" The writing process for Strikes Back was probably Kevin Smith and some of his buddies sitting in a room saying, 'You know what would make me laugh…' and that’s it. "
Title: Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back by Dimension Films
Format: Major Motion Picture
Reviewing Monkey: Dungapult
The Hype: Kevin Smith- the writer, director, and star of Jay and Silent Bob has risen with a fascinating combination of fame and infamy through the Indy ranks to become one of the most talked about movie makers around. His latest epic is his true "arrival" piece. That meaning he’s finally made it and can now do whatever the hell he wants. So, was it a good idea to give, and I say this with all the respect in the world, an Indy geek that much power? Read on, my Monkeys. Read on.
What This Monkey Thought...
Story: J&B Strike Back chronicles two
of Smith’s stable characters, Jay and Silent Bob, in their first (and last)
featured appearance. These ever present though always background oriented junky
goof-offs are thrust into the spot light when, much to their surprise, two comic
book characters based on their likeness are licensed into a major motion picture.
To make matters worse, they stumble onto the flick’s Internet buzz, which is
ripe with denunciations of not only the movie’s concept, but also they as the
main characters. So, "The Smooth Little Stoner Pimp Who Loves the Ladies" and
"His Tubby Black Man Servant Lunchbox" (as they are lovingly referred to) set
out from Jersey to stop the films production and thus put an end to all the
negative hype about them. Wackiness ensues.
So, obviously, story isn’t the big winner here. Actually, if you took all the dime store twists and blatant cliché’s out of the plot, you’d end up with about a fifteen-minute buddy road movie… which is never a good thing. But, what could be the flick’s huge falling is, purposefully, rallied into it’s main strength. Kevin Smith, obviously tired of doing insightful flicks after his last two efforts (the religiously critical "Dogma" and the relationship oriented "Chasing Amy"), has set out to make one of the least intellectual, most corny, and light hearted pieces he could. And in that he’s succeeded admirably.
The movie, really, is nothing but one set up joke after another strung together with the loosest of plots. Actually, several of us commented that the writing process for Strikes Back was probably Kevin Smith and some of his buddies sitting in a room saying, "You know what would make me laugh…" and that’s it. The journey across country, supposedly the focus of the movie, is almost non-existent. Instead, you get two hours of comic book cameos, cult references, gay jokes, slapstick, inside actor bashing, and general tomfoolery (did I just say tomfoolery?!?). All of which, I’m happy to say, works really really well…Especially if you’re a geek (which, lets face it, if you’re reading this is probably true). The other big theme is previous Kevin Smith references. The whole movie is pretty much just one big running joke about his 4 movies to come before this. From re-occurring almost every character he’s ever created to hiding pooploads of inside jokes, it is a giant well of fun for the existing Kevin Smith fan. The down side to that, however, is that if you haven’t seen his other flicks probably a third of the humor is going to be lost on you. So rent them all before going to drop your 8 bucks in the theater- you’ll enjoy this movie a whole helluva lot more for it.
However, all that doesn’t mean it has a story…so I have to ding it. 3 out of 5
Acting: Most of the acting, and I use
that term loosely, is done by the two main characters- Jay and Silent Bob (as
they get about 85% of the screen time). The truth of the matter, though, is
the vast majority of that is done by Jason Mewes who plays the ever stoned and
constantly vulgar Jay. He walks around spouting, as he appropriately refers
to it, "perv bullshit" and seems completely confused as to where he might be.
All the while the aptly named "Silent Bob" says a whole lot of nothing and shoots
Jay generally unapproving looks. But, while it’s true any high school freshmen
drama students could pull it off, our two heroes are exactly the light hearted,
illogical, and pointless characters this movie needs at its core. For some reason,
with these heroes at the helm, all the psychotic and strange crap that happens
almost seems believable.
And, because of that little truth, we get easily set up for the true marvel of J&SBSB…Actor self parody. Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Mark Hamill, Jason Biggs, James Van Der Beek, Wes Craven, Shannen Doherty, and a slew of others all take roles pretty much exclusively designed to make fun of themselves and us for watching this, and the rest, of their movies…And it’s all fantastic. Dry and incredibly self deprecating, you will laugh until you pee yourself at Wes Craven shrugging and admitting he’s "stopped trying" on making good horror movies, Jason Biggs crying that he’ll forever only be remembered as "that guy who screwed a pie", and Mark Hamill reprising his ever present role as "the Jedi Master." These high profile stars tear themselves apart magnificently- and honestly create some of the most memorable movie scenes in recent history. 3.5 out of 5
Action: You know I was actually surprised. For a comedy this had an awful lot of action. Kung Fu fight scenes shoot outs, chases, and light-dildo duels (don’t ask) all come together to keep things moving pretty quickly…which is very cool. My only two gripes are that: 1) The fight scenes are all filmed in that incredibly frickin' annoying MTV "quick cuts and close up" style so you never actually get to see what’s really going on…Which is a shame, especially in the light-dildo duel, because it looks like they may actually have had some good stuff. 2) All of the gunfire is CGIed in. Not only the bullet hits, which I could understand, but also the firing of the guns. Instead of using blanks, etc., they just painted a fire burst on the tip of the guns when they may or may not have thought the gun was shooting…And I think it looks like absolute crap. I don’t know…Maybe Smith has some kind of anti-gun thing going on, but if that’s the case; don’t put them in your movie at all. Really strange and very unappealing. 3.5 out of 5
Visuals and Directing: Kevin Smith has always been a very "meat and potatoes" kind of director and it shows again here. Very stable and established camera shots, lighting, and visuals mean that it’s not really much separated from the norm (which is not necessarily a bad thing at all). Where he really does shine, though, is his choice of shot content and backgrounds. Not only does he keep the frames filled with things you really do want to see and will hesitate to look away from but he also riddles the backgrounds with tons of inside jokes. Comic geeks and Kevin Smith fans rejoice…you could see the movie six times and still not probably find all the hidden gags that are hiding just away from normal view. 4 out of 5
Sound Track: The theme of this movie, if you haven’t gathered it yet, is "Things that make Kevin Smith laugh." And, much the same way, the theme of the soundtrack is "Songs that Kevin Smith likes." Which, in no way, is a bad thing. Good main stream music with a wide variety of styles keep the movie rolling and will make you want to go by the soundtrack. Or, at least, it did for me. 4.5 out of 5
Value vs. Admission: I, simply, had a great time. But, if you want to as well, you’re going to have to do a few things before going to see this movie. 1) Be an existing Kevin Smith fan. 2) Be a geek on some level (comic, sci-fi, movie, etc.). 3) Believe that fart, gay, dirty sex, and monkey jokes are essentially funny. 4) Be willing to turn your brain off. If you can do all that, you will love this movie. If you can’t, I wouldn’t go near it. 4 out of 5
|"Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" should really be called "Things That Make Kevin Smith and his Geeky Friends Laugh." So, if you could consider counting yourself as one of his "Geeky Friends" (and don’t feel bad if you do…After all, there are several hundred thousand of us- including Ben Affleck, Shannon Elizabeth, and Mark Hamill) then go see this movie. If not, you’re better off passing it by.|
The Good: Tons of inside jokes, often-self depreciating celebrity cameos, juvenile humor, and running gags.
The Bad: No real plot or story to speak of and funny pretty much exclusively for geeks and Kevin Smith fans (if, indeed, those are two different things).
The Overall Ugly: I sure as hell enjoyed it…but make sure you would before you go see it.
What it's Worth: Full price.