Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back

By now the never-ending stream of appallingly bad films derived from Saturday Night Live skits should have provided more than ample proof of the entertainment theorem: What’s Funny For Three Minutes Is Not Always Funny For Ninety. To Kevin Smith’s discredit, he apparently hasn’t been paying attention. In Smith’s previous films, the characters Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (writer-director Smith himself) appear mostly as seasoning. They appear periodically, like a stoner Greek chorus randomly commenting on the action. But to make them the sole focus of a story would appear to be a guarantee of SNL spin-off type dreck, and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back is just that – it’s an interminable oral sex and flatulence joke masquerading as a movie.

The atom-thin catchall of a plot revolves around an old stand-by: a cross-country jaunt. Jay and Silent Bob are livid when they learn that the "Bluntman and Chronic" comic book (for which they were the inspiration and received royalties) is being made into a movie and they’re not getting a taste of the action, so they set off for Hollywood to stop the film. On their route to LA they encounter a hitchhiker (George Carlin) who offers them oral sex tips, a Nun (Carrie Fisher) to whom they offer oral sex, and a group of fabulous (but flatulent) babe jewel thieves. You may be able to sense a pattern here. The additional presence of both Will Farrell and a orangutan in the cast is a rather big clue that this is not Remains of the Day, or for that matter even Dude, Where’s My Car?

Along the way various films and TV series are skewered, from The Fugitive and E.T. to Scooby-Doo and Planet of the Apes. But the parodies are brief at best; and when Smith really wants to go for a big laugh he always falls back on the classics: fellatio and farts. Every character in the film drops an F-bomb every few nanoseconds and Smith’s direction is as flat and clueless as ever, resulting in a string of lame setups and predictably groin-directed punchlines marginally glued together with no connection other than their offensiveness. Smith also takes a few potshots at internet movie opinion sites, but even his attempt to skewer that admittedly easy target is tinged with his tee-hee high school study hall attitude – one site that Jay and Silent Bob are shown surfing is called "Harry Balls’ Poop Shoot." The only things missing in this script are jokes about running refrigerators and Prince Albert in a can.

The story’s IQ rises a bit when Our Lads finally reach Hollywood and they start terrorizing Miramax Studios. Here’s where Smith aims his barbs more precisely and personally and the parodies start to work, as he shows backstage developments on the set of Good Will Hunting 2 – Hunting Season, with Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and Gus Van Zant (shown counting his money) in on the gag. And it’s here where the dialog in Smith’s script starts to approach the level of verbal sparks found in some of his previous films. But every time the film starts rising above the whoopie-cushion level, Smith will trot out something like Mark Hamill playing a character called Cock Knocker who specializes in groin punches, and the humor level drops right back into the fourth grade.

Even with a few witty jabs sparsely distributed towards its conclusion, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back is a major disappointment, crass and juvenile. It’s like a dinner guest who’s been telling crude racial jokes for an hour but then suddenly blurts out a quip worthy of the Algonquin Round Table. You may eventually laugh, but you’ll still wonder why you invited such an embarrassment into your life in the first place.

– Bob Aulert