September 6, 2001

Bring It On

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Like the evil Empire in the movie with the suspiciously similar title, Jay and Silent Bob are back with a vengeance. In writer-director Kevin Smith’s Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, the duo is out to stop the World Wide Web from slandering their upstanding reputations. Their attempt at doing so is the subject of this very funny, very smart picture.

Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (the multitalented Smith) are banned from their regular New Jersey hang-out, and in the search for something new to do, discover that a movie is being made about comic book characters — Bluntman and Chronic — whose likeness is based on them.

At first, they want a piece of the action, and confront the comic’s writer, Holden McNeil (Ben Affleck, who later plays himself as well). He in turn reveals to them how hated their characters are on an Internet movie site’s messageboard. Unable to distinguish criticism of fictional characters from criticism of themselves, Jay and Silent Bob set out to thwart the production of the movie. Their journey west is an unusual one, complete with encounters with a sexually-warped vagrant, leather-clad jewel thieves, and an orangutan. The trip is so wild that it almost seems drug-induced.

Beneath a veil of sex jokes, fart jokes, and drug jokes, three of the cornerstones of contemporary American comedy — and all represented in this film copiously — Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back offers smart commentary on many of society’s idiosyncrasies. Like his portrayal of organized religion in Dogma, Smith here takes on issues such as the treatment of homosexuals, the paucity of African-American filmmakers (how many black directors can you name besides Spike Lee?), and the Internet as an ever-expanding medium of faceless personal expression.

The performances complemented the script well. Mewes and Smith, after several pictures together in the same roles, have their characters down pat, and are as drug-addled and bizarrely humorous as ever. Additionally, many supporting actors nearly eclipsed the smoky aura of Jay and Silent Bob themselves. Saturday Night Live regular Will Ferrell is hilarious as bumbling Federal Wildlife Marshall Wilenholly who is on the trail of a liberated orangutan. Shannon Elizabeth, Eliza Dushku, Ali Larter, and Jennifer Schwalbach are quite appealing as a quartet of diamond thieves — think Charlie’s Angels turned to the dark side. And who can argue with a cameo appearance by the crew of the Mystery Machine, complete with a verbose Scooby-Doo?

With Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, writer-director Kevin Smith again successfully blends the oftentimes oil-and-vinegar nature of crude comedy and smart satire into a single harmonious unit. Like its numerous predecessors, it doesn’t disappoint.

Archived article by Adam Cooper