Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2000) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Very funny movie, funniest of the year so far. A great, anarchic, swan song for our two favorite stoners.

Dogma was such an unfunny film that I despaired for Kevin Smith and turned the future of movie comedy over to Trey Parker. In this film, Smith solved the problems that made Dogma such a bad movie, which were:

1. The pacing was poor because all the characters delivered long monologues all the time.

2. There were no characters except "Jay". Kevin just wrote a bunch of speeches and parceled them out randomly to the characters. Any character's lines could go into any other character's mouth, and it wouldn't make any difference. It was just Kevin jokin' around and musin' about religion.

3. He actually thought the plot was somehow important to our viewing experience.

This time, he brought the entire train right back on track. His trademark monologues are still there, but they are short and funny. The characters are sharply differentiated. The plot is only there as a vehicle for the jokes.

Some of it is the edgiest humor seen on screen in years. For example, people were rolling in the aisles as Jay ranted on about his mastery of the clit, and during George Carlin's turn as a straight hitchhiker who'll give a blow job for a good ride. Hey, you have to - it's in the unwritten book of the road, a theme which is carried through the movie.

It wasn't all raunchy sex jokes, although there were plenty of those. Most of the movie is actually about making fun of Hollywood. The premise is that Jay and Silent Bob are heading to Hollywood to prevent Miramax from making a film about them. They have two good reasons: (1) they didn't get paid (2) the movie is already turning them into public laughingstocks on the internet. 

There is some really funny stuff there. I laughed out loud at the scenes from "Good Will Hunting 2," featuring the real Gus van Sant. Van Sant's  cameo is matched by fellow director Wes Craven, who was filming Scream 4 elsewhere on the lot. Various other Hollywood types lampoon themselves as themselves, including Shannen Doherty, James Van Der Beek, Jason Biggs ("I know you", Jay exclaims, "you're the guy who fucked that pie"), and Kevin's buddies Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. Affleck needs a mini-monologue to make fun of Damon for making pussy films about sensitive golfing cowboys who want to go to Harvard, but Damon only needs to utter two words to shut Affleck up - "Reindeer Games."

Actually Kevin pulled a punch in one of those scenes. When Biggs and Van Der Beek took off their wigs, Jay's first reaction was to look at Biggs and say "You're the guy who fucked the pie." My first reaction was to look an Van Der Beek's early case of MPB and think, "You're bald? What, two weeks ago you were in high school and now you fucking need to simonize your head? What were you, 45 when you were in that show? Look at you, man, fucking Kojak has more hair, and if he were still alive he'd probably be younger than you." Well, I guess ol' Dawson was nice enough to appear in the flick and make fun of himself, so they couldn't push it too far. 

Jay and Bob exist in their own universe, which exists in two different parallel dimensions. On the one hand, they run into situations, characters, and places they have visited before in their earlier adventures. But it's a post-modernist world, so the fictional characters also discuss movies in which they have appeared, the real-life characters discuss the same movies (Affleck, as Affleck, rips on Damon for talking him into doing "Dogma"), and the lines cross. For example, Affleck plays a fictional character in addition to playing himself, and Jay is trying to get into the lovely drawers of a character played by Shannon Elizabeth, but he asks Jason Biggs if he ever fucked the real Shannon Elizabeth - "that Russian chick"- when they were making "American Pie." Jay and Silent Bob also run into other fictional characters who don't live in their universe - like the Scooby gang.

Don't worry about the fact that it doesn't make sense. It isn't supposed to. That's part of the humor. It's non-stop gags with barely enough time to catch your breath, and they are mostly original and clever. It's good to remember that's what comedies are supposed to be about - laughter.

