‘Suddenly you realize you’re not Bruce Wayne anymore…’
No filmmaker has had a bigger influence on my life than Kevin Smith. Those early View Askew movies were a constant throughout my formative years, and I wouldn’t take back a single second of all the time I spent watching and re-watching Mallrats and Chasing Amy. I loved those movies. Weirdly, I always thought the actual characters of Jay and Silent Bob were the worst thing about the View Askewniverse. Their juvenile stoner humour sometimes grated on me, and my love for Kevin Smith came more from his philosophical musings on pop culture than his dick and fart jokes.
After Smith’s last few movies bombed (although I enjoyed both Red State and Tusk), I had misgivings going into Jay and Silent Bob Reboot. Would this potential final chapter of the epic tale of one man and his hetero life mate live up to everything that came before? The answer, almost inevitably, is no. But it also doesn’t trash that legacy either…
Bluntman and Chronic is being made into a film. Again. Jay and Bob must go to Hollywood to protect their reputation. Again. This time however, the morose motherfuckers have something else to contend with – Jay’s fatherhood.
Being a father is Smith’s main preoccupation these days, and this is reflected in both the plot of Reboot, and the cast. Smith will no doubt be castigated for casting his own daughter as one of the leads in his movie, but in truth, Harley Quinn Smith does a fine job here. She manages to bring a surprising amount of emotional resonance to her role as Jay’s daughter, and has also inherited her father’s comic timing. Beyond that particular plot point, Reboot is really just an opportunity to get the band back together one last time. All the usual cameos are present and correct (with a few surprises thrown in along the way), and even after all these years, it’s still exciting to see those characters interact again. Afterall, I will never not be enamoured with Dante Hicks or Brodie Bruce.
As Reboot began winding down, I realised that I had enjoyed returning to this world, but I also felt like the whole thing rang a little hollow. I couldn’t really glimpse that old alchemy that made these flicks so appealing in the first place. And then… Affleck appears. And in delivering his own ‘Amy’ speech back at Silent Bob, a mirror image of a pivotal scene in Chasing Amy, the magic was back. That monologue is the best thing Smith has written in years, and it contextualises everything that came before. Damn, I love Affleck. What’s up now?
Jay and Silent Bob is comfortably the worst View Askew movie, but it is also about as good as it could’ve been, and after Smith’s decline in recent years, that is enough.