Ben Affleck steals the show in Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, going back to his true Hollywood roots to provide Kevin Smith with a short but sweet cameo. The moment comes late in the third half of this quasi-sequel to Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, and it's a shame that this trio fell off for the last thirteen years. If this short stretch of a reunion is any indication, Ben Affleck and Kevin Smith could create some more cinematic magic in the future if they are willing to do so.
The rest of Jay and Silent Bob Reboot is perfectly 'okay'. It's breezy, fun and often very funny. Spackled onto the preexisting blueprint for Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, it hits all the notes in tune. But there is a very heavy, been there seen that vibe swirling around the entire endeavor that weighs on the 95 minute runtime. For any fan of the View Askewniverse, this will serve as a welcome return to these characters. It's not the best entry in Kevin Smith's long-standing back catalogue. It's not the worst either. It falls somewhere in the middle, but will have a long shelf life, and I'm guessing it, like some of his other better movies, will age well.
Walking into Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, you know exactly what you're going to get. Perhaps the trailers gave too much away? As there aren't really any elements of surprise awaiting within. I saw this on a double bill with Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, and that swift comedy has stood the test of time. Held within today's social media norms, it actually rings as quite prescient. A little less heavy-handed than this Reboot at hand.
The new movie takes sequel and remake culture to task, while giving us all the cliches involved for a very meta experience that is actually unlike anything else seen in recent days. It plays nice with Millennials and Generation Z, unlike the recent Shaft reboot, and doesn't alienate its potential younger audience members while still trying to satiate the older folks in the crowd. The original seemed more edgy, but that's to be expected in this current social climate.
That doesn't stop Smith from taking on some taboo topics. He recruits current AEW World Champion Chris Jericho into the fold as a KKK leader, dragging the white supremacy group into a wacky head scratcher of a scene that seems to be an ode to The Blues Brothers, but may confound teenage Antifa wannabes who don't get the joke. There is more than enough pot smoke drifting about the movie's edges to slide it into being a stoner cinema classic. Complete with scenes that wiggle in, make little sense, only to dissipate and disappear without much consequence. You don't need many active brain cells to enjoy this ride.
Take Matt Damon's return as Loki for example. He is reprising his role from Dogma, and makes the requisite Marvel jokes about Tom Hiddleston. The cameo arrives early, and from left field. Damon is seen by himself in a church. No explanation given, none really needed. And he seemingly goes onto narrate the movie, though the comedy has clomped along for at least twenty minutes without one. But Damon's Loki narrates just one scene. And then is never seen from or heard again. Stoner cinema at its finest, I guess.
It must have been the edibles. But it doesn't really matter. Part of the charm here is that Kevin Smith is making up his own rules as he goes along. It's a lot like his most recent efforts in that regard, hewing closer to the aesthetic found in Tusk and Yoga Hosers. I like those two movies quite a lot. While there aren't many according to Kevin Smith himself, you can count me as one of the few fans of those two carnivalesque creature features.
This isn't a stream of conscious monster movie, though. And the 'making it up as you go along' conceit flips and dips on occasion. The gist of the story is the same as the first go around. Jay and Silent Bob are heading to Hollywood to stop a movie from being made about them. This time it's a reboot of Bluntman and Chronic. It's really just an excuse to hang a series of sketches from. And it gives Jay a daughter. Some jokes work. Some arrive as flat soda. But it's never a task to consume anything thrown on screen. Some of the dialogue might make you shrug, but it's never unpleasant.
Overall, it's a friendly experience. And a welcome one. Watching Kevin Smith play himself as the director of Bluntman v Chronic made me a little itchy. Of course he looks just like Silent Bob. And Smith goes for it, giving us a scene where Bob slides into Kevin's shoes as part of a scheme to get Jay's daughter into the upcoming BVC movie. It's absolutely ridiculous. But I have to forgive this whimsy. Robin Williams did the same exact thing on an episode of Mork and Mindy, where Mindy takes Mork into Robin's dressing room after a stand-up show, and the two have a well-meaning conversation about how hard it is to 1) Be an alien and 2) Be famous. I think the episode aired after Popeye hit theaters. It's exactly the kind of sitcom era throwback you'd expect from Kevin Smith. Weird. But at least Smith is stealing from the classics.
Along for the ride here is Kevin Smith's daughter Harley Quinn Smith, who is really carving out a niche for herself. She's not quite like any other actress making the scene at the moment, and she's so fetching and funny. It's too bad Lily-Rose Depp couldn't have popped in for a quick reunion. Johnny Depp, who appeared in Tusk and Yoga Hosers also doesn't show up. Maybe they'll return in Moose Jaws, which has forever promised to give us the death of Silent Bob. Though now, considering what has happened to the director since he first conceived the idea, perhaps he can go back and revise the scene ala Mario Van Peebles in Jaws 4: The Revenge, where his character died, but reshoots brought him back to life. Seriously, no one wants to watch Silent Bob actually get killed in a movie.
There aren't any surprise cameos in Jay and Silent Bob Reboot. Kevin Smith, who notably likes to talk a lot, has pretty much given everything up from the word jump. There is a nice ode to Clerks when the gang finally make it to Chronic-Con. But other than that, I felt like I was watching a movie I'd already seen a couple of times before.
Because of that, I don't think I'm feeling as enthusiastic about the whole ordeal at the moment. But as Redman says in the movie about his own comedy classic How High, I feel this could age into a fine chablis. Perhaps some time removed from seeing Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back or any of this current film's promotional material, I'll enjoy it more. Right now I'll chalk it up as a pleasant diversion. And what more could you ask for in a comedy right now? Jay and Silent Bob is hitting the road through 2020. You can find tour dates on Facebook for a city near you.