3.Avatar Review
     A Review of Poetry, Prose, and Art - Summer 2001

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back

Lori Anne VanDaele

There are two intersecting groups of people who will enjoy this film – Kevin Smith fans and pop culture fans. If you fall into the first group, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back is, in some ways, a culmination of what has gone on in Smith's previous films. The film starts out with Jay and Silent Bob being hit with a restraining order from standing outside the convenience store and video store featured in Clerks. They soon find out a film is being made based on their comic characters, Bluntman and Chronic, from Chasing Amy and they go to Holden McNeil, Ben Affleck's character from that movie, to find out why they didn't get any money out of the movie deal. When they find out that they are being slammed on various movie websites, they set out across country to stop the movie from being made and, therefore, stop "Net surfers from talking about them online."

The use of characters from previous Smith films is where things can get confusing. Ben Affleck, as previously mentioned, plays his Chasing Amy character at the beginning of the film and himself near the end. Jason Lee plays two different characters from two different Smith films. Chris Rock, who was an angel in Dogma, plays a new character here and Matt Damon and other actors and directors make appearances, some as themselves and others as fictional characters. This just adds to the fun, however. The world of Smiths' films is called “view askew” and the use of these actors in the various roles simply heightens that sensibility. You never can quite remember if a given actor is playing himself or a character, and it doesn't really matter, anyway.

The other group of people who will enjoy this film are those who enjoy pop culture references. The villain in the Bluntman and Chronic film is played by a light-saber wielding Mark Hamill. The federal marshal who chases Jay and Silent Bob across country is named Officer Willenholly (after the two children in Lost in Space) and he has a showdown with them in a sewage tunnel opening out into a waterfall similar to the famous scene in The Fugitive. The band The Time from Purple Rain are also featured.

One big criticism of this film has been that Jay and Silent Bob are minor characters who can't carry their own movie, just like the Saturday Night Live character movies that keep getting made. The difference here, however, is that Jay and Silent Bob, while in just about every scene, largely react to what's around them. Only rarely do they take action, such as at the beginning of the film where they decide to go to Hollywood to stop the film. For the most part, they react to what is going on around them. In that way, the film is almost like a series of interconnected skits.

While Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back will not have wide-spread appeal, it is not meant to. The primary purpose of this film is to make fun of big-budget Hollywood films and of the Internet fans that take them too seriously. For pop culture or Kevin Smith fans, it is an amusing diversion; everyone else should go see Shrek again.

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