“There’s a script for this movie?” – Jason Biggs in “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back”
“Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back” is one of those films in which it is required that viewers possess a working knowledge of the Kevin Smith movie-verse which includes his previous four works. It incorporates a plotline from the very first film “Clerks,” uses a large portion of previous characters/actors, including ones playing themselves, and not only breaks the fourth wall, but the fifth and sixth as well. Actually it quickly demolishes any walls between the audience and the viewer (with the same amount of force used in the “We’re Not Gonna Take It” MTV video), uses enough cuss words to choke an elephant and even repeatedly disses Miramax, the company that produced the film. (I can’t recall if there’s any potshots at Harvey Weinstein, but there is a hooker joke aimed at Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, who play themselves.)
A quick run-down on how it lines up with the previous quartet of movies is difficult, but nevertheless I will try.
“Clerks” is a film that if you see someone at your place of work mutter, “I wasn’t even supposed to be here today,” they have probably viewed at least once. In “Clerks,” convenience store employee, Brian Halloran, has a bad day at work, not helped by the drug dealing duo, Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Smith himself) hanging out outside the door. It turns out that they were brought there as young kids by their moms and never retrieved, so there’s one mystery solved. After Brian gets a restraining order, the two are forced to move on, so they head for a comic book store where they discover that a Hollywood movie is being made from the comic book strip characters they are based on, created by Jason Lee in “Chasing Amy.” However, the duo is being stiffed when it comes to reaping royalties. Anyway, after receiving a crash course in Internet use, Jason and Kevin log on to read movie reviews and are enraged that most are negative, if not downright derisive. Thus they decide that it’s time for a ROAD TRIP.
Oh, and have I mentioned that Kevin’s character is mute? Now having three mute characters on a road trip in the adorable Disney film “The Incredible Journey” wasn’t a drawback because there were voiceovers for the two dogs and cat, but here Kevin relies on body language at which he is excellent. We do get to hear him speak later in the film, but for most of it, Jason does the heavy lifting voice-wise – and often manages to completely floor whoever he’s speaking with (or at) with the jaw-dropping amount of vulgarity. But some characters manage to parry back, which includes the four young women (Eliza Dushku, Shannon Elizabeth, Ali Larter and Jennifer Smith) who give Jason and Kevin a ride en route to Hollywood. They’re on a journey of their own, a double jewel heist/liberation of test animals at a lab, and after their first fall guy (Seann William Scott) decamps, they happily recruit Jason and Kevin. The quest goes awry, however, resulting in Kevin and Jason taking custody of an orangutan, which puts them in the crosshairs of a Federal Wildlife Marshal (Will Ferrell), which requires that they pose as a gay couple in order to outwit Will. Eventually, they do make it to Hollywood.
(Note: Jay and Silent Bob are not actually gay but self-described “hetero life partners.” The joke is at the expense of the characters, not actually gay people, according to no less an authority than Kevin Smith himself. Watching Jason pronounce multi-syllabic words, as opposed to profanity, is in itself hilarious, regardless of what they are, trust me.)
Once on the Miramax lot, Kevin and Jason manage to track down Jason Biggs and James Van Der Beek, who are playing the movie roles Bluntman and Chronic, based on the Jay/Silent Bob comic book duo. With help from the orangutan, they receive a sound drubbing, and then the two meet Chris Rock, who is playing a race-conscious director of the “Bluntman” movie. They also meet Ben Affleck and Matt Damon who are shooting a sequel called “Good Will Hunting 2” (Tagline “It’s Hunting Season.”) Ben and Matt reference “Dogma,” another Smith movie. Oh, the hilarity. But soon all the “crackas with guns” as Chris puts it, descend on the set, causing mass confusion. However, all ends well with a performance of Morris Day and the Time. Because why not?
(Second note: Kevin Smith did make a sequel to “Clerks,” which has a scene featuring a barnyard animal that caused members of my audience to walk out. Actually they left way before that scene, but the rest of those who stayed had a blast. It’s tempting to imagine more sequels such as “Jay and Silent Bob Visit the White House,” or perhaps “Jay and Silent Bob in Outer Space,” but because only Kevin is truly capable of capturing the zaniness of these characters, these suggestions are best relegated to fanfiction.)