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Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back

dir: Kevin Smith
[img_assist|nid=1070|title=This film is about as tragic as these costumes|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=367|height=553]
The question burning on everyone's lips is not "Will I be selected for Big Brother II?" or "Just how does someone sow their lips together?", it is moreso, considering the grand opening of the aforementioned Kevin Smith film in Australian cinemas yesterday, that question remains "Is Jay and Silent Bob Strikes Back better than Dogma?"

The answer, like any good cocktail, is mixed at best. Smith has taken the sacred duty of satisfying the dictates of his ego to ridiculous extremes, to the point where he now has made a film about his other films, a self-referential exercise in self groin rubbing that represents an increasingly tightening spiral of self-indulgence. Couple that with a breathtaking amount of pettiness on his part, and you are left with a bloated,
embarrassing film that occasionally works brilliantly, yet more often than not stinks like week-old entrails in the sun.

Not content with the screen time he and his good friend Jason Mewes have had in the past, he's decided to up the amount of time they appear to the point where they are practically in every scene, with hilarious results ensuing. An arguably simple formula can be applied to Kevin Smith films, that being the greater the
amount of time Silent Bob and Jay appear on screen, the worse the end result.

The main reason being, again arguably, that Jay's brand of constant profanity and excess is hilarious in small
doses, but when exposed to it on a constant basis for nigh on two hours, it becomes wearisome. The same goes for the taciturn Kevin Smith playing Silent Bob, whose shtick of only speaking for maximum impact works only when you haven't had to watch him ham constantly for the film's entire duration. Neither of them are particularly good actors, but Kevin Smith is easily the worst actor in the film, which would be okay if he wasn't in every single fucking scene.

That said, this film has a hit to miss ratio regarding its gags and film parodies of about 1 to 4, similar to the equally uninspired yet occasionally spleen burstingly funny Scary Movie. Smith has thrown in everything including the kitchen sink into this film, hoping that something sticks.

The film's saving grace is certainly the cameos, for which the writing and the humour level ups itself several notches, to the point where it shows what a poor decision making process ensues every time Smith contructs one of his films. The large number of cameos of people alternately playing themselves or characters
is staggering, and is a testament to either the great love people have of Smith's particular brand of humour and his films, or the tremendous desperation of people who will do anything to get their heads on camera, even if it's only for moments at a time.

Cameos alone don't a decent flick make, even if there are more than in Altman's The Player. Listing them would be pointless, although it's amazing how the humour level and skill involved is 'upped' every time its an actual decent actor delivering the lines. Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Jason Lee, Jason Biggs, James Van Der Beek, Wes Craven, Shannen Doherty, Mark Hamill, a fucking orangutan all get great gags, and really show how brilliant anyone else apart from Jay and Silent Bob are in this film.

There is certainly a plot, stupid as it is: Jay and Silent Bob find out that a comic book based on them (Bluntman and Chronic) is being turned into a major Miramax movie. Here, the plot breaks down right from the start. They decide, not because of the lack of money thrown their way but because of the fact that people on the internet are saying nasty things about them, that they are going to travel from Red Bank, New Jersey to Hollywood in order to wreck the film, to stop internet nerds from making fun of them. And people accuse ME of smoking crack.

The internet, something which Jay and Silent Bob have never come across previous to this, is helpfully explained to them by Ben Affleck 'playing' the character from Chasing Amy of Holden McNeill. He explains that "The internet is where geeks get together to bitch about films and also to share pornography."
From there he proceeds to show the less than dynamic duo the opinions of some message board posters saying that Jay and Silent Bob are morons and deserve to be fucked up the arse, and they're crap and things are better when they're around less etc etc.

Gee, venting much Kevin? You'd think that after mentioning it in the first few minutes, Smith would let it go. Ah, foolish, naive reader, how little knowledge you have of the true depths of the 'artist's' ego. Smith mentions it another fourteen thousand times throughout the course of the film, having made this film not, as he claims, to be a love letter to the fans who've stuck with him for the last five films, but as a curious
form of revenge against people who've posted nasty things about him online.

You may think I'm exagerrating, but I am not: Smith uses much of the film's length as an opportunity to attack the people who have had the temerity to write a critical opinion of the man or the films he's made on the internet. It's not professional critics per se (I think), but moreso the punters who've abused him
online, whom he categorises as no-life motherfuckers living in their parent's basements.

Smith shows a level of pettiness that boggles the mind. They actually go to the trouble of reading out several people's posts and their online names during the course of the film. And the film's finale, whilst mildly humourous, is a staggering display of egotistical wish fulfillment which left me shaking my head from side to side. Smith certainly comes across as an enraged baby trying to vent his infantile rage on those who have wronged him.

The magic doesn't end there of course. Lacking enough new ideas to flesh out another film, Smith pads out what I shall loosely refer to as the 'story' with multiple references to his other films, in a self-congratulatory circle jerk meant to show us, the paying plebs, just how great it is to be in the movie business. The self-referential gags alternate between mildly amusing and flat out lame.

Jay and Silent Bob begin travelling across the States in order to get to Hollywood to sabotage the film being made, and along the way have several hilarious adventures. George Carlin, who previously played Cardinal Glick in Dogma, plays a hitchhiker who explains the real way to get around on the open road is to offer the drivers a certain incentive. His is a great cameo, which lasts all of two seconds. Carrie Fisher plays a station
wagon driving nun, and is in a great cameo that lasts all of two seconds. I could cut and paste that phrase for the next five hundred words.

At some point that I shall never forgive Kevin Smith for, the film temporarily turns into a warped version of a Bon Jovi ZZ Top film clip, as the true extent of his immaturity is ejaculated forth. Four women are introduced into the story, one of whom has the dubious honour of being the 'love' interest for Jay. Shannon Elizabeth, 'famous' for getting naked in American Pie has the onerous duty not only of having to tongue kiss Jay onscreen, but of having to talk and smile at the same time, something which you can visibly see causes her to strain. Her level of acting skill can best be described as 'porno' quality, for which I mean during the non-sexual conversational bits about "taking dication" or "my what a big gear stick you have".

She is shocking. As part of a four girl crew of International Jewel Thieves masquerading as Animal Liberationists, she still isn't the worst actor in the flick. Her sole purpose is to exist as an object at which Jay has to aim his dick at. The other three girls are Eliza Dushku (who plays Faith on Buffy The Vampire
Slayer, and plays Faith here as well), some blonde bimbo, and Kevin Smith's own wife, Jennifer Schwalbach, who is an unbelievably hot woman but not much of an actress. Still, I can sincerely understand why he has to have her in every film from now on until the end of time. I would not be able to say no to the woman on any level.

I can see how the decision process must have occurred regarding having Shannon Elizabeth in the film. Let's step into the way back machine...

[Friday night a few years back, New Jersey. Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes are sitting around smoking bongs and watching a video copy of 'American Pie']

Jason: Man, look at them titties, that Shannon Elizabeth is hot.
Kevin: Mmm yes she certainly is [takes pull on bong]
Jason: What I would give to pull those panties off and give her some of Jay's smokin' meat hook of love. Nootch.
Kevin: You know she would never touch you, she's prime pussy, she's not going to let a junkie like you sniff her panties let alone fuck her.
Jason: What the fuck do you know you tubby bitch? I am the God of Love and all the bitches know it [has arms raised making devil signs] They give up the clam whenever Jay's around. Bong, snootchies [roughly grabs bong off Kevin, lights it up]

Time passes. They get up to the bit in American Pie where Shannon Elizabeth is pretty much naked and playing with herself on Jason Biggs' bed, watched by multitudes on the internet.

Jason Mewes does little to hide the fact that his miniscule erection threatens to poke itself through his Adidas tracksuit pants. Used to this behaviour, Kevin says nothing.

Jason: Maybe you're right, she's like big in Hollywood now and shit, probably hob knobbing and gobbling with all the other fine bitches. How the fuck would I get to even kiss her and grab her ass?
Kevin: What if I made a film, and we cast her in it, and then she has to kiss you and let you squeeze her cheeks.
Jason: Bong!!!!! You de man. I knew there'd finally be something good out of you making all these shitty films. Snoogens.

And thus is history made.

Jay and Silent Bob get mixed up in animal liberation diamond stealing shenanigans, and become Wanted Criminals for being terrorists in some group called C.L.I.T. It's less funny than it sounds.

Eventually they get to Hollywood in time to be extras in the sequel to Good Will Hunting, where Ben Affleck and Matt Damon play themselves, making fun of each other's recent film choices (very funny), and confront the two people that are playing them in the film version of Bluntman and Chronic: Jason Biggs and James Van Der Beek, of American Pie and Dawson's Creek fame. Both again take the piss out of themselves and their careers, which is extremely funny. If only Kevin Smith was able to genuinely poke fun at himself as much as he likes others to, perhaps he wouldn't take himself so seriously and we wouldn't have to deal with his worst excesses on the screen.

Mistaken for stunt doubles, and then mistaken for the actual actors in the Bluntman film directed by a viciously reverse racist Chris Rock, they end up fighting Mark Hamill, who plays a villain called Cock Knocker. He has a very large fist, for some reason. When Mark Hamill is introduced into the story, the words
"Mark Hamill, Applause Please" or something similar appears on the screen. The dingbats in the cinema I watched it in yesterday actually applauded. Pavlov and his puppies would have been proud.

A light sabre fight ensues, using some down market effects out of the Star Wars and Crouching Tiger, where Kevin Smith fulfills a childhood dream of fighting Mark Hamill on screen. Be sure to keep some hankies handy to wipe yourself down after Kevin is done playing with himself.

Mark Hamill would be the first to admit that he has no real film career now. Here he hams it up giving up what little dignity he may have still possessed, though considering the abundance of shit that he's been in since his heyday, that's not saying much. He's pretty funny, because he's so pathetic. The film has a stupid 'climax' that goes on and on, and includes every cliche from the last thirty years of film. And is not funny.

The film ends in a fairly celebratory fashion, with pretty much every member of Kevin Smith's circle of family, friends and former actors in any of his films getting together to say how bad the Bluntman and Chronic film is. You get to see characters from all his former films at the screening say how crap the film is. Very funny cameos. Shame about the rest of the film. The ending revenge on Smith's detractors is ludicrously petty,
and the bizarre inclusion of no hit wonders Morris Day and the Time left me even more bemused.

Is it a decent film? Not by a long stretch of the imagination. There is so much bad story telling, ordinary direction and lame gags to make it one of Smith's worst, by my reckoning. There are painfully lame bits of slapstick that simply do not work, and patently stupid sequences where people are forced to make
themselves look retarded. It is moderately better than Dogma, in that it more genuinely funny gags and has nothing of seriousness to be taken in too po-faced a manner. But it also has nothing of any great or minor importance to say except for how glad Kevin Smith is to be making movies, and how grateful he is that we get to pay to watch him masturbate for an hour and a half.

As a long time fan of his films, yes, I did get all the references to the other films, and did genuinely laugh out loud many times. But I also had to stifle the urge to leave the theatre at several points. I may have had fairly high expectations for someone who is admittedly still stuck at an infantile level of development. I swear, Smith's film career could have been improved a hundredfold years ago if only his parents had managed to toilet train the fucker properly.

This film should only really be watched by Kevin Smith fans or very drunk/stoned people, which let's face, are one and the same.

6 has-beens and neverwases out of 10

"Boo Boo Kitty Fuck" - words of romantic love, JSBSB