From their humble origins in Leonardo, N.J., to their reluctant rise in Hollywood as the dope-smoking dynamic duo “Bluntman and Chronic,” Jay and Silent Bob are the self-acknowledged, smooth-toking blend of Cheech and Chong and Bill and Ted.
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back could make the final installment of a more-or-less trilogy tying writer-director Kevin Smith’s first cult classic Clerks (1994) to Chasing Amy (1997). That would make this more his Return of the Jedi than his Empire Strikes Back. Or for you foreign film nerds (like me), Strike Back is Smith’s Red (1994), the closing film of Polish director Krzysztof Kieslowski’s “Three Colors” trilogy, in bringing back and weaving together characters from his earlier films.
Who’s back? Dante (Brian Christopher O’ Halloran) and Randal (Jeff Anderson), seven years later still the titular Quick Mart employees of Clerks. They get the ball rolling by calling the heat on dope-dealing Jay and Silent Bob. The boys then run to Holden McNeil (Ben Affleck) from Chasing Amy, the co-creator of the “Bluntman and Chronic” comic based on Bob and Jay. He breaks the bad news: His ex-partner Banky Edwards (Jason Lee) has sold the film rights for their characters and the Internet buzz is that the flick will suck.
Our heroes set off for Hollywood to right the potential wrong, hitching a ride first with a live-action version of the cast of “Scooby Doo” and then with a distractingly beautiful ring of Charlie’s Angels-spoofing jewel thieves. Will the two pinheads make it to Hollywood before director Chaka (Chris Rock) dooms them to lameness?
Smith’s coarsely witty dialogue snaps like a bastard child of Woody Allen and Quentin Tarantino-meets-”The Sopranos.” His editing never allows the movie to slow from its highway-speed cruise. He parodies pop culture in a way the Wayans Brothers could only dream about. Smith’s humor may be frat-boyish at times, but underlying it is an acceptance of all races, genders and sexual orientations.
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Backends up as one hilarious nation under a funky groove.
E-mail James Keith La Croix at [email protected].