"), a jewel thief travelling with Sissy (Eliza Dushku, "Bring It On"), Missy (Jennifer Schwalbach Smith, wife of Kevin Smith) and Chrissy (Ali Larter, "Legally Blonde"). Sissy makes Justice set up Jay and Silent Bob, telling them they're out to set free lab animals.

Jay and Silent Bob end up escaping with an Orangutan while the girls make off with a cache of diamonds, but now they've got idiot Federal Wildlife Marshall Wilenholly (Will Ferrell, "Superstar") on their trail. Eventually the lads make their way onto the Miramax lot, where they crash the filming of "Good Will Hunting 2: Hunting Season" before encountering James Van Der Beek ("Varsity Blues") and Jason Biggs ("American Pie") in the Bluntman and Chronic outfits
they appropriate. They dazedly reply to a set call by director Chaka (Chris Rock, "Dogma") and Silent Bob finds himself in a light saber dual with Cock-Knocker played by none other than Mark 'Luke Skywalker' Hamill.

Smith's film is clearly an exercise for his extended filmmaking family to have fun and they mostly let us in on it. This lightweight comedy is wispy, though, vanishing from memory within 24 hours of having seen it. Smith does have a talent for dialogue, making even excessive foul remarks still seem amusing, but his visual style (or lack thereof) still needs attention (early scenes in Holden's office look really subpar).

Most amusing is the trashing of Affleck by himself, Damon and Smith. Affleck is accused of having dead hookers in his trailer and his face adorns a giant movie billboard titled 'Moonraper.' Damon's introduced doing a 'lion face, lemon face' acting exercise with an admirable 'straight' face. A movie fan site, presumably based on Ain't-It-Cool-News, is redubbed the 'Poop Shoot' here.  While there are numerous references to things being 'gay' and Jay's sexual identity being questioned, GLAAD's recent attack on Smith seems like misplaced overkill.

Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith are front and center stage this time and prove they can hold it. The reliable Will Ferrell is amusingly clueless and just about the entire cast of "American Pie" acquit themselves well. A background scene showing Jay and Silent Bob's first infant meeting features Kevin Smith's baby daughter as his alter ego. Gus Van Sant gives a fun cameo while Wes Craven gives an awkward one. Chris Rock isn't funny at all as the shrill director. Morris Day gives a send off right out of "Purple Rain."

"Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" is fun while you're watching it, but with the talent on hand, you can't help but feel it should have been a whole lot better.

Robin's Review: C+

Back in 1989, Smith made his debut with his ode to slackers, the extra low budget film, "Clerks," where he introduced his now infamous characters Jay and Silent Bob. This pair of dope smoking hang bouts have made an appearance in every one of the director's films since his first. Most have been cameo-like perfs where they (at least the irreverent motor mouth Jay) spew forth some off-beat opinions and philosophies. Silent Bob broke his silence in Smith's best film to date, "Chasing Amy," and delivered a cogent treatise on love. The duo became earthly heroes fighting renegade angels in "Dogma." They are now tasked with defending their honor and take on the big guys of Hollywood as "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back."

Jay and his quiet partner leave the safe confines of their spot in front of their favorite convenience store in Asbury Park, NJ, when they learn that their alter egos, Bluntman and Chronic, developed into a popular comic book series by Holden McNeil (Ben Affleck) and Banky Edwards (Jason Lee), are about to become movie stars. Brodie Bruce (again, Lee) advises the confused pair that they are missing out on a lot of money because they never gave their permission for the film rights. Incensed, Jay and Bob, head for the west coast to set things right.

From the start we have a classic comic road movie with the two dudes hitting the tarmac with their thumbs stuck out, looking for a ride. Their first encounter is with a veteran hitcher (George Carlin) who sets them straight on the hitchhikers code - you have to "satisfy" whoever picks you up. As luck would have it the first ride they hitch is with a nun (Carrie Fisher) and Jay takes on the task of fulfilling the code. They get thrown out of the car. Another offered ride turns out to be a live action version of the cast of "Scooby-Doo" and this doesn't last long either. Then, in a convenience store somewhere in middle America, Jay lays his eyes on Justice (Shannon Elizabeth), a pretty and perky young lady who offers them a ride with her gorgeous friends, Sissy (Eliza Dushku), Chrissy (Ali Larter) and Missy (Jennifer Schwalbach Smith, the director's wife, which shows the level of nepotism "Strikes Back" yields). The girls tell the boys that they are on an animal rights mission and coerce Jay and Bob to help, but the real mission is less altruistic.

Things take off from here with a stolen orangutan, pilfered jewels, loony Federal Wildlife Marshal Wilenholly, a national manhunt and crashing a major studio production. I won't spoil things for the fans and the curious, so I'll stop here with any further description. What "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" really amounts to is a self-indulgent, buddy fest that brings together all of the Friends of Kevin and others into a goofball journey across the USA. It has its fun moments, but is aimed squarely at the fans of Jay and Silent Bob. It has some laughs along the way, but fewer than I expected.

The cast of cameo perfs and bit parts abounds with all manner of young, not-so-old, and the occasional icon player. Matt Damon and Ben Affleck poke humor at their own celebrity status, particularly Affleck's notorious hedonism. (Shortly after the screening I saw, Affleck admitted himself for detox. Fact parallels fiction, I guess.) Joining these "big name" stars are Smith alumnus Chris Rock, Alanis Morissette, Jason Lee and Joey Lauren Adams and a myriad of others names that is too long to list. Everyone, especially Mark Hamill as super bad guy Cock-Knocker (we has a huge right hand) and foe to Bluntman and Chronic, are having one hell of a good time.

There isn't a bad bone in the body of "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" but the film is too loaded with inside jokes and mutual admiration and camaraderie to draw in the audience. I felt, and I should never feel this way, like an outsider looking in and I am privy to all the inside humor. The film is a paean to Smith's dynamic duo and has the feel that he is putting his long-time characters to bed - probably until someone gives him a bunch of money to resurrect the guys once again.