The force is with them
When’s the last time a film made you laugh until you got cramps and your face hurt? Was it Monty Python and the Holy Grail? Raising Arizona? South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut?
If you find farts funny, and if you are familiar with the works of writer-director Kevin Smith, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back stands a great chance of giving you gut spasms and a soaked shirt. For me, this film offered consistent laughter comparable to the great Holy Grail, in that I was laughing from the film’s beginning until the end credits. It represents the very best in raunchy, joyously obscene humor. It’s a blast.
From the moment the characters of Jay and Silent Bob showed up in Smith’s first film, Clerks, I’ve considered them two of my favorite movie characters … ever. They got bigger roles in Smith’s follow-up, the under-appreciated Mallrats, and a great cameo in Chasing Amy. They were then elevated to major characters in Dogma, and they now get their chance to star in what Smith is calling his farewell to the slew of Jersey folk that have occupied his films.
In many ways, this is a fanboy film, featuring a parade of stars reprising their roles from past Smith movies. Those unfamiliar with Smith’s work may be baffled by moments such as Jason Lee showing up as two different characters from past films (Mallrats and Chasing Amy), but those same people will be able to go back, watch some good movies and figure things out.
The set-up is simple enough: Jay and Silent Bob (Smith) discover that a film called Bluntman & Chronic is being produced, using their likenesses without their permission. The fact that they aren’t getting paid disturbs them enough, but more annoying is that the film is generating nasty Internet buzz—Jay and Silent Bob are getting dissed (this provides some nice jokes targeted at Web sites like Ain’t it Cool News and Dark Horizons). A road trip ensues; the pair heads for Hollywood to stop the film or get paid.
Smith takes this opportunity to satirize Hollywood in a fashion that is refreshing and new, considering how many have attempted to skewer the system in the past. I’m sorry, but Robert Altman (The Player) and Barry Sonnenfeld (Get Shorty) have officially been smoked. A scene in which Ben Affleck and Matt Damon rank on themselves while filming Good Will Hunting 2: Hunting Season is self-deprecating humor at its best. Call this Mr. Smith Goes to Hollywood and Kicks Some Loser Ass.
The road trip involves references to Charlie’s Angels, Scooby Doo, E.T., many nods to Star Wars and lots of pot humor. Seemingly every lead in the film is afforded one shining moment to fart, and we are given the blessed sight of George Carlin going down on a truck driver. All of this works beautifully in the grand tradition of the slob comedy (Caddyshack, Animal House, etc.) while taking the genre to new heights.
Jason Mewes tears the screen up as Jay. He’s a frightening national treasure, as is Smith as his silent but expressive cohort, who garners a laugh with every raised eyebrow. Will Ferrell, my pick for all-time funniest SNL member, is hilarious as Marshall Wilenholly (perhaps cinema’s new, all-time great joke name).
This is not for everyone, and I don’t care. I am thankful for this film—thankful that somebody could make a sometimes-jaded moviegoer like myself laugh for over 90 minutes. This is unquestionably the year’s funniest movie, and I will be surprised if it is bested.
Smith says this is the last hurrah for Jay and Silent Bob. With all due respect, I’m holding out hope that Kevin Smith is a lying bastard.