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Dimension Collector's Series
Rating: R (For Nonstop Crude and Sexual Humor, Pervasive Strong Language and Drug Content)
Running Time: 104 minutes
Starring: Ben Affleck, Eliza Dushku, Shannon Elizabeth, Will Ferrell, Ali Larter, Jason Lee, Jason Mewes, Chris Rock
Written and Directed by: Kevin Smith
Retail Price: $29.99
Features: Sneak Peeks
Specs: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, English Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Scene Selections (18 Scenes), Two-Disc Set
Released: February 26th, 2002
I've always been a giant (and I mean GIANT... anyone I know can tell you that) fan of Kevin Smith, as I believe he's one of the best filmmakers and writers working today. To me, all his films and a great deal of his other projects are classic. For those who are familiar with Smith's work, you all know that his films point out great themes and a fine sense of truth when it comes to topics of religon, love, popular culture... all with some sense of seriousness, let alone some fantastic humor. I always look forward to what Smith does next, for he really taps in perfectly with people's sense of humor, their thoughts and more or less about everything else.
So I was a bit sad when Smith announced that his next feature, "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" would be a farewell to the duo of Jay and Silent Bob, two hilarious yet crucial characters to Smith's ongoing "New Jersey Trilogy" (I believe "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" finally ends it). The two always had small roles in Smith's films, but again, their presence were key and brought a lot out. So it was only fitting that for their big goodbye, the two would be the focus of a whole theatrical film.
I was really, and I mean really looking forward to "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back." It was my most anticipated film of the summer of 2001. The film was released toward the end of that glorious season, right near the end of August. While I missed the damn sneak preview a few days before it opened (don't sue me Kevin Smith!), I was on line for opening day (first showing, no less). Being the Smith fan I was, and hearing a load about the project (not to mention the great TV spots and trailers), I thought that this finale had a great premise and may be Smith's best yet considering all that I was hyped up for and the return of characters from Smith's other films in cameo roles. So after I got all excited, got to the theater, the lights dimmed, the flick began... and ended. I was sadly disappointed by "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back." But more on that in a moment.
The plot of the film revolves around Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith) that involves a road journey from New Jersey to Hollywood. The inspirations for the "Bluntman & Chronic" comic book, the two learn that a film based on the comic is going into production. The two soon realize that they are entitled to a lot of money due to the film. But what also gets to Jay are some movie geeks on the Internet, bashing the film and the two (sorta) even before it's in production. So it's up for the two to seek revenge... get to Hollywood from New Jersey and prevent the film from being made. Along the way, Jay falls in love, there's a jewel heist, animals and a good deal of pop culture references.
Please don't get me wrong. By no means "Jay and Silent Strike Back" is a bad film. Not by the least. Maybe my expectations were set too high, but the film didn't click with me as exactly as I hoped it would. I think my main problems within the film are with the humor and the story. Don't get me wrong here either. I still think Smith is a talented writer, and with the film, he accomplishes what he wants to very fittingly. But in the end, I felt a bit unsatisfied with the story arc. I felt it was a bit underwhelming for what it was and a bit uneven. I wish there was more depth on the journey the duo face getting to California. I know that this is a light hearted adventure, and it does workwell that way, but for some reason I thought that there would be more zaniness and characters to the mix than with what Smith presents us. I also feel that what he throws into the mix is nothing incredibly new and that how everything is tied gets a little unconvential. The story arc and characters didn't feel as natural as I wish it was. However, Smith must be given credit for making everything work. It all comes together with good development. While the material didn't agree with me as much, he perfectly lampoons and plays the characters as they should. From the smallest cameo right to the big role of Jay, it all works and it keeps the movie from falling down. On another note, I also felt there could have been more time in Hollywood, where I found most of the humor in the film to be.
