Unless you're a fan, strike 'Jay and Silent Bob Strikes Back' from your to do list
By Jack Garner
Gannett News Service
(Rated R, with profanity and sex references galore) One-and-One-Half Stars (Poor-to-Fair)
A slapdash "Clerks" sequel by the earlier film's Greek chorus elevated to lead status, on a mission to Hollywood where they're supposedly filming their life stories. Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith co-star, with Ben Affleck, Chris Rock and others. Smith writes and directs. Dimension Films, 104 mins.
Heck, even something as great as "The Godfather" barely made it through a trilogy.
Yet here we are, faced with "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back."
In it, two previously slight characters find themselves the center of a slapdash road picture, encountering nearly every key character from the previous four films "Clerks," "Mallrats," "Chasing Amy," and "Dogma."
Writer-director Kevin Smith who also plays Silent Bob promises this fifth film will be the final chapter of his so-called New Jersey Chronicles.
He says it's time to move on. After seeing "Jay and Silent Bob" I can only add, "Amen."
More silly than subversive, "Jay and Silent Bob" is the slightest and least purposeful of the five films, a mishmash of parody and self-parody. Both characters were marginal ones in Smith's earlier films.
Jay and Silent Bob are the hapless slackers who hang out in front of a Jersey strip-mall convenience store, making idiotic pop-culture critiques, dreaming of women they'll never win, and selling pot.
Jay and Bob discover their story such as it is has been sold to Miramax Pictures. And they've never been involved in the negotiations.
This upsets Jay and Bob, not so much because they've been cut out of a lot of money, but because the project has made them fair game for criticism on the Internet.
Their solution? Head for Hollywood and disrupt the shooting.
Along the way, they're helped (or hindered) by a comic book impresario (Jason Lee), a comic book artist (Ben Affleck), an expert hitchhiker (George Carlin), a nun (Carrie Fisher), a wildlife ranger (Will Ferrell), a jewel thief (Shannon Elizabeth) who becomes the object of Jay's overt lust; an arrogant, race-obsessed director (Chris Rock), and a washed-up superhero actor (Mark Hamill).
The result is like some sort of Miramax homecoming video, with myriad references to "Good Will Hunting" and the "Scream" movies, and lots of inside jokes that'll probably have 'em laughing in Hollywood offices.
Of course, filmgoers are treated to the relentless profanity and sexual references that are typical of youth comedies today and that Smith pioneered in 1994's "Clerks."
"Jay and Silent Bob" is buoyed by its many familiar faces from earlier Smith films, but its central characters are a liability.
Jason Mewes (Jay) carries most of the film's dialogue as the film's lead character (since Silent Bob hardly ever talks). And Mewes' acting credentials are simply that he went to high school with Smith and was a clerk in Smith's comic book store.
This example of nepotism at work may be enough for a wacky cameo, leaning against the wall of a convenience store; but it's not the stuff of a lead actor.
And, as Silent Bob, Smith's performance is limited to interchangeable looks of shock or dismay.
"Jay and Silent Bob" is strictly for hardcore fans of the New Jersey Chronicles and you know who you are. Like the also-weak "Mallrats," the new film will survive strictly on the good will of Smith's regular fans. Few other viewers will follow or enjoy the movie.
Rated R, with profanity and sex references galore.