Join the discussion on

" Looks like Spielberg’s work "
— Will Smith, Men in Black II

MRQE Top Critic

Ballroom

An exercise in atmosphere, with some really inspired surrealism —John Adams (DVD review...)

Trividic et al haunt the Ballroom

Sponsored links

NOTE: Director Kevin Smith’s humor is often crude, and to describe it one often has to use some of those words you can’t say on TV. If you are offended by “those” four-letter words (and others), do yourself a favor and don’t read this review. The films I will walk out of are few and far between. Case in point was Kevin Smith’s 1999 trash-heap Dogma. Dogma raised a fair amount of controversy for its childish, self-indulgent mingling of the Catholic Church and constant fecal humor. For me, the film established a new low standard for filmmaking.

It’s not that I have anything against going after church, state, or any other institution, for that matter. It’s just that as I sat there in the theater, I wondered how many of the people “up in arms” had actually watched the film. Its inane story and ridiculous script made any of the film’s “commentary” seem like a sidebar. Beyond all of that, it just plain wasn’t funny. I didn’t walk out, but I wanted to.

Expectations

Silent Bob (Smith) and Jay (Mewes) prepare to strikeNeedless to say, expectations for Smith’s newest film were pretty low.

Granted, Smith rightfully deserves his status as a DIY hero after piecing together Clerks (a commercially successful flick about -you guessed it - clerks in a convenience store) on a meager $27,000 and a pile of credit cards. And Chasing Amy (a quasi-serious study on love, lesbianism, and maturity) was actually a damn respectable flick.

But Smith also spends an inordinate amount of time make jokes about being gay, farting, and taking a dump. He seems pretty well aware of how juvenile his characters can be, but it doesn’t really make the jokes any funnier, or the serious props he gets from the indie crowd any more justified. Far more talented directors have done much funnier work with shit for a budget (check out any of the beautifully atrocious crap put out by Troma for an example).

Nonetheless...

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back turned out to be pretty funny.

The plot surrounds Smith’s perennial stoners Jay (Jason Mews) and Silent Bob (Smith himself) attempting to get to Hollywood to stop the filming of a movie based around their lives. They figure that if they keep the film from being made, ass-hole online critics (i.e. me) and kids in chat rooms with foul mouths will quit smearing their names.

Along the way to Hollywood, they get picked up by a slew of self-professed “bad girl clich├ęs” on their way to steal a bunch of diamonds in the world’s finest location - Boulder, Colorado (woohoo!). Problem is, the girls need a distraction for their intricate heist.

Enter Jay and Silent Bob, who are conned into stealing a monkey from a nearby animal testing plant (in Boulder?). The plan goes awry and Jay and Silent Bob are on the run - finding love, buds, and Scooby Doo along the way to Hollywood. Besides the trip to Boulder, the plot was predictably (and intentionally) stupid, but somehow still funny.

Luckily, Smith ended up using his massive budget on cool cameos more than on dumb special effects (i.e. Dogma’s Golgotha Shit Monster) and it pays off.

George Carlin, Shannon Doherty, Chris Rock, Matt Damon, and Ben Affleck all return for their regular appearances. Affleck and Damon actually spend a fair amount of time ridiculing the low moments of their own careers, one of the cooler moves I’ve seen in a while.

Mark Hamill (the Cock Knocker) and Carrie Fisher (a nun in danger of undergoing Jay’s cunnilingus) also pop up in cameos, as do directors Gus Van Sant and Wes Cravens.

Embracing the Dork

Despite admittedly hoping this film would suck so I write a really scathing review (I reaaaallllyyy hate Dogma), I just can’t. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back was a mildly funny, quasi-intelligent movie with a lot of interesting cameos. Considering the wide variety of pap that passes as comedy on the big screen as of late, that’s saying something.

Besides that, I have to give Smith all credit for being able to fulfill his sci-fi loving, comic-book readin’ geek fantasies on the big screen. Somebody ‘s got to do it, and he seems to be having fun.

P.S. Don’t take your kids to see this unless you intend on explaining to them what “toss the salad” or “cock- knocker” means.