Finally in 2018 a sequel to “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back” was announced after failed attempts to get “Clerks” and “Mallrats” sequels greenlit, for various reasons of funding and legalities. To say many fans, me included, were happy is a huge understatement.
Kevin Smith has been one of my favourite film-makers for over 25 years, never failing to disappoint; I even love his unfairly underrated, and worst received films, “Jersey Girl” and batshit crazy B-movie homage “Yoga Hosers“.
Come the release of “Jay and Silent Bob Reboot” anticipation was almost at fever pitch, and I am delighted to say it was hugely entertaining.
My introduction to Jay & Silent Bob, and Kevin Smith, was back in 1994 with his debut feature film, the seminal classic “Clerks“; which went on to inspire successive generations of film-makers into realising their dreams of making movies.
Jay & Silent Bob returned the following year in his much maligned, even by Kevin Smith himself, studio backed follow up “Mallrats“. Understandably many were disappointed because it has less of the “Clerks” style character study comedy, and moved away from the gritty low-fi aesthetic; it is a far more polished knockabout screwball comedy. I myself loved it from the first time I watched it, and find it an absolute pleasure to see that it is now far more highly regarded, even by the man himself.
1997 saw them return again in “Chasing Amy“, viewed by many as his best film to date. If I really had to pick a favourite it would be this, or “Dogma“.
1999’s “Dogma” at long last saw Jay and Silent Bob step up as fully fledged lead characters alongside Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Linda Fiorentino, Salma Hayek, Alan Rickman, and Chris Rock; saving the world from the impending apocalypse brought on by two renegade angels.
The following year they appeared in the short lived, yet fun, animated series adapted from the Clerks comic books.
2001 saw them finally get a film all of their own, “Jay and Silent Bob Strikes Back“; full to the brim of unapologetic references to all of Kevin Smith’s previous films and far more besides, with cameos galore.
“Clerks II“, released 5 years later, was the last time we saw Jay & Silent Bob in a live action feature, with both of them straight out of rehab. Kevin Smith promised Jason Mewes he would write this film for him if he went to rehab and cleaned up, he did and has never looked back. He is now a father himself, with his daughter appearing in this new film.
Yet again they returned in animated form in 2013’s enjoyable “Jay and Silent Bob’s Super Groovy Cartoon Movie“.
“Jay and Silent Bob Reboot” was released in late 2019, and sees them return to Hollywood to stop a reboot of the ‘Bluntman and Chronic‘ movie from being made.
First and foremost it is pure unadulterated fun, an unapologetic homage to all of Kevin Smith’s previous films, affectionately mocking nostalgia in movies nowadays, yet also a love letter to everything he loves and is special in his life, including people, among them his wife, daughter, and Jason Mewes. This was the first film he made after his heart attack and in his own words “It is my heart.”
From beginning to end it is laugh-out loud and at times brings tears to the eyes. The clue is in the title pretty much what to expect and that is what it delivers; he said on a number of occasions before its release that it will be the exact same film as “Jay and Silent Bob Strikes Again“, and for the most part it is. That is not to say there is no depth, it also has thoughtful, meditative, and reflective aspects.
Just like their alter-egos, Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes are “hetro life mates,” he has been there with “Mewes” through the very worst and best times of his life. Their unconditional friendship coming through in every film, never more so than here; running throughout is a genuinely sincere and honest subtext of their love for each other. Yes there are the expected “dick & fart” jokes, but most of all it has a whole lot of heart and soul.
Although comic book movies and Star Wars are not for everyone the references are very relatable because of the genuine passion shown for them. Made abundantly clear is the fact Smith is well aware that many other films and shows trade-in on nostalgia; throughout he pokes fun at it with a knowing wink that he too loves this nostalgia. To be fair he was among one of the first film-makers to reference superheroes and Star Wars, so it seems strange he is criticised for doing so again when he has worked for decades with DC & Marvel simply because he genuinely loves the comic books, etc.
As with every Kevin Smith film it is clear the entire cast had great fun, some reprising beloved characters and others making surprise cameos; this fun translates to the enjoyment.
The real standout after the titular duo is newcomer, as an adult, to the View Askewniverse world of Jay and Silent Bob, Harley Quinn Smith (Kevin Smith’s daughter). She more than holds her own with the experienced cast members, even stealing some of the biggest laughs and having some of the most emotional engaging moments, alongside Treshelle Edmond, Aparna Brielle and Alice Wen as her character’s friends. This is her sixth role, and second lead role, in a Kevin Smith film, having also appeared in “Jay and Silent Bob Strikes Back” (as Baby Silent Bob), “Jersey Girl“, “Clerks II“, “Tusk“, and “Yoga Hosers“. She is a really talented comedic actress, and has a great chemistry with Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith; there was no doubt she felt like the character she played. To mention some of the rest of the cast would ruin the surprises.
Kevin Smith announced in January 2020 that Jay and Silent Bob will return, “Mallrats 2 is now because Universal did [Jay and Silent Bob Reboot], they were like, ‘What do you want to do next? because they had a great time and I was like ‘We wanted to make Mallrats 2 a couple of years ago [and] you guys said ‘No.’ But we have this mall, we have this whole crew…’ and they were like, ‘Alright, write a two pager up. The whole thing is, there’s a big convention at the mall, so there’s plenty of places and opportunities [for things to happen]. It took a minute but we’re gonna make it happen.”
“Jay and Silent Bob Reboot” was made for fans and not the casual viewer; however there is absolutely no reason at all not to catch up with the previous films and shows of the dynamic duo beforehand if you have never seen them.
Love or hate “Jay and Silent Bob Reboot” has paved the way, with the impressive record-breaking box office returns, for more adventures with Jay and Silent Bob in the View Askewniverse.
I highly recommend “Jay and Silent Bob Reboot“, especially to fans, and I really cannot wait for Mallrats 2, and Clerks 3.