Speaking of the humor, the film works on two levels that way. For those who are not into the View Askew universe, the film easily works as a straight-forward comedy. Yet for the rest of us who are, they are more jokes to be found, most namely the references to past Smith films which will go over the heads of those who are not familiar with the work. But for the more convential humor, it's really hit and miss. I guess my biggest problem has to be with Jay. I know it's Jay and his nature, but his schtick with sex jokes gets pretty old fast. It's somewhat amusing to begin with, and we know his nature from the other View Askew movies, but it runs out of steam fast. Other jokes that involve the usual farting and crude humor aren't as fresh either. I just didn't laugh as much or as hard as I wanted to. Still, don't take this the wrong way... the film has a servicable amount of humor, and there are jokes that do hit quite well. Like I said before, I found most of the funniest scenes and jokes to be when Jay and Silent Bob finally arrive in Hollywood ("Good Will Hunting 2: Hunting Season" is an instant classic). Besides the crude humor, the other jokes are written with Smith's usual sly wit and intelligence. Those have longer lasting value, since they still work with repeated viewings. Of course, you have your usual cultural references too which are always fun to laugh at and point out. Despite all this, I was disappointed at the lack of laughs I had... I expected to have more. I was also puzzled at some of the humor. I mean, Smith references "Dogma" being made, and in the deleted scenes section of this very DVD, they're are references to the wonderful "Clerks" cartoon getting canned by ABC. Randall understands this, but Dante doesn't. However, toward the end of the film, there's a joke about a "Chasing Amy" movie as if it doesn't exist at all. I found acknowledging one work and not the other in this satire a bit odd. But I have to admit it's pretty funny time in and time out where fun is poked at the audience. Still, if you can't get enough of crude humor and like the smallest things, you'll have a better time here.
What also makes "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" work and fun to watch are the actors. Smith has put together quite an impressive ensemble here, ranging from new actors to old favorites from his past films. Jason Mewes, of course, is the only one who can play Jay and playing his ever famous role (let's hope he's not typecasted in the future). Mewes has impeccable comic timing, great delivery of his dialogue and once again shows what he's been all about during all of the "New Jersey Trilogy" flicks. Mewes has great comic potential to continue to show off, and I hope there is more of him in other roles in the near future. Smith is also perfectly fitting as Silent Bob, while Ben Affleck and Jason Lee reprise their past roles quite well. It was a joy to watch them (and a lot of fun when Affleck plays himself). Shannon Elizabeth shines as Justice, while the other members of the gang (Ali Larter, Eliza Dushku and Smith's own wife) are quite expressive and create the perfect flavor for what they do within the film. Chris Rock is a scream as the racist movie director of "Bluntman & Chronic" (you can never get enough of Rock) while other cameos from past Smith alumni and stars are quite good too (how I love the clerks... you can never get enough of Brian O'Halloran and Jeff Anderson either). If there was one performance I was a bit disappointed with, it was Will Ferrell's. There is nothing wrong with Ferrell in particular. In fact, he's just as great as everyone else in the cast. I enjoy Ferrell's acting work a lot (especially on "Saturday Night Live"), but I felt there could have been more with him and a lot more funnier scenes in the film with him. He shows his talent, but considering the comic greatness and mannerisms he holds, I was disappointed that there wasn't much of that in "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back." Still, it's a fun performance and is entertaining, and he sure has his moments. I just wish there was a lot more of those moments.
While I have mixed feelings over Smith's script, there's no doubt in my mind that his direction is probably his best yet, or at least perfectly on par with everything else he has done. Smith directs his script strongly here, and it shows all over brilliantly. The film moves at a fine and quick pace, whereas Smith perfectly does what he does to do on each scene: he doesn't overdo each scene, he plays it all out as they should be. It's easy for those who direct comedy to overplay and overdo jokes, but Smith avoids that thankfully, which is why I think this movie doesn't get too out hand or too crazy. The editing style and shots Smith use are also great. This is Smith's greatest technical achivement and most polished work to date.
Though one thing that Smith hits *perfectly* on the mark is how he satirzes Internet culture, and the points he make about it that are ever so true. I think the points he make people realize, but not everyone fully realizes them to the core. We have to face that the Internet, to most people, is something that they use constantly. Our culture is truly emerged in the Internet right now, but it's amazing how much it has changed our lives (for the better or worse) as far getting information, security and last but not least, people voicing their opinions. The film pokes fun at the last one most particularly, and it's just so true thanks to Hollywood gossip and rumor sites, where fans obsessed with so many films, shows, games and whatnot criticize and bitch about how they feel toward things - whether it means something to others or just to themselves, people will bash or talk about the stupidest or smallest things. Again, Smith really captures that in some scenes and how people communicate. Smith also satirzes the film industry quite well, as well as other aspects of popular culture we all know and love.
