“Jay and Silent Bob Reboot” Movie Review


     It’s hard to believe writer/director Kevin Smith’s 1994 Sundance darling, “Clerks”, is now 25 years old, having created a slew of recurring characters appearing in nearly all of his follow up work, but none more iconic than the stoner duo Jay and Silent Bob.  Smith, as many who follow him know, nearly died of a heart attack just over a year ago.  An experience that left him to ponder what exactly is most important to him in life, and at the same time, perhaps exposing a bit of a softer more mature side.  One would think such an a epiphany could lead to the filmmaker conjuring the next Oscar winning film, but then we also know Kevin Smith isn’t the type to stray from what defines him.  Thus, we have “Jay and Silent Bob Reboot”, fast forwarding 18 years since 2001’s “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back” where we find our favorite potheads again fighting against Hollywood’s appetite for producing another Bluntman and Chronic film.

     “Jay and Silent Bob Reboot” is a fans only experience.  To watch this without having thoroughly immersed yourself in Smith’s films and subculture over the last two plus decades would be like walking into “Avengers: Endgame” to see your very first Marvel film.  Put simply, you won’t get the jokes.  You likely won’t laugh.  And the inside stuff Smith has meticulously hidden within every scene would go right over your head.  If you are a fan; however, upon exit from the theater, you will not be wrong when proclaiming “Reboot” is the funniest film of 2019.  There is brilliance here at every level.

     Years may have passed, but Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith) haven’t changed much, at least not their outward appearance anyway.  They still watch DVDs, having little to no knowledge of streaming services like Netflix, but to his credit, Silent Bob now utilizes the emojis on his iPhone messaging app as an alternative to his expressive hand gesturing.  For the most part, they remain locked in a 1990s time capsule, remaining there purposely so as to enjoy their blissful state of ignorance.   

     When the opening scene sees them arrested for, wait for it, weed possession, they are immediately thrust into court where they are tricked into signing away their name and likeness rights, only to find out a reboot of the Bluntman and Chronic movie they were unsuccessful in stopping in 2001 is in the finishing stages of filming.  The one final scene is said to be shot at the annual Chronic Con, a fan convention for the film, where attendees will be chosen to participate as extras.  Of course, as was the case in “Strike Back”, Jay and Silent Bob announce their latest mission to travel across the country and stop the film from being finished.

     But “Reboot” surprisingly enters sentimental territory when a father/daughter relationship is revealed and the manly exterior of our leads suddenly transforms into, dare I say it, that of actual human beings.  Of course, the fun here is supplied by relentless call backs and verbal assaults on virtually all of Smith’s previous films with a number of nifty one liners aimed directly at “Cop Out”, “Yoga Hosers”, & “Tusk”.  And given the entire plot centers around a reboot of an 18 year old film, Hollywood itself is skewered as well. Especially in a scene that brings back “Mallrats” favorite Brodie (Jason Lee) that sees him rant on the fact nothing original is produced anymore, with studios opting to repackage the same characters and stories while creating universes that bring in droves of loyal fans every year.  Just don’t try and tell him the MCU is an example of that.

     Given the events in the first act, Jay and Silent Bob again partner with four women who have an ulterior motive just as the diamond thieves crew did in “Strike Back”.  This time, in going with the overall theme of the film, the ladies bring forth the well chosen diversity common in reboots when compared to the originals. Rather than four white women, we have one white woman, one black/deaf woman, one Asian woman, and one Middle Eastern woman.  Milly, played by Smith’s daughter Harley Quinn Smith who made her film debut at one year old as the baby Silent Bob in “Strike Back”, is the daughter of Jay’s “Strike Back” flame Justice (Shannon Elizabeth).  Accompanied by Soapy (Treshelle Edmond), Shan Yu (Alice Wen), and Jihad (Aparna Brielle), the foursome convince Jay and Silent Bob to take them to Hollywood where the group can make Shan Yu’s dream come true of appearing in an American movie.  But with the players involved, nothing is as it seems.

     For the majority of the film’s 95 minutes, Smith and his characters poke fun at virtually everything we know about him, particularly his recent loss of 100 pounds thanks to a Vegan diet, but also his infamous airline run in where he was kicked off the plane for being too fat.  That’s not to say this new more mature version of Kevin Smith, a filmmaker who literally stood in front of death’s door, has abandoned his brand of raunchy comedy all together.  “Reboot” features Mewes in nearly every scene, and he’s never been better or more dirty.  And yet the screenplay still manages to create moments involving these characters that demonstrate a heavy heart, likely the result of Smith’s own experiences as a parent.

     The cameos in “Reboot” are aplenty, including notable appearances by Chris Hemsworth, Val Kilmer, Melissa Benoist, Rosario Dawson, Justin Long, Craig Robinson, and Jennifer Schwalbach, along with returning characters played by Joey Lauren Adams (“Chasing Amy”), Matt Damon (“Dogma”), Brian O’Halloran (“Clerks”), and “Strike Back” vets Diedrich Bader, Jason Biggs, and James Van Der Beek.  But it’s the appearance of Ben Affleck’s Holden McNeil from “Chasing Amy”, in a scene late in the film, which has the most impact both dramatically and comedically, bringing the arc of these characters to a satisfying conclusion where we come to realize just how real each of them were all along.  Who knew Smith would round out the story of two pot dealers with such weighty stuff?  GRADE: B+