Oh. My. God.
My best friend's girlfriend got four free passes to a sneak preview of Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back. My wife and I drove three hours to get to the theatre, and three hours home. And you know what? It was so worth it! I actually have a hangover. A laughter hangover. My head actually hurts from laughing so much in the span of two hours... it's like a sinus headache, but it feels almost... good. The memory of what caused the pain is like a balm, making it bearable and even almost... enjoyable.
Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back (J&SBSB) is the fifth final film in the "New Jersey Trilogy", an odyssey that has taken us from the Quickie-Mart to the Mall to a Lesbian Bar to the New Catholic Church and now... to Hollywood? Yes, it's true. Kevin Smith has turned his wit (and his tendency to mug for the camera so effectively) on the entire Hollywood machine, including the film's production company, several other well-known Hollywood films and ultimately on himself, both in and out of the actual film. But is it effective for a general audience, who may not be "in" on all the jokes that are based on the previous films?
J&SBSB delivers laughs by the truckload for everyone, with a few extras for those who are devotees (like myself) to chuckle over, and effectively and verbosely skewers everyone, be they regular Askewniversians, cameo players or the film company itself. Written with Kevin Smith's trademark urban wit and adventurous vulgarity, this film neatly ties up all the unanswered questions from any of the previous Jersey installments in a bright, laugh-filled box with a beautiful bow (named Shannon Elizabeth).
There are a plethora of sites on the 'Net that have plot summaries, so I won't bother with one here. If you'd like one, please head to http://www.newsaskew.com/ to read up on the story of the film. What I will do here is to tell you how fabulous I thought this film was.
This is the consummate buddy-flick, but with a radically different "buddy" dynamic. Jay and his "hetero life-mate" Silent Bob, truly are the Laurel and Hardy for the 21st century. While Jay's mouth is truly amazing for all of its vulgarity, Silent Bob's facial expressions do a true homage to John Belushi's "Bluto" from Animal House, which is where Kevin Smith has stated he has drawn his inspiration for Silent Bob's reactions. This film is truly about friendship, as another reviewer so aptly noted, both in the script of the film and in the sub-text behind the film.
This film is also a post-modernists dream-come-true. Almost every joke in this film is referential, making it a film that everyone can come out feeling like they "got". Most of the references aren't very subtle, but there are a few that you have to be quick (and knowledgeable of film in general and the Jersey film stock) to get, and those make the film all the funnier and all the more endearing to the audience member who can feel proud of him or herself for "getting it".
For performances... to Jason Mewes, I give all congratulations and accolades. I am a self-professed Askew fan, but even I had my doubts about his ability to carry an entire film on his slim, semi-professional-actor shoulders. I am quite happy to say, my doubts were groundless. Jason Mewes not only carries the film, he excels in taking the character of Jay to new heights (or some might argue, new lows) with a fantastic demonstration of how a character who is an idiot, and who remains an idiot, can still become endearing to the audience, even those pre-disposed not to like him (ie. those who haven't seen the other four films).
Kevin Smith is, as always, wonderful. He gives everyone else all the good lines, preferring to remain mostly silent throughout the entire film, save for special occasions, when what comes out of his mouth is both satisfying and surprising, and always entertaining. At the risk of giving anything away (which I won't), I won't mention specifically what my favorite part of the film was, but the homage to Darth Maul (my hands-down fave from Phantom Menace) had me cheering while I was laughing, and wishing that scene could have gone on much longer than it did.
Additional props must go out to Jason Lee, who plays dual roles, Ben Affleck, who also plays dual roles (although one of them is himself) and Matt Damon. Specifically, my admiration to Ben and Matt, who manage not only to skewer the idea of outlandish movie sequels but also poke fun at themselves and the traditional Hollywood rumor mill as well. Their scene when they are playing themselves playing other people is one of the comedic highlights of the movie.
Now, add to this the lovely Shannon Elizabeth as Justice, the delightfully naughty Eliza Dushku (who, in another life, was the evil slayer "Faith" on the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer), and cameos by George Carlin, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Chris Rock, Wes Craven, Morris Day, Gus Van Sant... well... you get the idea. This film showed not only how much clout Kevin Smith has accrued in the Hollywood ranks, but also how loved and respected he is because... well... all those people (and more) said "Yes" when asked to be in the film. Mark Hamill, in particular, has never done a movie where he's come even remotely close to parodying his Luke Skywalker character, but for Kevin Smith, he did. That's clout.
So, all in all, I give this film an A+. It's not going to win any Academy Awards, nor Golden Globes, but I could easily see it winning several People's Choice awards, since it is the people that it will delight. And in closing, I just want to say that I thought the "disclaimer" at the end of the credits was P E R F E C T! I hope it makes the GLAAD people feel as dumb as they've made themselves look. Kevin, thank you for a fabulous "Goodbye". Count on me to go back to pay to see the film a 2nd time, just so I can send you my money, my support and my gratitude. And know that you've got a lifelong fan here who will buy it when it comes out on DVD and will continue to see just about anything you do.