By Nick Maylor
With the news that Kevin Smith’s Jay and Silent Bob Reboot has entered production, I decided that it’s time to look back on this raunchy classic. The new film (despite the title) is a sequel to this 1999 ensemble wherein Smith promises to one-up the celebrity cameo factor now that he knows “way more” famous people.
The 2001 film was the first to feature Smith’s recurring characters Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Smith himself) as the lead characters in a film. The duo had previously appeared as supporting players in all of Smith’s directorial outings Clerks (1994), Mallrats (1995), Chasing Amy (1997) and Dogma (1999).
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001) saw the stoner-duo on a journey to Hollywood to stop a movie from being made; a movie based on a comic-book for which the titular characters were based on Jay and Bob. This is a reference to Chasing Amy where Holden McNeil (Ben Affleck) worked as the artist for the aforementioned Bluntman and Chronic comic-book along with Banky Edwards (Jason Lee) who worked as the comic’s inker.
Edwards and McNeil both appear in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, with Affleck and Lee reprising their roles from Chasing Amy. Affleck and Lee also appear in the film as different characters; with Lee reprising his role of Brodie Bruce from Mallrats and Affleck playing a satirical version of himself (along with Matt Damon).
Why do these two want to stop the movie that would provide them with a huge paycheck? Simple: to stop people talking shit about them on the internet.
These two aren’t exactly geniuses.
Jon Stewart, Will Ferrell, Wes Craven, Gus Van Sant, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Chris Rock and a ton of other celebrities make cameo appearances in the farcical road-trip movie; a key element of the film’s charm.
Ferrell appears as Federal Wildlife Marshal Willenholly, an inept agent who is hot on the trail of Jay and Bob after the capture of an orangutan; something he horrifically describes as “the most dangerous animal known to man”. Ferrell was just breaking out in movies at the time this film came out and he is simply put, hilarious in the role. Parodying Tommy Lee Jones character from The Fugitive (1993), he finds himself in increasingly ridiculous situations but never loses his zeal for the chase.
Amongst the celebrities playing themselves are Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Wes Craven and Gus Van Sant. A sequel to Good Will Hunting (1997) is shown being filmed. Gus Van Sant is too busy counting money to be bothered doing any directing while Affleck and Damon quibble over how terrible the film will end up being. Affleck manages to make fun of himself more than anybody else as he dispels accusations that a dead hooker needs to be removed from his trailer. It’s also amusing to hear the extras instructed not to look either Ben or Matt directly in the eyes or they will be fired. Am I the only one who thinks Affleck and Damon are wearing the clothes they had when walking onto set? Their send up of pretentious actors “phoning it in” is brilliant. Affleck’s mockery of his own acting skills is the cherry on the sundae.
Perhaps the most meta-performance belongs to Mark Hamill, who appears as himself playing the villain of the Bluntman and Chronic movie, Cocknocker. To be sure, while the film is fun, it is the most immature and potty-minded sort of fun.
The film is essentially one massive meta-joke and much will be lost to those who aren’t familiar with Smith’s prior films. However, as a fan, it’s a fun easter-egg hunt and who’s who of cameos. If Smith manages to up the ante with the elements that made this film charming, he could have a winner not just with fans, but with some more general audiences. Surely there will be fewer references to Smith’s previous works as Jay and Bob have been largely absent in Smith’s more recent directorial outings. What have they been up to?
The plot of the movie is essentially the same as the original, with Jay and Bob trying now to stop the REBOOT of the movie-within-a-movie from Strike Back. With fewer references to himself and more jabs at the state of Hollywood in general (along with some juicy cameos) is enough to get me excited. Seeing a skinny Silent Bob will also be amusing; as will the jabs that Jay is no doubt taking at his mute sidekick now that there is less of Bob there.
On a final note:
As I pointed out previously, Ben Affleck had The Simpsons-level precognition when it came to his eventual casting as Batman.
Similarly here (via his Holden McNeil character) breaks the fifth wall (that’s correct) and calls out how the internet will react to the news that he would don the cowl.
Smith himself jokingly pointed this out on an episode of Hollywood Babble-On; his weekly live podcast hosted by Ralph Garman; wherein he played that audio as Affleck’s “official” response to the controversy.
Nick is an actor/writer/comedian/musician from Hamilton, ON Canada. Having been a film nut since the early days of his life, Nick has had an obsession with cinema and popular entertainment. Nick has written for thecinemaholic.com and is currently working on a book about the American Cinema Renaissance (1967-present) with John H. Foote. Nick met John when studying acting at the Toronto Film School, for which John H. Foote was director and Film History professor. The two have been arguing ever since.
Follow Nick on Twitter @NickMaylor