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Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back

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  • Noel Vera
    Spanking the movie Noel Vera The appeal of Kevin Smith’s films have always been a mystery for me. All I see is a man as inept with the movie camera as John
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 2, 2001
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      Spanking the movie

      Noel Vera

      The appeal of Kevin Smith�s films have always been a mystery for me. All I
      see is a man as inept with the movie camera as John Landis used to be (and
      still is--those who doubt should check out �Susan�s Plan�) who for some
      reason has won a following amongst the hip (or at least trying-to-be-hip)
      moviegoers today.

      In Smith�s films, it�s almost a miracle the camera�s pointed anywhere near
      the right direction, the picture edited so that you can follow what�s
      happening (though when he speeds up cutting in his action sequences you have
      to concentrate harder). True he is occasionally funny, that he more or less
      captures the psyche of a rather narrow range of human society--mainly white,
      homophobic, middle-class slackers who talk a blue streak--but that�s about
      it. When he tries to write about other people--to write with a lesbian as
      main character, for example (�Chasing Amy�), it turns out that she�s not
      really a lesbian. When he tries for a satire about sanctimoniousness
      (�Dogma�) it turns out that he actually feels affection for Catholicism--the
      jokes are really just good-natured ribbing. For all his attitude, Smith is
      really a timid filmmaker at heart.

      �Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back� doesn�t even try to stretch as much as
      �Chasing Amy� or �Dogma� do; this is more a remake of Smith�s first film,
      �Clerks� but with a bigger budget and with Jay and Silent Bob (who were
      supporting characters) as leads. Smith, apparently, want to go back to his
      roots to say bye-bye; this will be the duo�s last appearance in his films.

      First thing you think upon hearing that is--is that a promise? Jay and
      Silent Bob have consistently been the most cartoonish and simplistic
      characters in Smith�s films; they function as a kind of smartass commentary
      on the action, giving Smith�s point of view on what�s happening at the
      moment. Make THEM the main action, and the end result is--well, not much.
      At least �Dogma� and �Chasing Amy� introduced some fairly interesting
      ideas--that weren�t fully or even competently worked out (but that�s a
      different matter). �Jay and Silent Bob� is a long series of pointless
      vignettes strung together by a flimsy premise (Jay and Silent Bob learn a
      Hollywood movie�s being made of their lives, and rush out to stop it).

      Smith throws in a cartload of actors--Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill, playing
      cameos; Wes Craven and Gus Van Sant, playing themselves; Matt Damon, playing
      himself and playing a character (Will Hunting from �Good Will Hunting�); Ben
      Affleck and Jason Lee, playing themselves, playing characters from other
      films AND playing characters from Kevin Smith�s previous films. All these
      references and cross-references make for fizzy business, which lifts the
      film up for a while but later the fizz subsides, and what you have left
      tastes sour or flat or out-and-out stinks, like bathwater after someone had
      just farted in it. It doesn�t help having filmmakers like Craven and Van
      Sant hanging about(another mannerism Smith seems to have lifted from John
      Landis). They just remind you that Smith, if he applied himself hard and
      had surgery to triple his intelligence might in a hundred years be as good a
      filmmaker as Wes Craven--four hundred, if he wants Van Sant (early Van

      There are takeoffs from �The Matrix� and �Charlie�s� Angels;� there�s even
      an orangutan, the presence of which partially redeems the film (no film with
      an ape in it can be considered hopelessly bad--think Burton�s �Planet of the

      The ending has Jay and Silent Bob dancing with Morris Day and the Time (who
      are so �80s) and a last-minute appearance by Alanis Morrisette (who is so
      late �90s). The film is bloated with pop-culture references and �hip�
      attitude, so much so it forgets to be funny.

      Given all the flaws, it�s still a mystery, my antipathy towards Smith--I�m
      usually appreciative of poor-taste, politically incorrect jokes and
      aggressive, in-your-face attitude. I laughed at �Beavis and Butthead Do
      America,� I like Jim Carrey�s �Ace Ventura� movies, I loved �Top Secret!�
      and I think Trey Parker and Matt Stone (�South Park,� �Orgazmo�) are some
      kind of comic genius.

      But I do have a threshold--�Beavis and Butthead� and �Top Secret!� exhibit
      some comic timing and competent if not inspired editing; Jim Carrey�s �Ace
      Ventura� and Stone and Parker�s �South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut� do
      display genuine insanity. Smith only thinks he�s wild and crazy; he doesn�t
      even possess the same level of ability as the aforementioned satirists.
      This, plus the suggestion in his recent pictures that he�s starting to
      believe his own press--that he�s starting to think he�s actually a filmmaker
      of consequence--makes Smith and his films a particularly repellent

      Probably the funniest joke in the film are the end credits: �starring Kevin
      Smith;� �written by Kevin Smith;� �directed by Kevin Smith�--yeah, right.
      Smith may be a nice and funny guy, and in all probability draws a mean comic
      strip (wouldn�t know, haven�t read it), but if he insists on making another
      film (retiring, as he promised, Jay and Silent Bob in the process), he
      should get union accreditation first; he could get into trouble with what
      he�s doing, trying to masquerade as a filmmaker.

      (Comments? Email me at noelbotevera@...)

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