Welcome to the CineMasoCast review of “Jay and Silent Bob Reboot.” I wasn’t even supposed to be here today, but I assure you, our blog is open.
I can only hope that you’re among the lucky people who managed to see Reboot through one of the two Fathom Events screenings or by way of the Jay and Silent Bob Reboot Roadshow live tour. Unfortunately, if you live in Memphis (where the CMC calls home), then you would have to make your own road trip to see the Roadshow. As of press time, there are no dates in Memphis, and the only date in Tennessee still not sold out is one showing at the Belcourt Theater in Nashville (There’s also a Chattanooga showing, but that takes place during the Memphis Comic and Fantasy Convention, and we would hate to miss you, although we wouldn’t blame you).
If you haven’t seen it and can’t make it, at the very least, you are presumably quite familiar with the premise: Jersey stoner buddies Jay and Silent Bob are back and once again off on a road trip to Hollywood to stop a movie about superhero characters based on themselves. The entire movie, right down to that preceding description, is an epic length self-deprecating meta joke as only Kevin Smith and the gang can tell it.
To break it down a little further, let’s go right to our recap of What Sucked and What Rocked about this movie.
Well, um, not much, really. I can’t think of anything about this movie that sucked.
I got nothin’.
But since we’re on the subject of remakes, reboots, sequels, etc., I will note that “Jay and Silent Bob Reboot” has one issue that cannot go unmentioned (even though IGN has also touched on it).
Accessibility to New Fans (Jay and Silent Bob Get a Target Audience)
Anyone who has followed Kevin Smith’s ViewAskewNiverse knows that the movies are sequential and make up a continuing storyline. The narrative assumes that you are there from the beginning and follow along. If you become interested in the characters later on, you have a nice binge-watching weekend to look forward to. The first three movies (“Clerks,” “Mallrats,” and “Chasing Amy”) stand pretty well on their own. From “Dogma” onward, you have to go back and catch up or miss out on key plot points and jokes.
Characterization (Jay and Silent Bob Grow Up)
Buddy comedy duos generally remain static. When we see Cheech and Chong’s “Pedro and Man,” Wayne and Garth from “Wayne’s World,” Harry and Lloyd from “Dumb and Dumber,” Bill and Ted, etc., we know what to expect. We are there at the movies to see bumbling stoner idiots make us laugh. If we’re lucky they might score babes, learn a lesson, whatever, but otherwise they’re not there to develop as characters. They are gag delivery systems, and they’re usually enjoyable enough to be worth the ticket price.
Jay and Silent Bob, for their part, went beyond the usual shticks. Granted, they started the movie as the same stoners hanging out in front of the Quick Stop that they’ve been for the past couple of decades. Silent Bob went vegan (naturally) and got a smart phone that adds emojis to the shtick, but otherwise they’re still the same.
As you recall from “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back,” Jay and Silent Bob scored babes, which served for nice character development. Little did we know how well that would pay off here. Jay’s daughter Millie (played by Kevin Smith’s real life daughter, Harley Quinn Smith) takes what starts as a typically raunchy comedy and propels it into the stratosphere. Like the ship that is her namesake, she makes the Kessler Run of characterization in 12 parsecs.
We will probably never know how Pedro and Man or Wayne and Garth would have been as dads. Buddy comedy movies usually don’t go there. The argument is, that would ruin the characters. Speaking just for Jay and Silent Bob, the family issues give the characters depth that works amazingly well with all the dick jokes. Not only does the Millie/Jay subplot not ruin the movie, it makes us hope that she comes back for “Clerks III.”
Could we expect anything less from a movie dedicated to….
Fanservice (Jay and Silent Bob Pay Homage)
“Jay and Silent Bob Reboot” got 67% on Rotten Tomatoes, in no small part because of its sheer level of meta jokes and fanservice. AV Club called the movie “one-joke” because of the recurring tropes. IGN noted that you “might” get tired of all the meta jokes.
But we are the CineMasoCast. We are not IGN or AV Club or anyone else on RT. As much as we appreciate fellow media critics, we have a different job to do, and that necessarily requires a different outlook. It’s why you read us and not just them. Notice that I do not list meta jokes/fanservice under What Sucked.
Personally, I love meta jokes. By now you either “get” ViewAskewNiverse movies or you don’t. If you “get it,” you can not only appreciate but enjoy how much of Kevin Smith’s ego permeates his work. For that matter, you relate. We’re going on 30 years with him, and if he was anything less than “the real deal” as far as being a regular dude who just happens to be worth millions (thanks to all of our fan support), we would have caught that by now. If you as a creator are just stroking your ego for attention, money, etc., sooner or later people catch on.
Kevin Smith clearly does what he does because he wants to share his love of all things geek with the world. If that means working in all the Easter eggs about his other movies and all the celebrity cameos and all the dirty meta jokes he can throw in, bring it on. He appreciates how pop culture works, how it changes, and what he needs to do to work with it. If we’re gonna hate on him, it’s only because he’s the one who’s making phat bank as a geek while we’re not.
I mean, hell, it would have been disappointing AF if Dante hadn’t whined, “I’m not even supposed to be here today” as he’s getting faceplanted on a cop car by the SWAT team. Some jokes get repetitive after the first hundred times; others are so funny that they never get old and we repeat them ourselves. That’s one of the greatest ongoing challenges in all of comedy: knowing the difference between the former and the latter.
The particularly noteworthy set of meta jokes that I have to address is the comic shop scene. Brodie’s description of sequels, reboots, and remakes is about to take its place among the greatest YouTube clips of all time. His comments have a lot to do with why I started a little CMC series called The Next Geek Thing. It’s my own epic quest to find great geek movies that are not sequels, reboots, remakes, adaptations, or throwbacks. I hope you join me for it; in the meantime, I must give a nod to a great scene that says a lot of what I have been talking about.
Of course, there is so much to unpack about “Jay and Silent Bob Reboot,” but with any luck you also “get it.” Thanks for joining me on this effort to hit its high points.
(In case you missed it, or for your own refresher, check out a related piece from a CMC colleague who also “gets it.” My own BFF of 30 years Geoff Harris did his take on “Clerks,” and since “Jay and Silent Bob Reboot” is a delivery system for ego stroke shout outs I would not be a true friend unless I promoted his post right here.)
Catch you on the flip side. Snootchie Bootchies!