Back in 1994, Kevin Smith sold everything he owned and maxed out a bunch of credit cards to enable himself to make what he thought would be the first and only movie of his career – Clerks. With this in mind, the indie director did what most of us would have done, he cast himself as well as all his friends and told a story which he felt was funny and close to home. This apparent one-off would turn out to be the spark which set ablaze the View Askewniverse, a fictional universe (before Marvel made it cool) which most of Smith’s movies would be set it and often included the man himself in the role of Silent Bob alongside his real life friend Jay – played by Jason Mewes. Now some 26 years after Clerks and 14 years since we last saw Jay & Silent Bob on screen, they’re back! And much like Clerks, this has the feeling of a movie which isn’t for the critics, isn’t for the purists, hell this isn’t even for a general audience… this movie was made by Kevin Smith for Kevin Smith and, more importantly, for every single person who has been along on his journey. If you count yourself as one of those people then you’re in for an amazing experience, if not then you may want to end your interest here.
It’s worth noting that I’ll be avoiding spoilers but if it’s in the trailers then I count it as fair game! So if you’ve purposely stayed away from trailers then I recommend you avoid this review too!
I should start by pointing out that this review may be a little biased. I count myself as a huge Kevin Smith & Jason Mewes fan who as well as owning all the movies in the View Askewniverse, also regularly attends the live podcasts and stand ups which the two regularly perform nowadays. There’s also the fact that you may not be reading this review if it wasn’t for Kevin Smith as some of his speeches during his live shows have inspired me to do what makes me happy so here I am! With all that in mind there’s no doubt that this movie was made for somebody like me and there were very few references, nods or in-jokes which I didn’t get (of which there are a lot!). If you go into this movie without much knowledge of what has come before or maybe even where the two actors are in their real lives right now, then chances are you may not find this funny, in fact you’ll probably find most of it annoying and self serving. At the end of the day though, this is fan service at its best and I loved it.
The story told here is very self aware. They essentially retell the story of Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back while making fun of Hollywood’s obsession with remakes and reboots along the way. What’s the difference between a remake and a reboot you ask? I suggest you watch yourself and let Brodie explain that one! We get to meet back up with many of our favourites from the View Askewniverse including Matt Damon, Shannon Elizabeth, Rosario Dawson, Craig Robinson, Justin Long, the aforementioned Jason Lee as Brodie and of course – Ben Affleck (he was the bomb in phantoms yo!) As well as so many others which I’ll avoid speaking about as I don’t think they were included in any of the marketing. Smith isn’t just relying on old faces though, cameos from the likes of How High’s Method Man & Redman and Hollywood superstar Chris Hemsworth are hilarious additions. Outside of cameos, we also get introduced to some brand new permanent cast members with the most prominent being the addition of Harley Quinn Smith as Millennium Falcon (hehe) who is of course the Daughter of Kevin Smith. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that she puts on a masterful performance because she doesn’t, but neither do most the cast in fairness. Oscar winning performances aren’t what this film is going for and neither should it. What Harley Quinn Smith does represent though is the more emotional coming of age side to this hilarious tale.
As well as retelling the story of Jay & Silent Bob going back to Hollywood to stop another blockbuster movie, we get the side story of Jay getting to meet Millennium (Milly), the daughter he never knew he had. By telling this story, Smith takes a risk by not going all out stoner comedy and the reward is the most mature story he has told since Chasing Amy. Now there’s a risk that some viewers would be put off by this but I think the majority will be on board with the direction in which he takes the story. Yes we’re all here for the funny fourth wall breaking jokes but these guys have gotten older and so have their audience, and Smith never loses sight of this. The journey of parenthood and growing up is right there alongside all the usual dick jokes and it really worked for me. There are one or two genuinely emotional moments, which if you’ve followed both guys stories up until this point through both the View Askewniverse and their real life stories, will likely catch you off guard and get you a little choked up just like it did for me. There’s really something to be said for a dumb stoner movie which starts off with Jay showing off his hilarious heart-shaped shaven pubes but has you feeling quite emotional over these two idiots you’ve essentially grown up with come the end.
If I was reviewing Jay & Silent Bob Reboot purely from a critical perspective then some poor acting performances and a nonsensical story along with a weird third act would likely have me at around a 5, but I can’t do that. The truth is that this is exactly what I want from a Jay & Silent Bob movie in 2019/20 (depending if you managed to see it on their roadshow or have to wait for the January 20th blu ray release like most). It nails the sort of comedy you come to expect from the duo while also adding in an extra layer of emotional maturity which fits in perfectly well with the aging main characters as well as the audience which has been there since day one. Kevin Smith has basically lived his dream and accomplished all of this alongside his family and best friends and you’d have to be pretty cold hearted to not feel happy for the man. What Smith goes on to do next is yet to be seen (Clerks 3 please!!) but if this was how the View Askewniverse and Jay & Silent Bob’s story was to end then I’d be more than happy.
I give Jay & Silent Bob Reboot