Back Add a Comment Share:
Facebook Button
In the latest in my series of View Askew reviews I’m breaking with tradition and skipping to the final instalment in the New Jersey series, the litigiously titled Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back. The film, the last to feature the characters of Jay and Silent Bob, is a riotous comedy that pokes fun at most of Smith’s detractors. Is it as good as the rest of the films in the New Jersey series? Read on...

Feature


As you might expect from a film carrying the title Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back, the film centres on those lovable stoners who have popped up in all of Kevin Smith’s movies to date. Unlike those movies, Jay and Bob are no longer just supporting characters, but now have the whole film to themselves.

What the $*%@ is the Internet?!?
The gist of the plot is as follows. Jay and Silent Bob discover that Miramax pictures are making a live action adaptation of Bluntman and Chronic, the comic book heroes they form the character basis for (see Smith’s Chasing Amy for further details). Around this time they also discover the Internet, or more specifically that the Internet has been used to roundly slate the upcoming film, and both the characters of Bluntman and Chronic.

Even though they’re not strictly the ones being lambasted in the posts, the duo take it all very personally and head off to Hollywood to stop production of the film, hoping to put an end to the internet slandering. Along the way they encounter all manner of strange individuals, including a liberal minded hitchhiker, an all girl gang of international jewel thieves, an orang-utan, an inept Federal Wildlife Marshall and virtually every character that has ever appeared in a View Askew movie.

It’s fairly clear from the offset that this is a movie for the View Askew fans. It is also a movie for the View Askew inner circle, with many in-jokes and a great deal of self-referential humour. This is fine for a while, but it starts to grate as things go on, especially when the on-screen characters pause to play to the audience, as happens on a number of occasions. The majority of the characters from the 'Askewniverse' come back for this final instalment, including Dante, Randal, Brodie, Banky, Holden McNeal, Alyssa and Trisha Jones, Hooper, Walt the Fanboy and Steve-Dave.

All of this of course means the return of pretty much everyone who has ever appeared in a Smith movie, including Jason Lee, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Joey Lauren Adams, Renee Humphreys, Dwight Ewell, George Carlin, Chris Rock and even Shannen Doherty. There is also a huge cast of new characters, with some fine comedic performances from Will Ferrell, Eliza Dushku, Ali Larter, Jason Biggs, James Van Der Beek and Sean William Scott. The real star of the show is Jason Mewes, who manages to carry off the role of leading man quite admirably considering he’s not a ‘real’ actor. He may be a foul-mouthed little smack head, but he also happens to be very amusing. He’s certainly better than Jeremy London was in Mallrats…

There’s also no doubting that the film has some genuinely hilarious moments. Scenes where Smith blasts his critics, with references to the infamous ‘Magnoliafan’, are great. In fact, there is a fair amount of Internet humour in general throughout the film. The ‘Hunting Season’ segment, featuring Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, is also a riot, with the pair lampooning their hit movie ‘Good Will Hunting’. There’s also some far more subtle humour, such as a poster for a new Miramax film entitled ‘Moonraper’, starring Affleck of course! Other memorable scenes include a Planet of the Apes pastiche, and a fantastic climax featuring a lightsaber fight that puts the one in the original Star Wars movie to shame!

Dribble...
Unfortunately, in spite of its positive elements, the film failed to hold my attention throughout. There are a number of sequences that drag on for too long, and the aforementioned problem with the self-referential jokes is a fairly major one. I realise this that this review is in danger of sounding very negative towards the end, but this is not the case. I really enjoyed the film for what it is, but it is certainly no Chasing Amy.

Video


There’s no denying that Kevin Smith’s latest film is his best looking yet, so it’s fitting that the film has the best DVD transfer of any View Askew movie to date. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back has been transferred to DVD in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and is anamorphically enhanced. The transfer is extremely impressive, with few image problems. The flesh tones in the opening sequence are a little too ‘red’ for my liking, but things sort themselves out after this. Putting this minor issue aside, the majority of the film looks sensational. The image is extremely colourful, with nice deep blacks and good contrast levels. The image is also very sharp, definitely more so than any of the other “Askewniverse” films. One look at the fight scene near the end of the film is proof of the picture’s excellence, as it showcases the varied and vibrant pallet perfectly. Overall this is a very accomplished transfer.

Audio


Smith’s films are predominantly dialogue based, so the main requirement here is for a track that accurately recreates that all-important aspect. The English Dolby Digital 5.1 mix doesn’t disappoint, and while this isn’t the most aggressive mix ever, it is arguably the most dynamic track yet featured in a Smith film. The music is a mixture of rock and rap, with some of the signature music from other Askewniverse films thrown in for good measure. The rears are brought into play at certain key moments, which really helps to draw the viewer into the action. There are a few missed opportunities however, with certain scenes crying out for the inclusion of surround effects. Still, this is the best mix yet for a View Askew movie.

Extras


Here, like the other discs in the New Jersey series, is where Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back comes into its own. Spread over two discs, the material here is arguably some of the best yet found on a Smith DVD.

Call me... Darth Balls!
Starting with disc one we have the commentary track featuring Kevin Smith, Jason Mewes and producer Scott Mosier, although to be fair Mewes doesn’t have a lot to say. While not as entertaining as other Smith commentaries, the track is filled with interesting bits of information and anecdotes about the shoot. Unfortunately it has a tendency to turn into a “who’s who” of View Askew, as the guys are constantly pointing out all of the little cameos and insider jokes that only those privy to the inner sanctum would get. I also feel that this track would have benefited from the inclusion of regulars Ben Affleck, Jason Lee and Vincent Pirrera. Affleck is the most sorely missed participant, simply because he and Smith play off of one another in such an amusing manner. Still, even with all of that said this is still miles better than your average commentary track, but it’s just not up to the very high standards set by Mallrats, Dogma or even Chasing Amy.