Despite my disappointments with aspects of the story and the laughs, "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" is a fitting farewell to Smith's best known (and most marketable) creations. The duo gets to shine in this final chapter featuring them, and even though I felt the film was flawed, it certainly is entertaining. If you're a Smith fan, there's no doubt in my mind you've already seen the film. For everyone else... it's a decent comedy, but I'd familiarize myself more with the past works of View Askew if you'd like to fully understand a lot more that the film tends to offer. Let's hope Jay and Silent Bob didn't read this review where I bitched... I don't want them flying to my house and kicking my ass.
Presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, the transfer for "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" is near perfection. Except for some nicks here and there, everything about this transfer is great. Exterior locations have a fine look to them, while the interior locations, particuarly the darker ones like the Blunt Cave, do not struggle at all. Detail looks really good, while shadow detail and black levels are dead on. Fleshtones are kick ass, too. Color saturation is pretty much perfect, as the colors are deep, bold and fitting. Be it the yellow of Jay's jacket, the blacks on the cat suits of the fine ladies and the assorted locations, everything looks vibrant. Since the scenary changes a lot, there's a lot to look at here and the transfer keeps up with it all. Again, except for some little things here and there, all the little things of Smith's vision are fully realized here. Very nicely done.
"Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" features a kicking English 5.1 Dolby Digital track that really captures the flavor and spirit of the movie. Dialogue is clear and quite crisp, and the ADR is quite good too. The music also sounds excellent and is well mixed through the channels, with ample use of the subwoofer. Be it the spiffy score from James L. Venable, Jay's opening rap or the climatic Morris Day and the Time scene, it all sounds very good. When it comes down to it all, the surrounds really make this track shine. This just might be Smith's most surround-infused movie, as there are plenty of sound effects throughout the movie. Be it the rumblings and ongoings in the Blunt Cave, the whole jewel heist scene or Jay and Silent Bob on the run, there is tons to enjoy here that really bring you into the movie. It also feels natural, and the surrounds have good imaging and fine use of the subwoofer too. This track is well balanced, as none of these sounds overpower one another. Fidelity and dynamic range are excellent too, making this one solid track. Also included is an French Dolby Digital 5.1 track, English subtitles, Spanish subtitles and English closed captions.
An excellent two-disc set and surely the most packed DVD yet for a Smith film (which says a lot, since all the other past releases of his movies have been filled to the brim with goodies). The first disc doesn't contain much, but surely has some awesome stuff. The Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Kevin Smith, Producer Scott Mosier and Jason Mewes is an amazing listen, as to be expected from a View Askew commentary. Smith and company also do the best commentary tracks as far I'm concerned, because listening to him and who he brings along never becomes dull. While this track features fewer participants than we're used to usually seeing, it's not a big deal because there's no loss of quality here and there's a nicer, enclosed feeling so things don't become too random as on a few past tracks (but those were damn fun).
There is a wonderful amount of information to be found on this commentary, and there's a fine balance between humor and technical information to be found here. Smith remembers names of the crew (well most of them) giving off praise to them, discussing inspirations (mostly from comics, as expected), location shootings and other stuff such as references to his past films, and plugging some of his fine merchandise. There are some hearty laughs to be found here, as Mosier and Smith do most of the talking. Mosier lends himself to some technical details which Smith adds in, while Mewes has some pretty fun comments to say (even leaving to go to the bathroom!). Really, really well done. If you're a fan of Smith's work, this is a must listen. It's amazing how they keep talking and always have something new and something interesting to say. Again, awesome stuff here.
There is some nifty DVD-ROM portions here, including your usual Weblinks, a cool Open-Mic Commentary, a nifty little Screenplay Viewer, Cast and Crew Filmopgraphies and a Guide To Morris Day And The Time (more on that in the DVD-Video portion of it). There are also some Sneak Peeks on the disc, mostly advertising Smith's stuff. Besides a trailer for "40 Days and 40 Nights" and "Dimension Cutting Edge Films," everything else is pure Smith: Clerks, Clerks: Uncensored, Chasing Amy and a soundtrack spot for Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.
