Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back
In Elvis Mitchell's New York Times review of this film, he says, "This may be the greatest film ever made for 14-year-old boys." My problem, if it is one, is that I have a mental age of about 15-1/2, and so I only laughed sometimes. I laughed at a few wonderful throwaway lines that pop up unexpectedly, as they do in Kevin Smith's previous film, "Dogma." I laughed at the amazing na´vete of Jay (Jason Mewes) about man-woman relationships. I laughed at his being unaware of the internet. I laughed at his membership in the dope-dealer's New Jersey union local and I laughed at his misreading of the women's association called C.L.I.T. I laughed at the boys crashing the set of "Good Will Hunting 2," with Ben Affleck and Matt Damon doing an update of the "How do you like them apples" line. I did not laugh at the endless gay-bashing, homophobic dialogue, and repetitious mysogyny. And toward the end I was looking at my watch to see how much more I had to sit through. The film is filled with in-jokes within in-jokes, only some of which I got.
The plot, if there is one, has to do with Jay and Silent Bob (Smith plays Silent Bob), in New Jersey, learning that a film is to be made by Miramax about two comic-strip characters who were based on Jay and Silent Bob themselves. They are outraged at this ripoff of their personas, and head off to Hollywood to stop the production. That's the plot, and like any road picture the film consists of episodes strung like beads along the road (they have no money and must hitchhike).
The problem is that only a few of those episodes work, and then only sporadically. What should have been the centerpiece - they meet four gorgeous women who tell them they are on a mission to liberate animals in a lab but who are really out to steal diamonds from the place next door and use the boys as a diversion - is not sharply written, is badly paced, and poorly directed. And much of what comes after, particularly a number of police-type chases headed by Will Ferrell, is self-conscious mugging that has no place in a film like this. What makes this kind of comedy work is that it must take itself absolutely seriously every minute. This one stops dead every little while so someone can mug for the camera.
I liked the brazenness of "Clerks," with its rooftop hockey and its sex-in-the-bathroom scene. I liked the nothing-sacredness of "Dogma," though in retrospect it shows only occasional flashes of wit; and I wanted very badly to like "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back." But it seems as though Smith himself feels he's running out of ideas, and maybe getting too old to keep doing the same thing; I think it's time for him to try a new direction.