Of course Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back is a spin-off from Kevin Smith’s Clerks movies, moving the goofy drug dealers Jay and Silent Bob (Smith himself) into the featured roles.
Jay is only barely distinguishable from Randal from Clerks, so he can be funny in the same way, though I think Randal is marginally better. Silent Bob’s shtick of not talking is funnier when these guys are supporting characters; when they’re the focus of the movie it gets tiresome. Smith really just isn’t that talented at the physical comedy and such necessary to bring out the best in the character. He tries—mugging and gesticulating for the camera—but Harpo Marx he ain’t.
The movie brings together the majority of the people from the Clerks movies, including brief appearances by Dante and Randal themselves, folks from other of Smith’s movies, and a surprising number of recognizable stars. None of them seem to be taking it seriously; one gets the impression a lot of stars who like Smith’s movies agreed to drop in and have a little fun with this.
From the first few minutes it’s apparent the movie isn’t even going to make a token effort to be realistic, which I sort of liked and sort of didn’t. On the one hand, a lot of mainstream comedies pretend to make sense or to have some story worth following when really they don’t, and I figure it’s better just to drop the pretense and string together gags. On the other hand, if the laughs occur in the context of a story where you care about the characters and the plot (as Clerks tried to do and succeeded, and Clerks II tried to do and only minimally succeeded), then there’s obviously more substance and more to admire about that kind of movie than this one.
I definitely got some laughs out of the movie. Maybe I shouldn’t admit it, but I laughed most at the gutter language insults and such of Jay. Some of them are so stupid and over the top that I couldn’t help but bust up.
As I say, the story never does become realistic. However, it does become more prominent, which is unfortunate, because it is not the slightest bit funny or interesting. Early on, when the film has a greater proportion of gags and Jay’s obscene rants is when it’s funniest. When it’s focused more on moving the plot along and having big action scenes and such, it’s just dull, sometimes painfully so.
And the types of humor available for these characters are quite limited, so even the humor gets stale the deeper you get into the movie. I was rooting for the end to hurry up and arrive for at least the last half hour.
By the way, there are a great number of movie and pop culture references played for humor, and I only got some of those. Probably I got a lot fewer than most viewers will.
So, I laughed at some of the outrageousness of the language (and I did like the idea of two guys flying all over the country to beat up any anonymous dweebs who’d criticized them on Internet posting boards), and it was kind of fun to see Jon Stewart, et al, enjoying themselves goofing off with this material (oh, and George Carlin’s ridiculous cameo is probably the funniest of the lot), but it’s really not a good movie. There are enough quality laughs for a solid five or ten minute short, but most of this movie is just dumb and boring.
Once again Kevin Smith falls way, way short of making another movie I’ll like as much as Clerks.