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With: Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Shannon Elizabeth, Chris Rock, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Jason Lee, Will Ferrell
Written by: Kevin Smith
Directed by: Kevin Smith
MPAA Rating: R for nonstop crude and sexual humor, pervasive strong language, and drug content
Running Time: 95
Date: 08/22/2001

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

In the past, Kevin Smith has attempted to say a few things about lifeand love and God in accomplished films like Chasing Amy and Dogma.But right now he doesn't want to say anything: he just wants to make uslaugh. And Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back achieves that better thanany other major release this summer.

The characters Jay and Silent Bob (played by Jason Mewes and Smith, respectively) appear in small doses in all four of Smith's earlier films. They hang out, smoke and sell pot, and Silent Bob listens while Jay tells all kinds of penis jokes and makes lewd references. Their parts were increased in "Dogma" as they accompanied Linda Fiorentino cross-country to save the world, but here they have the entire floor to themselves. And what do you know? They never overstay their welcome.

For Jay and Bob's starring debut, Smith cooks up another road movie, but here far less than the end of the world is at stake. In Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Miramax is making the movie of Bluntman and Chronic, the comic book heroes based on Jay and Silent Bob. As the basis for the characters, Jay and Bob are entitled to a cut, but they haven't seen any dough yet. Moreover, irritated fans are posting nasty messages on the internet about the fate of such a movie. So Jay and Bob begin to hitch to Hollywood to stop production of the movie and hopefully stop the internet slander in the process.

Along the way, the duo meets up with a hot babe named Justice (Shannon Elizabeth) and her colleagues, a vanload of more hot babes (Eliza Dushku, Ali Larter, and Smith's wife Jennifer Schwalbach) who turn out to be diamond thieves looking for a couple of patsies. Unfortunately for Jay, he falls in love with Justice sidelining their Hollywood quest for a while. And so Jay and his "heterosexual life-mate" Silent Bob agree to break into an animal lab to "rescue" a monkey as a diversion, while the hot babes steal diamonds from across the street. The babes make tracks and the monkey becomes Jay and Bob's constant companion.

This loose plot is merely an excuse to hang jokes and references on. (A funny Planet of the Apes parody plays better than Tim Burton's actual movie.) Fans of Smith will find clues to all four of his previous films, plus the film skewers nearly every project starring either Matt Damon or Ben Affleck (who appear as themselves). And, in some kind of amazing casting coup, Smith managed to get Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher together in the same movie for the first time since Return of the Jedi in 1983 (though they don't appear onscreen together).

Chris Rock co-stars as a militant black filmmaker in charge of the Bluntman and Chronic film, stabbing at all kinds of racial stereotypes, just as Jay constantly challenges sexual mores with his unchecked tongue, and just as Smith stabs at Miramax (who released the film under its "genre" wing, Dimension) itself. Like comedian Jackie Mason once claimed about himself, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back is an equal opportunity offender.

Though the movie makes good use of Rock and its many other cameos (George Carlin, Shannen Doherty, etc.), the strength of the movie comes from Jay, who is able to say and do exactly what he's thinking and feeling in the most primal way imaginable, unlike the rest of us. When Jay sees Justice for the first time, he immediately thinks "sex," and we see his fantasy version of her walking in the door (intercut with the reality as viewed by Silent Bob). Normally, we're not supposed to talk about this stuff, but Jay doesn't understand why not. It's refreshing.

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back supplies tons of laughs through its first three-quarters, but like most movies of this type, the jokes and the climax of the movie tend to stumble over one another. It all ends clumsily, but not without a goofy, sweaty smile stretching from ear to ear.

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