CRITIC DOCTOR EXAMINES: Ron Wells (filmthreat.com), Mark Caro (Chicago Tribune), Eric Harrison (Houston Chronicle), Eric Lurio (gvny.com), Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times), Carrie Rickey (Philadelphia Inquirer) ^ * * 1/2 out of 5 stars (R)
I went to see Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back with the expectation I was going to see a crude, disgusting, pot-smoking film. I was wrong. It was worse! Director Kevin Smith claims this is Jay and Silent Bob’s last movie. Should this deranged duo retire?
The movie is about two stoner street dealers named Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith) who are characters in their own comic book. They find out Hollywood is now making a movie about them and Internet critics are cursing Jay and Bob on the message boards. Outraged, they road trip to LA to stop the film from being made so these pesky online critics will shut up.
In the September 2001 issue of PREMIERE magazine, Kevin Smith actually lashed out at a real Internet critic, Ron Wells (filmthreat.com) in an interview Mr. Smith Goes Off (by Mark Ebner). Smith despised Wells’ negative comments in his review of Dogma, which apparently embedded deep resentment into Smith’s creative ego. Smith got him back by making fun of Wells’ physical appearance at comic book convention in San Diego.
Wells retaliated in a Film Threat column entitled Ron Wells and Kevin Smith Strike Back – At Each Other! and said, “Am I angry or annoyed at the comments Smith has publicly made about me? Actually, I’m flattered. When I’m singled out from the rest of the Web-hacks like this, it can only prove my words actually count for something; it means I’m special.”
Unfortunately, Ron, the four stars you gave Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back was not special. Wells said in his Film Threat review, “Eh, I liked it. It was damn funny. To make up for old times, I’ll even give it four stars.”
I miss the old times, Ron.
Jay and Silent Bob have appeared briefly in every Kevin Smith movie including Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, and Dogma. Smith himself plays Silent Bob and he is indeed silent. Jay’s mouth is like an over-flowing toilet – siphoning out every imaginable leftover from the sewage pit below. Like Jay’s dialogue, this movie was a “waste.” The critics nailed it:
— “A disposable film, one that, aside from those universal doo-doo/sex jokes, will likely be incomprehensible in 50 years and wouldn’t make much sense now to anyone not steeped in the world of movies, particularly Smith’s.” Mark Caro (Chicago Tribune)
— “It’s filled with so many inside jokes and references, though, that a moviegoer who hasn’t seen Smith’s other work might wonder why everyone else in the theater is laughing so hard.” Eric Harrison (Houston Chronicle)
— “If you’re a die-hard Kevin Smith fan, by all means see this as soon as possible. If you’re not. Don’t bother, or wait until it comes out on video.” Eric Lurio (gvny.com)
— “Whether you will like ‘Jay and Silent Bob’ depends on who you are. Most movies are made for everybody. Kevin Smith’s movies are either made specifically for you, or specifically not made for you.” Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times)
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back was not made for the general audience. It was made for people like Ron Wells! It belongs not in theaters but on the video shelf of every Hollywood actor, director, writer and Kevin Smith fan.
I did give this movie at least two and a half stars. Why? First of all, I admit I do not like any of Kevin Smith’s movies (if you’re reading Kevin, don’t take this personal). I simply have different tastes. But now Smith comes out with his most raunchy film of all and I am inclined to like it! When Jay’s vulgar mouth spewed out its venom, I would often recoil. Other times, I just busted out in laughter! I thought to myself, “Does the Critic Doctor need therapy? No. Here’s why.
I have a love/hate relationship with Jay and Silent Bob. You know they have good hearts, just bad mouths (Jay’s mouth anyway). I wanted to slap them both silly and give them a big hug. Like brothers! Mewes and Smith simply portray their characters extremely well (you cannot help but like them) and their comedic timing is right on!
Kevin Smith proved he could make a vulgar, satire that satisfied a niche crowd. But is Smith grown up enough as a writer and director to clean up Jay and Silent Bob’s act and develop stories to elevate these likable characters to a broader audience without relying on below toilet humor and verbal sleaze-stick dialogue? I think if Jay and Silent Bob were given more respectable roles, they would be more tolerable to watch. The talented duo has real comedic potential. Jay and Silent Bob should come back.
Carrie Rickey (Philadelphia Inquirer) summed the movie up best: “It’s not by any means a good movie. But ‘Jay and Silent Bob’ is one heck of a good laugh.”
Jay and Silent Bob shouldn’t retire. They just need a moral makeover.
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