Jay and Silent Bob Reboot
Updated: Feb 9, 2020
25 years ago, Kevin Smith burst onto the filmmaking scene with the low-budget, black and white comedy Clerks. Somehow, he was able to spin that off into a franchise of sorts about New Jersey residents, using the stoner duo of Jay and Silent Bob to connect the stories together. In 2001, the pair got their own vehicle, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. They returned to the screen once more in 2006’s Clerks II, then Smith decided to go in a different, ultimately less successful, direction with his career. Now they are back again in the aptly named Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, an incredibly self-indulgent piece of fan-service taking shots at reboots, Hollywood franchises and Kevin Smith’s filmography.
It is impossible for me to believe this could be enjoyed by anyone who has not seen at least a few of Smith’s first five movies, probably multiple times each. Kevin Smith is not a particularly good director, yet he understands this world as well as humanly possible. Everyone involved seems to be having a great time, making this come off like a gift for his fans. As a fan, I am not sure what more I could have expected. This has been made for someone like me and I mostly appreciate it.
For the uninitiated (or if you have forgotten), here is some information necessary to follow along. In 1997’s Chasing Amy, Jay and Silent Bob were the inspiration for comic-book superheroes Bluntman and Chronic which was created by their writer friend Holden. In Strike Back, the comic was being turned into a movie and they traveled to Hollywood to prevent its completion. In Reboot, they learn Bluntman and Chronic is being rebooted and road trip to Hollywood to stop it. Again.
Obviously, this plot is intentionally silly and not meant to be closely studied. It is intended for fans who will get the references and be happy to see not only the title characters, but also cameos from many faces familiar from Smith’s work (actors and characters; there are a ton of cameos). He knowingly repeats himself, while making fun of himself for doing it, for 98 minutes (plus outtakes and deleted scenes throughout the entire end credits). This is both annoying and weirdly charming.
Jay is still a remarkably vulgar and stupid pothead; Silent Bob is still his mute sidekick. Smith has changed nothing about them. There is some attempt to have Jay grow up after reconnecting with an ex-girlfriend, though it is not very convincing. Even with that forced bit of heart, this is absolutely the kind of juvenile adventure you would expect from these two. Jason Mewes remains lovably obnoxious as the enthusiastically dim Jay. Kevin Smith gives his usual surprised reaction shots as Silent Bob. They have not matured at all which, again, should please fans. This is the extremely rare case where I do not really want depth or originality. I never say this normally, but playing the hits is the only thing that would have been acceptable here. Anything else would have died a horrible death.
Jay and Silent Bob Reboot is pretty challenging to review. The filmmaking, writing and performances are not the point here. This is about spending time reminiscing in the company of old friends. Granted, they are friends who make way too many dick jokes, but at least Smith toned down the gay jokes a little bit. I cannot wholeheartedly recommend it; it is not good, per se, it is awkwardly structured, derivative, misses nearly as often as it hits and will be practically unintelligible to newcomers. However, what it sets out to do is delight fans by bringing back beloved characters just as we remembered them and include as many references to previous movies as possible. I was approximately 65% delighted. I would call this a 1 out of 5 for non-fans. I am a fan, albeit a slightly conflicted one so, officially, this gets a 3¼ out of 5.
Jason Mewes as Jay
Kevin Smith as Silent Bob
Harley Quinn Smith as Milly
Treshelle Edmond as Soapy
Alice Wen as Shan Yu
Aparna Brielle as Jihad
Written and Directed by Kevin Smith