Saturday, 30 November 2019

Review: Jay and Silent Bob Reboot

Jay and Silent Bob Reboot
Cert: 15 / 105 mins / Dir. Kevin Smith / Trailer

Well, it looks like I may have been hasty in calling Once Upon A Time In Hollywood the most self-indulgent flick of 2019. You live and learn.

Also living and claiming to learn is geek-maestro Kevin Smith, who after a near-fatal heart attack last year has regrouped the troops and crafted a follow-up to 2001’s Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. When the eponymous pair learn that a movie studio has plans to relaunch Bluntman and Chronic after legally pilfering Jay and Silent Bob’s intellectual property rights, the boys embark on a roadtrip from New Jersey to Hollywood to stop that happening. Yes, like last time.


It genuinely pains me, reader, to tell you that Jay and Silent Bob Reboot is fine. 'Fine'. Because I don’t want it to be ‘fine’, I want it to be great. Fine isn't great. Fuck it, fine isn't even fine. I want to love this because Smith has made some of my all-time favourite, go-to movies, and I know he’s better than this lazy, opportunistic rehash. Shamelessly anachronistic in both tone and execution, a vast swathe of characters and performers from previous entries in the View Askewniverse enter and leave, each ham-fistedly issuing catchphrases and callbacks that feel like Peter Kay was the script-consultant. Because looking in to the camera and telling your audience they’re being ripped off isn't clever unless you subversively add some new ideas or themes.

More a paid-for backslap than a retrospective or confessional, Reboot is part cosplay, part tribute-act, part reunion. And like most reunions, you look at your watch after about an hour and realize you’re done and you’d rather be at home. The film doesn’t have the inherent silliness of Smith’s glory days and the irreverence just feels forced now. Some things do stay true to form however, and the writer/director is still tone-deaf when it comes to actual sentiment. But that never stopped him in the past so why would it now?


The worst part is, this isn’t awful. It just plays like a grindingly average fan-film, like everything Kevin Smith’s critics have been accusing him of for years and now the prophecy has self-fulfilled and Smith is last to notice.

Jay and Silent Bob Reboot feels like a first-draft screenplay knocked out quickly by someone who knows precisely what film he wants to make, and knows precisely that there's no one to tell him no. Not because he's successful and powerful, but because the industry stopped paying attention once Smith was happy to self-finance and crowdfund his own failures. In that respect, there's a surprising purity to the project. Well, if something so shamelessly recycled could ever be called pure.


Things pick up for the finale, but it feels like a long ride getting there. I didn’t hate this, and despite my moaning I’d be pushed to say I even actively ‘disliked’ it, but the boredom I felt was much worse. The 15-minute pre-recorded Q&A which followed made me laugh more than anything in the movie. This only reassures me that my problem isn’t with Kevin Smith, but this sausage-machine of a movie he’s put his name to. I'm not holding my breath for Clerks 3 or Mallrats 2, although I imagine there'll at least be something more of a narrative.

For a venerable master of communication who’s had a life-transforming experience, you’d think Kevin Smith’s new insight would consist of more than just repackaging action figures from two decades ago then saying “I love my kid”...

So, what sort of thing is it similar to?
This is similar to Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back
Without being as good.

Although in all fairness, it's not as godawful as Super Groovy Cartoon Movie

Is it worth paying cinema-prices to see?
If you're a fan, sure, why not?

But let's be clear, this movie is specifically for fans of Smith's earlier work and no one involved is even pretending otherwise

Is it worth hunting out on DVD, Blu-ray or streaming, though?
Completists will want it for their shelves, everyone else can stream it.

Is this the best work of the cast or director?

Will we disagree about this film in a pub?
Given the general reputation of Kevin Smith in the cinematic community, probably not?

Is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
There isn't.

Yeah but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 1: That First Order Stormtrooper is in this.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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