Kevin Smith’s ‘Jay & Silent Bob Rebooted’ is an affectionate love letter to … Kevin Smith
By Johnathan Curley
Where Kevin Smith’s “Silent Bob” character is a man of few words, Smith himself is anything but.
Across a three-hour show Wednesday evening that combined the director/writer/actor’s latest star-studded feature with a marathon-style Q&A, Smith and original star Jason “Jay” Mewes presented “Jay & Silent Bob Rebooted” at the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox as part of their 60-plus-city “Reboot Roadshow” tour.
A follow-up to 2001’s “Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back,” the film follows much of its predecessor’s themes, which, again, force the title characters to hike to Hollywood and, again, pick a fight with a movie industry bent on exploiting their comic book counterparts, Bluntman and Chronic.
The film had all of the sarcasm, profanity and stoner-sourced sense of humor of the first, with a little bit more emotional allowance and a lot more diehard fan service. All in all, “Rebooted” is Kevin Smith’s love letter to Kevin Smith – and he’ll be the first one to admit that.
“The question I get from most people, no matter where I go, is, ‘How much do you hate this movie by now?’ said Smith onstage before the screening. “But I don’t. I absolutely love this movie. This is one giant Kevin Smith fan film made by the world’s biggest Kevin Smith fan.”
Together, the New Jersey-born stoners ride a wave of “View Askewniverse” references while accusing Hollywood, the audience and Smith himself without intruding on a larger reflection of fatherhood and family that’s about as tender as anything else the Jay & Silent Bob universe could produce.
This, plus appearances by Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Rosario Dawson, Jason Lee, Joe Manganiello, Val Kilmer, Justin Long, Stan Lee and more reaffirm Jay & Silent Bob’s status as cult darlings and fixtures in the pantheon of fabled stoner combos like Cheech and Chong and Harold and Kumar.
Where Mewes’ warm-hearted but eternally foul-mouthed “Jay” reigned on the big screen, Smith’s high-powered anecdotes dominated the Q&A, with reflections ranging from gaining ownership of the Jay & Silent Bob name to appearing in “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.”
“We were trying to make ‘Clerks 3,’ that didn’t happen. We tried to make ‘Mallrats 2,’ that didn’t happen. I was so frustrated, I was like, ‘I can’t play with my own toys because I don’t own them.’ But we own ‘Jay & Silent Bob’ and have for years and years and years,” Smith said.
“Years ago, while we were closing the ‘Clerks’ deal, Miramax buying it in perpetuity, I said to my lawyer, ‘Hey, man, do me a favor, since the deal’s not closed, can you put in something that says we can use Jay & Silent Bob again in a movie that they don’t own?’’
Smith’s lawyer then vowed to not only secure usage of the two eponymous characters, but also get total ownership over the name, producing the spark of the “Reboot” plot.
After securing the name rights, Smith’s lawyer explained that in negotiations he said how “Kevin Smith knows that he wants to use Jay & Silent Bob elsewhere in the world, and his friend is named Jay [Jason Mewes] and is afraid you’re going to own him. They want to own themselves.”
The studio reasoned, “The movie is called ‘Clerks.’ It’s about the clerks inside the store, not the guys outside the store. Let them have those characters,” which awarded Smith total control of him and Mewes’ cinematic-stoner legacy.
Later in the Q&A, Smith touched on an invitation from director J.J. Abrams to make a cameo appearance in “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” after his heart attack in 2018.
“When I had my heart attack, J.J. sent me an email and he was like, ‘You better pull through. If you come through this, I’ll put you in a ‘Star Wars’ movie.’ When they went into production, I emailed him going, ‘I seem to remember a deathbed offer.’ ”
After arriving in England, Smith was filmed for three sequences, with the final cut including him as a local strolling around the streets on planet Kijimi while the film’s heroes pass by trying to avoid patrolling Stormtroopers.
“It was nice that I got to be involved, especially because those movies have been in my life and have been in my work forever.”
And in the same vein of Smith’s love for “Star Wars” was the Spokane audience’s love for Smith and Mewes, who owed their informal uniform of flamboyant blazers, hockey jerseys and long hair-corralled-by-ballcap to the two New Jersey boys who stood before them.