Review: Jay and Silent Bob Reboot Gives You Everything You Expect But Will Also Surprise You
Kevin Smith suffered a type of heart attack in early 2018 which takes the lives of 80 percent of its victims and survived. Filled with a renewed sense of purpose, he set out to make a movie in which he could revisit the characters and actors he’d worked with for most of his career. Jay and Silent Bob Reboot is a difficult movie for me to review, simply because I love these characters. To be honest, I didn’t see Clerks until many years after it came out. My first Kevin Smith movie was Mallrats, which I rented because it had none other than Stan Lee on the cover. At the time in pop culture, comic book kids were a stereotype: nerdy loners and generally terrible people. That movie took a different approach.
Kevin Smith’s films can be hit-or-miss where mainstream audiences are concerned. Outside of Clerks, Chasing Amy, and Dogma, his work is mostly appreciated by a core group of fans. As a prominent fanboy himself, Kevin Smith feels like “one of us” to those slackers in the 1990s who wanted to live their dreams. No matter how one looks at it, he’s a success in that regard. He makes films, maintains a successful podcasting company, and branches out into other areas from Funko Pop collectibles to his own weed strains. Yet, after he nearly died, he began to think about his legacy. Not wanting his last film to be the quirky Yoga Hosers, Smith decided to play with his favorite “toys” once more, while also making a film that pokes fun at reboot culture.
For Fans of Kevin Smith, This Is a Peek at the View Askewineverse You’ve Been Waiting For
Image via screengrab
Full disclosure for the purposes of this Jay and Silent Bob Reboot review, I am a fan. I enjoy almost all of Kevin Smith’s movies and previously reviewed Jay Mewes’ directorial debut Madness in the Method. As someone who has been watching these characters for over 20 years, Jay and Silent Bob Reboot is lovely. Raymond Carver had a theory about fiction. He believed that a good story was like opening and closing a window onto another world. Once the story was over, the characters live on, just without us observing them. That’s what’s happening in this film. Smith reopened the windows on a number of his favorite characters, filling the film with tiny sequels to his other movies.
For example, Matt Damon’s Loki makes an appearance in the movie. His role is very small and not really relevant to the larger plot of the film. It’s almost akin to a Family Guy cutaway gag. Still, for about 45 seconds, we get a tiny sequel to Dogma. The climax of Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, which we will discuss more later in the review, is a five-minute sequel to Chasing Amy. The film, much like Clerks, is one that seems made more for the director than the audience. As Smith says in interviews, this film is like an extended version of the final scene from Big Fish, where everyone important in the story shows up one last time.
An Objective Review of Jay and Silent Bob Reboot
Image via Saban Films
Naturally, Jay and Silent Bob Reboot plays for fans of the View Askewinverse, but what about an objective review of the film? How would this movie play for a first-time viewer or someone who, perhaps, has fond-but-vague memories of a previous Jay and Silent Bob movie? Simply put, this film does not expect anyone who sees it to not already know who these characters are. This film is built on the detail from Chasing Amy that Holden McNeil based a comic book on the likenesses of Jay and Silent Bob. Why there is a comic book property based on them and what the original movie about them was are questions not answered in this movie.
The comedy is, honestly, hit-or-miss. Some gags, such as Silent Bob extensively tapping on a smartphone only to show a giant emoji fell flat even with an audience of Kevin Smith fans. Other gags, which I won’t spoil, sent the theater into hysterics. Smith and company shot the film very quickly and cheaply in New Orleans, and it shows. There are some pacing problems and, arguably, needless asides. Still, at the core of this silly stoner movie full of curse words and dirty jokes is a story with real heart.
Everyone in the film is older now, some with families. Shannon Elizabeth’s character from Jay and Silent Bob Strikes Back has a daughter named Millie, played by Harley Quinn Smith. Seeing cinema’s perennial 13-year-old boy, Jay, try to behave like a responsible adult and father is more of an arc than anyone originally thought the character deserved. What makes Jay and Silent Bob fun, mostly, is that they are eternally unchanged. Yet, facing the choice of staying the same or being a father is the emotional cornerstone of what is a very silly movie.
Jay and Silent Bob Reboot’s Best Scene Almost Missed the Movie
Image via screengrab
Kevin Smith said that the scene he filmed with estranged friend Ben Affleck is one of the best scenes he’s ever written or been involved with. He’s not wrong. Reprising his role as Bluntman and Chronic creator Holden McNeil, Affleck delivers a performance that shows his growth as an artist in the 20-plus years since he and Smith first hooked up in Mallrats. It’s unbelievable that this scene didn’t exist until the final few days of production. The film is an effective satire of reboot and nostalgia-based culture while indulging in that same thing. The scene with Holden, talking to Jay about growing up and being a father, takes that from a fun gag to a salient commentary on when to let go of the past in favor of the future. Without this scene, the movie would not be as good as it is.
Ben Affleck, however, wasn’t supposed to be in the film. Smith has told this story plenty on the press tour, but this is the best, crying-est version.
On October 17, fans can catch a double-feature of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and Jay and Silent Bob Reboot at any theater that hosts Fathom Events. If you missed your chance to see it now, you can catch the movie when Smith and Mewes bring it on the road. The Reboot Roadshow brings the film into 62 cities, where fans can watch with the stars and then participate in a Q&A afterwards. When the two are in town, other theaters will feature the film as well.
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Featured image via screengrab
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.