Even the mistakes are funny. For example, Jason Lee shows up in the movie playing a dual role. Of course, of all the actors in the known universe, Lee is probably the one least capable of a dual role, and you can't tell the difference between them. Meryl Streep, the boy ain't. No matter what he does or says, he's the whiny-voiced, pontificating, sarcastic guy who sat next to you in trig class and thought he was smarter than everyone else, and who got his ass kicked about three times a week. But the great thing about it is that asking Lee to play two parts is, in itself, a hilarious concept. Of course, if I had Kevin's power, I would have asked Lee to play both Othello and Iago, and I would have had the two characters engage in a conversation to make it clear that there was no difference between them. But then Lee would have known I was making fun of him, and would have ended our friendship. The much subtler Kevin managed to ridicule his friend in a way that Lee will probably never understand except in the unlikely event that he reads this comment! 

Sidebar - has anyone ever had as much dialogue to memorize as Jason Mewes had in this film? Since the character is in just about every scene, and talking for two people, and has a case of verbal diarrhea to being with, he has to be challenging the record.

Some reactions to the critics, who obviously didn't "get it" on this movie:

  • One critic wrote that nobody will understand the jokes in 50 years because the film's references are to other Smith movies, other current movies, "hot" personalities, and movies in general. In response, I have to agree, and must advise you to see it now rather than waiting fifty years. 
  • Gay rights activists have protested that the film denigrates homosexuals, in several ways, but mainly by having the characters constantly berate each other by calling each other gay or accusing each other of gay behavior, as if it were the worst thing you could say to someone. Actually, they have a fair point. I do understand why they are upset, but I think you have to be fair and say that whenever a character berates another character in such a way, it is obviously not meant to represent the author's point of view, but rather the character's point of view, and it is the character's stupidity that is being ridiculed, not homosexuals. Not only that, but the film is ribald and unfettered satire, and I don't remember reading anywhere that any particular type of people got an exemption from ridicule. Kevin makes fun of everybody. Having said that, however, I do think that they went on and on with the gay references long after it ceased to be funny, and the whole theme could have been toned down. 
  • Other critics belabored the fact that Kevin is generally not a very sophisticated director. Yes, it is true that he's not as good a director as he is a writer (or actor, where he is underrated, the heir to John Belushi for the kingship of facial expressions), and nobody will confuse him with Brian De Palma or Oliver Stone when it comes to technical savvy, but a good comedy doesn't need to deliver any technical sophistication. Woody Allen's early, technically inept films, like Bananas and Take the Money and Run, are a lot funnier than some of his later tone-poem masterpieces, and nobody cares about the camerawork in Blazing Saddles or Animal Crackers. What difference does it make that Kevin doesn't do much with the camera? 

Let me repeat a point I made earlier, and a point which runs through all my commentary since I started writing about movies. One measures a comedy by how funny it is. That's why people call it a comedy. Except for Aristotle. If Aristotle invites you to a comedy, remember you have an appointment that evening to repair your comb.

Although I have to admit that Aristotle's web site has some funny shit.

Listen to the audience. Lots of laughs? Good comedy. Not many laughs? Bad comedy. There's nothing that any snobbish critics or award societies can do to change that. If you don't make people laugh, no amount of great acting, inventive camera work, interesting characters, great plot, and visual imagination can make it a great comedy.

Only laughs.

This film is about raucous laughter. It's about raunchy sex and drug jokes and making fun of celebrities and the entertainment industry, so if you read and enjoy our reviews, you're the target market.

Great DVD - maybe four hours worth of stuff not in the film. Something like an hour and a half of deleted scenes alone, plus almost two hours of commentary, plus lots more.

As Jay might say, "Watch it and laugh your nads off, you tubby bitch. It fuckin' rocks, except that fat fuck Kevin Smith didn't put any titties in it. What a pussy." 


DVD info from Amazon

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 2.35:1

  • every feature known to man, including full-length commentary

  • more than an hour of deleted scenes

  • plus interviews, gag reels, and other cutting room stuff

  • cable TV documentary on the film

  • and more


female: none

male: Jay (Jason Mewes) shows his butt to a policeman

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: less than three stars. Ebert 3/4, Berardinelli 2.5/4

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it a very solid 6.8 because ... well, because the critics were wrong. Simple as that.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C+. Great ribald comedy/satire. Not for everyone, of course, but top-notch genre fare.

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