DIRECTOR HAS RIGHT TO REMAIN 'SILENT,' BUT DOESN'T.
Is a dumb movie any smarter by recognizing its stupidity? Is Ben Affleck any more tolerable because he expresses self-loathing for the terrible movies that he has made? Can a movie studio mock itself and laugh all the way to the bank?
These are among the many questions that run through your mind as you watch Kevin Smith's tiresome, desperately unfunny new movie ``Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.'' Ostensibly a valentine to the loyal fans who have followed Smith's career through the good (``Chasing Amy''), the bad (``Dogma'') and the ugly (``Mallrats''), ``Jay and Silent Bob'' is an exercise in idiocy, made all the more tedious by its recognition of its own laziness.
The two slacking stoners of the movie's title have appeared in all of Smith's movies, but always in the background and always in small doses. Giving them their own movie is like giving Michael Richards' Kramer character his own TV show. It doesn't work because these characters can only be tolerated for short periods of time.
Of course, if Smith had bothered to write a decent script instead of a pastiche of simple-minded jokes about oral sex, gays and penises, then maybe spending time with the title characters wouldn't be as much of an exercise in boredom. There's also a running attack on Internet film geeks who bash movies, which seems rather self-defeating.
The film finds stoners Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Smith) outraged that Miramax Films is making a movie adapted from the ``Bluntman and Chronic'' comic book that was based on their lives. Their ire isn't sparked so much by the fact that they weren't paid for their trouble; nope, they're mad because on the Movie Poop Shoot Web site (modeled after Harry Knowles' Ain't It Cool News), people are calling them names. So the two losers head to Hollywood to stop Miramax from making the movie.
Along the way, they meet cartoon-like characters played by Smith cronies like Affleck, Chris Rock, Joey Lauren Adams, Jason Lee and George Carlin, along with some new people like a band of ``Charlie's Angels'' jewel thieves (Shannon Elizabeth, Ali Larter, Eliza Dushku and Smith's wife, Jennifer Schwalbach) and a dimwitted federal wildlife marshal (Will Ferrell). There are spoofs of ``Star Wars,'' the original ``Planet of the Apes'' and ``Scooby Doo'' and so many gags about homosexuals that one character is prompted to look into the camera and call the movie ``a 90-minute gay joke.''
Well, not quite. But the humor in ``Jay and Silent Bob'' is so repetitive - from the references to penises to Smith's monotonous facial expressions as Silent Bob - that it feels like watching a never-ending tape loop of the same bad joke. There are, to be fair, a couple of funny cameos once the boys arrive in Hollywood, but even then, the supposedly subversive barbs toward Miramax feel like they were approved by studio heads Harvey and Bob Weinstein. There's no sting, only selndulgence.
If this is, as Smith promises, Jay and Silent Bob's swan song, we can only say good riddance, agreeing with the character in the movie who notes that ``you outgrow the jokes.'' He didn't specify what birthday, but age 13 sounds about right.
``JAY AND SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK''
(Rated R for nonstop crude and sexual humor, pervasive strong language and drug content)
The stars: Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Shannon Elizabeth, Ben Affleck, Will Ferrell, Chris Rock.
Behind the scenes: Written and directed by Smith. Released by Dimension Films.
Running time: One hour, 44 minutes.
Our rating: One stars