Jay and Silent Bob Reboot | Kevin Smith | October 15, 2019
Going into the Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, it most certainly helps to go in with enough basic knowledge and familiarity with the world and characters of director Kevin Smith, all of which come back in big ways and small in the 19-years-in-the-making sequel to Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.
When we catch up with the aging Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith), they are growing marijuana at the old RST Video Store which they have rebranded as the ever-appropriately named chicken joint Cock Smoker serving as a front for their enterprises. They get arrested and are swindled in court by a lawyer who has them sign away their rights to the characters of Jay and Silent Bob, which allows Saban Films to go ahead and make Bluntman v Chronic, the sequel to Bluntman and Chronic from the 2001 film, directed by who else but Kevin Smith playing a version of himself.
So Jay and Silent Bob must once again venture out to Hollywood to crash the fan convention Chronic-Con in Los Angeles in order to put a stop to this madness with plenty of ensuing hijinx. Along the way, they meet a variety of colorful characters both new and old, including Jay’s old flame Justice (Shannon Elizabeth). They make a pit stop to pay her a visit and Jay learns that she actually has a daughter Millennium Faulken (Harley Quinn Smith), who happens to be Jay’s daughter. This turns his world upside down and makes it tough when she and her friends Soapy (Treshelle Edmond), Jihad (Aparna Brielle), and Shan Yu (Alice Wen) force Jay and Silent Bob to take them with them so Shan Yu can live out her dream to appear as an extra in Bluntman v Chronic.
If you haven’t seen the first Jay and Silent Bob or aren’t familiar with Smith’s early arsenal of films, it’s unlikely that this sequel will do much for you, apart from provide a few random chuckles at some insane moments and the various cameos. While there are plenty of wild and silly moments that you come to expect, it also has some surprisingly mature moments that see Smith reflecting on some of his older works, as well as life as an older man and father. It’s nice to see so many familiar faces and characters return here (of course, I will not spoil any), even if it does ultimately feel like a lot of fan service at times. But when you venture back into this world, especially with such a meta and self-aware look at Hollywood and Smith’s own inner circle (even joking about some of his own bombs, as well as the casting of his daughter Harley Quinn Smith in a prominent role) with plenty of winks to the audience (sometimes quite literally, breaking the fourth wall).
The heart of the story is the ever-growing relationship between Jay and his daughter, who has no idea who her father is and doesn’t have the slightest inclination that she is riding across the country with him. Jay wants to tell her but also comes to the realization that he would be a disappointment to her and has guilt about all the missed time. These themes may only be surface level at times, but there is enough genuine heart there that works well enough and is a welcome surprise considering I expected more profanity-laced humor than anything else. And there is plenty of that – and not all of it works – but thankfully Smith does dial it back a bit this time around, given he’s two decades removed from the last film. A lot has changed for all of us since then.
The Jay and Silent Bob Reboot works slightly better than expected considering the nearly 20-year gap between the two entries. A lot of what you expect is what you get, but there are enough attempts to try and give such a silly tale a little bit of humanity, heart, and a slightly more mature feel, something I don’t think many of us saw coming from a sequel to Jay and Silent Bob.