here's hoping that kevin smith isn't lying when he says this is the last film in the Red Bank, New Jersey-based View Askew universe. Centring a movie on the running characters of Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Smith) is a better idea than, say, Mallrats.
Admirers of Smith's humour will enjoy the film, but I think Smith has pretty much exhausted the terrain by sending his stoner protagonists on a road trip to California.
Packed to the walls with in-jokes (virtually everyone who's ever been in a Smith movie has at least a cameo here, and Ben Affleck and Jason Lee play multiple characters), Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back plays as if Smith weren't just cleaning out his desk, but his attic as well.
Briefly, Jay and Silent Bob discover that Hollywood is adapting the Bluntman And Chronic comics based on their characters, and not only are they not getting a cheque, but people are dissing them on Internet discussion groups. The movie must be stopped. Road trip!
The two become involved with thieves, are pursued by murderous game wardens and wind up wandering Miramax's back lot, where they encounter Ben Affleck and Matt Damon working on -- well, let's just say it's not the Jay and Silent Bob movie -- and Shannon Doherty working on Scream 4. And they discover that in the movie about them they'll be played by Jason Biggs and James Vanderbeek.
If you're a hardcore fan of Smith's humour, Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back is funny, if uneven and scattershot. (Smith may be the only director who can make a $20-million film look like $9.95.)
The strongest jokes are the ones that are thrown away. Indeed, the best way to watch Captain Corelli's Mandolin is with this movie's anti-Miramax gags ringing in your head.
If you're not a Smith fan, or if you were intrigued by Chasing Amy and the theological satire of Dogma, this is not a film for you. I enjoyed it, but I hope Smith can move on now to another film as interesting as Chasing Amy, which remains the definitive romantic comedy of the last decade.
JAY AND SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK written and directed by Kevin Smith, produced by Scott Mosier, with Jason Mewes, Smith, Shannon Elizabeth, Ben Affleck, Eliza Dushku and Matt Damon. 104 minutes. A View Askew production. A Dimension Films release through Alliance-Atlantis. Opens Friday (August 24). For venues and times, see First-Run Movies, page 74. Rating: NNN