Moving on to disc two, probably the plum portion here is the Deleted Scenes. There are 42 (yep, count em... forty-two of these puppies). "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" was originally rated NC-17, so some of the stuff had to be cut down a bit so it could score an R rating. Some other stuff though was cut for pretty obvious reasons. Every single scene is introduced by Smith, and sometimes he has a few of his buddies with him: Jason Mewes, Scott Mosier, his wife (who's in the film) and even his daughter Harley. A lot of these scenes are really fun to watch and do rate high on the laughter scale. When it's all said and done with all the introductions, this lasts a bit over an hour and a half. Very cool indeed, and very enjoyable stuff here that's sure to please fans of the film. The scenes are in non-anamorphic widescreen.
The Gag Reel lasts a few minutes and is pretty amusing, featuring the cast screwing up their lines. Smith and Mewes introduce it, as Smith talks about how he originally debuted it at the Wizard Comic Con and San Diego Comic Con. There are a lot of laughs to be found here. It's presented in non-anamorphic widescreen, except for one little clip with Will Ferrel and Jon Stewart which is in full frame. There are also three Still Galleries that are pretty self-explanatory: "On The Set," "Birth Of A Poster" and "Jay and Silent Bob Comics." All of those are really cool to look at. The poster gallery has some great concept posters, too bad they can't be seen a bit closer...
There are two Internet Trailers, which were originally shown on the View Askew site to give eager Smith fans their first taste of the film. There's an introduction to the trailers detailing their origins and how popular they were, but it becomes pretty funny when Mewes gets confused and it goes on too long. There are also six TV Spots that can be viewed in seperate or together.
Behind-The-Scenes Featurette that lasts a little under fourteen minutes. It's not really promotional (yay!), and it's heavy on fun. There are a bunch of behind-the-scenes clips that are fun, plus full frame clips of the movie. There are also a ton of interviews with the likes of Chris Rock, Jon Stewart, Jason Mewes, Judd Nelson, Scott Mosier, Eliza Dushku, Seann William Scott, Jason Lee, Ali Larter, Mark Hamill, Shannon Elizabeth, Will Ferrell and Kevin Smith. Much of this featurette focuses on Jay and Silent Bob themselves (even brief clips from past Smith films). Smith talks about it being the last film, and the cast and crew reflect on the film and the characters (the behind-the-scenes footage is really cool). Excellent stuff overall.
On the second page of the supplements, we have Morris Day And The Time: Learnin' The Moves. This lasts nearly two minutes and is in full frame, it's basically a back stage look at the Morris Day And The Time sequence with some cool dance moves. The footage is a bit rough, but it's pretty neat. Even neater is the Guide to Morris Day And The Time. An extensive text history of the band can be found here with photos, a filmography and discography. After reading through all this, I think I'm a Morris Day And The Time expert now. Nicely detailed.
There are two Music Videos: Afroman's "Because I Got High" in non-anamorphic widescreen (damn its catchiness... even if the music sounds vaguely familiar from another song, hmm) and Stroke 9's "Kick Some Ass" in full frame. And both star Jay and Silent Bob (hoorah!). There's also Comedy Central's Reel Comedy special, which aired on the network in full frame. This is a fun promo feature with clips from the movie, interviews with Jay and Silent Bob (yes, in character) and much more. Reel Comedy has always been a program that plugs the films in a creative way that does stuff in-character, always disguising it well. This is no exception, lasting two second under twenty-two minutes.
There are some Cast and Crew Filmographies with birth information and biographical trivia and some pretty neat Storyboards that can be viewed... even if some aren't directly related to the film.
It's sad to see Kevin Smith's "New Jersey Trilogy" finally come to a close (five years later), but "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" wraps everything up in a great way that is sure to please all of his fans. This DVD is one excellent release with a near-flawless transfer, superb sound mix and a wonderful amount of detailed extras. If you're a fan of Kevin Smith, is is an obvious must buy. If you bought all his other fine films on DVD, then you shouldn't be stopping now.