Disc one also features sneak peek trailers of Clerks, Chasing Amy, the animated Clerks: Uncensored, Forty Days and Forty Nights, an ad for the Jay and Silent Bob soundtrack CD and a ‘Dimension Cutting Edge Films’ segment. Rounding off the first disc we have some DVD Rom material, which includes an in-depth guide to Morris Day and The Time, as well as more detailed cast and crew biographies. Also included are a screenplay viewer and a weblink. The most interesting feature is probably the Open Mic commentary option, which lets you record your own commentary for certain scenes. Unfortunately I couldn’t get this option to work, although I suspect this has more than a little bit to do with InterActual’s software, which isn’t the most reliable application ever...

In keeping with the current trend disc two houses the bulk of the extras, the best of which are undoubtedly the deleted scenes. Featuring over an hour and a half of deleted or extended material, with introductions, this is a treasure trove of footage that is in many cases more amusing than the final cut. The introductions are delivered for the most by Kevin Smith, Jason Mewes (who is sporting a bum fluff beard that makes him look about twelve) and Scott Mosier, although you’ll also get to meet the legendary Walt Flannigan and both Kevin’s wife and daughter. I personally think that these are the best collection of deleted scenes yet to appear on a Smith DVD. It was also interesting to hear the reasons behind some of the cuts, which include the usual MPAA problems and, more surprisingly, complains from gay rights activists GLAD.

Next up we have The Secret Stash, a collection of short segments featuring adlibs from Judd Nelson, Will Ferrell, John Stewart and ‘Ham’ Affleck. These are amusing takes, especially the material featuring Will Ferrell. Smith is notorious for his hatred of adlibbing, so these takes are very nice to have. These scenes feature introductions by Smith and friends.

Following hot on the heels of The Secret Stash we have an eight and a half minute gag reel entitled ‘Why Movies Cost So Much’. This is basically a series of flubbed lines and takes where various actors couldn’t keep a straight face. Some of the scenes are very amusing, featuring as they do a cast of people who obviously greatly enjoy working together.

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back
Next we have the Internet trailers for the movie, as originally featured on Moviepoopshoot.com and Viewaskew.com. These are pretty funny as far as trailers go, and make the film look really cool. They also feature a lot more swearing than your average trailer, something that Smith seems very proud of during the introduction.

A behind the scenes featurettes follows, which lasts for just under fourteen minutes. Featuring interviews with pretty much everyone involved in the production, this is quite an entertaining piece to watch. This featurettes isn’t as promotional in nature as most, and features more than its fair share of profanity.

TV spots are just that, and there are six in total. These aren’t as funny as the Internet trailers, but they do show a little more footage. Two of the trailers, the Warning/Cake and Warning/Justice ones, seem to have been mislabelled. Selecting one will play the other and vice versa. A minor point, but worth mentioning.

The stills galleries are divided up into three sections – On the Set, Birth of a Poster and Jay and Silent Bob Comics. On the Set features numerous stills of the guys behind the scenes, while the poster section features some very cool designs that didn’t make the final grade. They lampoon a number of popular films, but are mostly focussed around a Road Trip concept. Rather obviously the comic book section features stills from the Jay and Bob comics. There are a lot of stills to go through in these galleries, and it will take you some time to see them all.

Morris Day & The Time: Learnin’ the Moves is a short segment in which Kevin and Jason get to prance around on stage with The Time, who teach them a few dance steps. The Guide to Morris Day & The Time is a text-based history of the band, which I guess is fine if you’re interested in the band and their music.

Music Videos is a fairly self-explanatory section, featuring as it does two music videos! The videos are for the annoying, but strangely catchy, “I Got High” by Afro Man. The video features Jay and Silent Bob and is actually quite cool, even if I happen to think that the song is detestable. Stroke 9’s “Kick Some Ass” is a curious track about donkey abuse. Oh sorry, the American’s quirky spelling of the word arse momentarily confused me. Anyway, the video again features Jay and Bob, but the track isn’t particularly memorable.

‘Comedy Central’s Reel Comedy: Jay and Silent Bob’ is quite similar to the previous behind the scenes featurettes, although more promotional in nature. A lot of the more obscene words are bleeped out here, but it’s still worth a look as it features yet more interviews with the cast and crew.

Next we have the usual cast and crew bios, which are fairly comprehensive. There’s at least one hidden surprise contained within, but more of that later.

The penultimate item is a storyboard section, which contains some very odd Scooby Doo scenes that didn’t make it into the final cut (but are discussed elsewhere on the disc) as well as Jay and Bob’s escape from Willenholly. Also featured are storyboards for the cornfield ‘Planet of the Apes’ sequence.

Rounding off the proceedings we have a truly repulsive easter egg, which can be found by following the instructions in the link to the right of this review. Be warned however, it’s not for the feint hearted!

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back

Overall


As a DVD package this set is superb, but as a film Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back left me a little cold. There are some hysterical moments, but the constant self-referential humour and in jokes wore a little thin after a while. Although I consider myself a fan of Smith’s work I’m not what you’d call an obsessive, and I believe that is the sort of person who will get the most from this movie. After repeated viewing I’d have to say that this ranks slightly above Mallrats in the series. While this is a must buy for the rabid fans out there, the uninitiated or those of you with a less fanatical outlook may want to try before you buy...


Links: