Hard-core Kevin Smith fans (I don’t think there are any other kind) will find this just the movie they were waiting for. It’s a love letter to his characters and to his fans, a sort of movie equivalent to the holiday greetings the Beatles used to send out to members of their fan club. “Jay and Silent Bob” is filled the cheery vulgarity, sweet sprit, deliriously crackpot dialogue, and cornucopia of arcane references to pop culture and to Smith’s view askew world. In other words, it is the ultimate culmination of Smith’s oeuvre. It either clears the decks and enables him to move on to something new, or it just paves the way for another round of Red Hook-based, self-referential little gems.
What this means is that if you don’t already know who Jay and Silent Bob are, see Smith’s other movies before you see this one. This movie is a sort of “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” (or The Wind Done Gone) of Smith’s previous movies. He has taken two tangential characters who have appeared in all of the other films and given them their own movie.
Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (played by screenwriter/director Smith) are two small-time drug dealers who spend their lives hanging out in front of the convenience store that provided the setting for Smith’s fist film, “Clerks.” In his third film, “Chasing Amy,” it turned out that they were the inspiration for the offbeat superhero stars of a successful comic book created by the lead characters (played by Ben Affleck and Jason Lee).
In the latest installment, Jay and Silent Bob find out that there is going to be a movie based on the comic book, and they go to Hollywood to stop the production. Along the way, they run into the Scooby-Doo gang, a minivan of gorgeous girls and a guy with a guitar who say that they are on their way to protest animal testing, just about every character from the previous four movies, and many of today’s hottest young stars, happy to show everyone that they are not taking themselves too seriously.
This is the kind of movie that has Ben Affleck say, “Who would pay to see a movie about Jay and Silent Bob?” and then turn toward the camera to give those of us who did a knowing wink. Everyone on screen makes fun of the movie, the characters, and themselves. Smith fans will have a lot of fun — and even more when the DVD comes out and they can add another layer of arcania and in-jokes.
Parents should know that, like all of Smith’s movies, this has the strongest possible vulgarity and profanity, including drug use and very explicit sexual references. Smith has been criticized by gay activists for some homophobic dialogue and has already agreed to pay a fine and put explanatory language in the credits. He notes, however, that the comments are made by people who are not intended in any way to be role models, and that these comments are just one example of behavior that makes this very clear. One female character does point out to the completely clueless Jay that women do not like to be called “bitches.” It is obvious though, that Jay is ignorant, not mean-spirited. Indeed, despite his nonstop monologue of vulgarity, it is clear that Jay is really very sweet, even tender-hearted. And a brief flashback shows us that the only reason he talks that way is that he never heard anything better from his mother.
Families who see this movie should talk about how the real-life Jason Mewes might feel being turned into the movie’s Jay, and how Smith, who puts such rich dialogue into the mouths of other characters, created a silent character for himself. They should also look at Smith’s View Askew web pages to get more insight into the world of Smith and his characters.
Families who enjoy this movie should see Smith’s other films. They might also like to get a glimpse of Jay and Silent Bob in the otherwise stupid “Scary Movie”.