sThe end of the movie Mallrats already teased a story about Jay and Silent Bob having an adventure that includes an ape. But after the critical failure of that movie, director Kevin Smith went back to his more indie roots by making Chasing Amy and Dogma. Both movies which also had supporting roles for the characters of Jay and Silent Bob. Chasing Amy only contained a cameo of these two stoners, but they played an intricate part in the movie Dogma. Even though they were still considered supporting characters. In Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back these characters finally step up to the limelight.
A lot of movie studios are trying to recreate the immensely successful Marvel formula of a shared universe between movies. But this concept wasn’t even new when Marvel started it. Back in the 90’s Kevin Smith created his own little “View Askew Universe”. A series of movies mainly connected to each other by the characters of Jay and Silent Bob. But also by events and characters mentioned in the dialog. The View Askew Universe consists of Clerks I and II, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma and of course Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. Compared to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back is the View Askew Universe’s Avengers movie.
The plot is a bit convoluted to those who are new to The View Askew Universe. One day Jay and Silent Bob find out people are talking shit about them on the internet. Without them even knowing what the internet is, they want to find out why. It turns out there is a movie being made about them. As we have learned form Chasing Amy there is a comic based upon them called Bluntman and Chronic. Bluntman and Chronic is apparently being turned into a movie. A movie which is receiving a negative buzz on the internet. In order to stop people hating on them, they set out to Hollywood to stop the making of this movie. Sounds logical right?
If you are not familiar with the View Askew movies, the story is still simple enough to fully grasp. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back contains enough exposition to fill in the gaps for all you newcomers. 90% of the movie and much of the laughs originates from Jay shouting expletives. It’s essentially a road movie in which they encounter all kinds of colorful characters along the way. They get tips on successful hitchhiking, end up in the Scooby Doo Mystery Van and meet a couple of hot female jewel thieves posing as an animal rights group. Oh, and there is the ape of course.
While this movie centers around Jay and Silent Bob, the script is full of references to the preceding movies. Familiar characters and settings pop up to help move the story along. In some cases multiple roles are played by the same character. Ben Affleck appears as his character from Chasing Amy, as well as himself in the final act of the movie. Jason Lee reprises his roles of Brody from Mallrats and Banky Edwards from Chasing Amy. Almost all the of the main casts from previous movies appear in small roles in which they reprise their characters. Sometimes, like Chris Rock, they play a totally new character.
Even though this isn’t a movie film students will be studying, there are many meta-elements in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. The movie is actually smarter than it looks on the surface. It’s a movie about two stoners who go to Hollywood to prevent the making of a movie which is based on a comic book about two fictional characters which is based upon these two stoners. Are you still with me? And in the process director Kevin Smith, throws in a ton of references and spoofs to other movies. Movies like Scream, Good Will Hunting, Jaws, E.T., The Fugitive and more.
But to really get all the references and in-jokes I do advice to go back and watch all of the preceding movies. It adds a layer to the viewing experience and gives scenes with a reappearing character a much more depth and joy. Jason lee was hilarious in Mallrats as Brody. His short cameo as brody in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back gave me a sense of joy I would not have if I had not have seen Mallrats. In fact, when the first trailer of this movie appeared on the Internet back in 2000 I even obtained a copy of the DVD of Clerks and a VHS tape of Chasing Amy. Just so that I would go into this movie fully prepared.
Is this a great movie? No. Is this a hilarious movie. Yes! Well in my opinion at least. Not everybody will enjoy the vulgar ramblings of Jay who is at his core an obnoxious character. If you liked their appearances in Mallrats and Dogma, than you will love these characters and many more in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.