“Kevin Smith, the American comedy film director. He had a heart attack.”
‘He did? Never heard of him.”
‘What? He did Clerks and Mallrats and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and Dogma the one all the Catholics in America hated.”
“If I showed you a picture I’m sure you’d recognise him.”
“Oh that fat fuck who’s always crying about Star Wars.”
‘Yes. That guy!”
Kevin Smith’s new film Jay and Silent Bob Reboot will not be enjoyed by the guy I had this conversation with. It is nostalgic fan-service on an epic level which also takes the piss out of the same fanbase for wanting to watch another one of his movie collages of dick and drug jokes. It’s quite a balancing act but the average Kevin Smith fan (and I am one, snoogans!) will revel in it.
The movie felt a little cobbled together but with strong themes of parenthood and coming of age which twanged my heartstrings on several occasions. And it’s no surprise it feels a bit mashed together – Smith took only three weeks to shoot principal photography calling in favours from pretty much all the people who have appeared in his previous films.
When you’ve just almost died of a ‘widowmaker’ heart attack, lost a shot-tonne of weight and gone vegan, calling in favours is probably the easy part. And who could resist the man? A beyond-mid-life crisis stoner always on the verge of tears and thankful for everyday extra he gets to do the things he loves – making movies, recording podcasts and offering up unfiltered expert opinion on film and TV shows. How can you resist the call?
It looks like Mark Hamill, Liv Tyler and Alanis Morrissette did, and Bruce Willis won’t be asked back, but pretty much everyone else is there. I read that Ben Affleck took more convincing than others, but his scene with Chasing Amy co-star Joey Lauren Adams and Jason Mewes’s little kid, turned out great in the end. There’s even some interview footage of the late great Stan Lee during the credits. He was all set to make a reappearance as himself but sadly died before it could happen.
It’s an impressive cast list and the lack of a ‘hey kids it’s Mark Hamill’ moment aside, the film would not work as well as it does if someone notable from the canon were missing. Some scenes, like Matt Damon’s interlude reprising Loki from Dogma seem tacked on, but it feels okay in the how to make a patchwork American quilt editorial style. In places it’s beyond meta and feels like a love letter to fans. Like I say, if you’re not a fan you’ll probably think it’s dog shit. All I can say is go back and watch all the other films and come back when you’ve got an ‘education’. I’ll let you skip Cop Out if you want.
Here’s a breakdown of the film. Major spoilers ahoy!
The film opens outside the Quick Stop where Dante Hicks from Clerks (Brian O’Halloran) works. There’s a chicken store – Cock Smoker baked chicken sandwiches – next door which is a pretty poor disguise for a weed farm. The cops turn up and with a loudhailer get Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith) to come out with their hands up and in Jay’s case, penis tucked.
In the first of many many references to previous movies Dante complains that he wasn’t even supposed to be here today. Jay and Silent Bob are taken to court. The presiding judge is played by Craig Robinson (Zack and Miri Make a Porno) and their lawyer is Justin Long (Tusk). The lawyer gets them to sign a document before winning the case – saying it was a promotional stunt for a forthcoming movie.
He then immediately switches sides for another case, this time against Jay and Silent Bob. He represents a movie company who are planning to make a Bluntman and Chronic reboot called Bluntman V Chronic. Jay and Silent Bob discover that they just signed paperwork giving away their legal right to use their names which are now the intellectual (?) property of the film company.
Jay and Silent Bob go to the mall, which is now infested with real rats as opposed to Mallrats, and visit Brodie Bruce (Jason Lee) in his comic book store. Brodie fills them (and us) in about the Bluntman V Chronic movie, which is being made by Kevin Smith. Yes it’s meta!
Brodie tells them that they are shooting a key scene at Chronic-Con a convention dedicated to all things Jay and Silent Bob which takes place in a few days in Hollywood. If the duo can stop the scene being filmed, they can stop the film being made. Given their call to action our heroes get on the road to tinsel town. This is essentially a rehash of the plot of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and the joke is that we all know and don’t care.
On the way they stop off at a Mooby’s for burgers and while Jay sees his ex-girlfriend Justice (Shannon Elizabeth) presenting the weather on TV, Silent Bob has sex with his real-life wife Jennifer Schwalbach Smith playing the manager Miss McKenzie in the outlets’ toilets. There’s an obvious Clerks 2 connection and I think there’s a Yoga Hosers connection too, but you’ll have to forgive me if I miss a load of the easter eggs – I’m sure pretty much every scene has some connection to a previous Kevin Smith film.
