Director: Kevin Smith

If you've read my reviews for Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, and Dogma, you might have noticed a recurring trend: the repeated appearances of Jay and Silent Bob. The dynamic duo of the "Askewniverse" movies, they always appeared in the background, supporting characters to the main action. But when Kevin Smith decided to retire the "Askewniverse," he decided to move his two most popular creations into the forefront. How does it hold up with its four predecessors?

JAY AND SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK (2001)The story begins sometime in the 1970s, with the infant versions of Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith) being deposited by their mothers in front of the Quick Stop convenience store from Clerks. As we flash forward to 2001, we discover that they've more or less been there ever since. Due to their frequent run-ins with Quick Stop clerks Dante Hicks (Brian O'Halloran) and Randal Graves (Jeff Anderson), they're forced to find a new hangout spot after Randal has them arrested for selling drugs and bans them from the store.

So now we won't have a reprisal of Clerks for the length of the movie. Soon after their banning, Jay and Bob pay a visit to the local comic book store and run into its proprietor, Mallrats character Brodie Bruce (Jason Lee). Brodie informs the duo that Miramax has picked up the production rights to the "Bluntman & Chronic" comic book seen in Chasing Amy, and B&C co-creator Banky Edwards (Jason Lee in a dual role) is cheating them out of money they rightfully deserve thanks to likeness issues and whatnot. After paying a visit to the other Bluntman & Chronic co-creator, Holden McNeil (Ben Affleck) and discovering some rather harsh critiques on the Internet, Jay and Bob decide to hike to Hollywood and stop the movie from getting made (and collect a "fat movie check" to boot).

They encounter colorful characters like a hitchhiker (George Carlin) who may or may not be gay, a nun (Carrie Fisher) who apparently never heard "the rules of the road," and a group of five kids that are eerily similar to the Scooby Gang (the cartoon one, not the Buffy one) before they're finally picked up by Sissy (Eliza Dushku), Chrissy (Ali Larter), Missy (Jennifer Schwalbach), and Justice (Shannon Elizabeth). Four jewel thieves posing as animal activists, they've picked up Jay and Bob to be their patsies and release all the animals in a pharmaceutical testing lab while they make their thirty-seventh jewel heist next door. Jay's instantly smitten with Justice (who doesn't even fit the rhyme scheme) and has absolutely no qualms with doing anything she asks him to, so they break into the lab and set all the animals free, while the four girls accidentally set off the burglar alarm and have to make a break for it. After the girls blows up their van to give themselves some cover, Jay and Bob believe them to be dead, but continue their planned trip to Hollywood undeterred with an orangutan named Susanne in tow.

However, little do they know that they've become wanted fugitives with federal wildlife Marshall Willenholly (Will Ferrell) on their tail. The pair soon arrives in Hollywood, where we enter a bizarre world to end all bizarre worlds. They break into the Miramax studio, and with both guards and Willenholly after them, Jay and Bob end up as extras in Good Will Hunting 2: Hunting Season, crash the set of Scream 4, and finally end up in a dressing room for Bluntman & Chronic: The Movie. After beating up the movie's stars (James Van Der Beek and Jason Biggs, playing themselves) and taking their wardrobes, and end up getting called to the set for filming. Things all come to a head when Marshall Willenholly has a run-in with Justice and the other three jewel thieves, and Jay and Bob finally get their own run-in with the aforementioned Brodie Bruce.

If any movie requires you to have some knowledge about its characters, Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back is it. The movie is basically one gigantic in-joke, where only Smith's fans or friends will get any of the winks and nods directed toward them (though some of the most inside of inside jokes were left on the cutting room floor). This flick was made for nobody but Jay and Bob's most hardcore fans, as it rightfully should have been. Taking center stage for the first time, both Mewes and Smith are the most hilarious they've ever been. Smith's script isn't as strong as it could have been, but considering the two main characters, there's no real problem with it. It provides lots of funny quotable lines, so I definitely won't complain about the script. Will Ferrell and Chris Rock (who plays the B&C movie's racist director Chaka Luther King) are great, and many of the cameos (like Mark Hamill as Bluntman and Chronic's cinematic archenemy "Cock-Knocker," Affleck and Damon as themselves, and the live performance of "Jungle Love" by Morris Day and The Time at the end of the movie) were all very much enjoyable.

As a whole, I'm gonna give Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back three stars. It's not Kevin Smith's greatest, but it's definitely a great note for Jay and Silent Bob to walk out on.

Final Rating: ***