Jay and Bob take a detour to look up Jay’s ex-girlfriend. Justice tells Jay that she is married and has a daughter called Millennium ‘Milly’ Faulken played by Smith’s daughter Harley Quinn Smith (Yoga Hosers, Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood). Justice tells him that he is Milly’s father but asks him not to tell her. They also meet Milly’s friend Soapy (Treshelle Edmond) who is deaf and just as handy with a knife as Milly. Justice’s wife returns home and they go off on a holiday. Rosario Dawson (Clerks 2) plays the wife.
Milly and Soapy want to go to Chronic-Con and force Jay and Silent Bob to take them. On the way they pick up Milly’s two other friends, Jihad (Aparna Brielle) and Chinese visitor Shan Yu (Alice Wen). They tell Jay that they want to visit Chronic-Con because Shan Yu is a big fan of Bluntman and Chronic. They steal a fan from a pedo Milly lures in with some online posts and there’s some shenanigans with drugs and the Ku Klux Klan, where Bob finally breaks his silence. It’s not as profound a moment as in other films but is essential to the plot that we know when forced, Bob will speak. Along the way Milly attributes her bad attitude to the absence of a father figure in her life.
They make it to Chronic-Con where Jay and Bob plan to ruin the shoot, and the girls want to be extras in the movie. Chris Hemsworth makes a fun appearance as a welcoming hologram and there’s a bunch of cameos from the likes of the cast of Clerks (Jay and Silent Bob turn black and white for a moment), the canned reality series Comic Book Men and a crowd of genuine Jay and Silent Bob fans.
Jay and Silent Bob find their way into an interview room where they meet by Holden McNeil (Ben Affleck), who has been recording a podcast with Alyssa Jones (Joey Lauren Adams). He tells them that he donated his sperm to Alyssa and her wife (Virginia Smith) and he co-parents the child, Amy. He tells them, in what are obviously Smith’s words about daughter Harley Quinn, how parenthood has changed his life although he is still ‘chasing Amy’. Jay realises that he should go after his daughter Milly and forget about trying to stop the film. Meanwhile Milly and the girls just miss the call to be in the scene of the movie being film at the convention.
After a few DC references, Holden gives Jay and Bob VIP access badges, which grants the duo, Milly and her friends access to a panel with director Kevin Smith (Kevin Smith!). Smith shows his adoring fans a clip from Bluntman V Chronic starring Val Kilmer as Bluntman (kind of reprising his role as Batman) and Melissa Benoist (Supergirl). The clip pauses just as Cock-Knocker is about to make his entrance. I assume if Mark Hamill would have been available, the clip would’ve carried on a while.
For the first time, oddly, Milly notices that Silent Bob looks a lot like Smith. She sneaks backstage and knocks out Smith. Bob disguises himself as Smith and comes back on stage and asks that the girls come up on stage. Being exactly where she wants to be, Shan Yu reveals herself to be an evil Russian spy intent on killing the real Kevin Smith in front of his fans and live on the internet. Silent Bob is thrown out of the hall and Shan Yu takes control of the crowd with the help of agents disguised as Cock-Knockers henchmen.
Jay finally reveals to Milly that he is her father. Rather than it being a silly reference to Star Wars (don’t worry there’s plenty already elsewhere in the film) it is quite a touching scene. Meanwhile, Silent Bob steals a large metal ‘Iron Bob’ suit which bears an uncanny resemblance to the first Iron Man suit made by Tony Stark so he can bust out of his desert prison in the Marvel film. I’m assuming that due to his studio connections Smith is unlikely to be sued (although in the scene he jokingly quips that it might happen). Iron Bob leads a riot among the fans and defeats Shan Yu and her henchmen.
In the final scene, which Screenwriting for Dummies 101 might call the establishment of the new status quo, we find Jay and Silent Bob outside the Quick Stop. Bob stands off to one side and lets Jay talk to Milly. He tells her about his and Bob’s adventures, and how he met her mother. Dante tries to open Quick Stop but the shop’s shutters are jammed again. Jay tells Milly that for 25 years, he and Bob have been putting chewing gum in the locks.
At the end of the film it seems like Smith could, if he felt like it, stop making ‘View Askew-niverse’ films now. He’s done enough. Some might say too much. I kind of hope he doesn’t. I love this shit.
Image (c) Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash Inc. (I think). I’m calling ‘fair use’ on this one. If anyone disagrees let me know and I’ll remove it.