Kevin Smith - Jay and Silent Bob Reboot  [Film] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Kevin Smith

Jay and Silent Bob Reboot [Film] (2019)

Saban Films

There was a time where Kevin Smith swore he would never make any sequels to any of his movies. Hell, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back was supposed to be the final Jay and Silent Bob movie. Before that it was supposed to be Chasing Amy. Kevin Smith is notorious for going back on his word, with dozens of abandoned film projects lying in his wake. Likewise, he keeps going back on where the ending of his “Askewniverse” is, always surprising us with another Askiewniverse movie after swearing there would be no more. Even the True North Trilogy, that Smith has yet to complete, crosses over with the Askiewniverse, with Silent Bob being scheduled to be killed off in the yet to be released third movie. After the early 2000s, Smith expressed a desire to get away from his same recurring characters, but found with movies like Jersey Girl that he tends to struggle without them. Desperate to be relevant again, he threw his “no sequels” rule out the window and decided to focus on just making the movies he wanted to make, critics be damned. And that’s how we ended up with both Clerks 2 and Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, as well as the announced Mallrats 2 and Clerks 3 which I hope actually get made.

At the same time, though, Smith has hit some hard times. First of all, Smith was discovered in the 90’s by Bob and Harvey Weinstein and, while Smith was quick to denounce his former friend Harvey Weinstein after his sexual assault allegations came to light and also sent donations to rape crisis organizations as penance, it still took an emotional toll on him, not to mention taking away his most loyal financial backers. That, combined with some diminishing returns on his post-2000 work, has left him struggling for relevance, with Reboot relegated to Saban Films, a company they make fun of in the movie for primarily being known for the Power Rangers. This film got very poor distribution, spending little time in theaters and very few theaters when it was. Instead, Smith did one of his public speaking tours and attached the movie to the speaking gig, showing the movie and then opening up the floor to questions, all for around $70 . This meant that the theatrical run of the movie made it near impossible to see this movie for less than $70, and since I wasn’t willing to pay that much I had to wait for it to become available on Amazon Prime Video, which it now is.

It was hard to pick a score for this movie, because if I’m going to base my rating on how much fun I had watching it, it would be four stars. If I’m going to base it on whether or not the movie is actually intelligent, clever, original, or, in short, good, well that’s looking more like two stars. It’s hard to believe that even Kevin Smith would make a second Jay and Silent Bob movie with the exact same plot as the first one, but he did that to highlight one of the themes of the movie (yes, this movie even has themes!) which is reboots, be it Hollywood repeating the same stories by rebooting existing properties instead of coming up with something original, or rebooting as a metaphor for having children, thus rebooting yourself.

One of the flaws of the film is that, since Kevin Smith’s career is now focused almost more on public speaking and podcasting rather than on making movies, Kevin Smith’s fans have been welcomed into his personal life in oddly intimate ways, and thus a lot of the inside jokes in Reboot require you to have knowledge, not just of previous Kevin Smith’s movies, but of events in his real life such as the incident where he was removed from a Jet Blue flight because he was “too fat to fly,” and the massive heart attack Smith suffered in 2018. When Smith’s daughter Harley Quinn Smith, who plays a major role in this movie, or Smith’s wife, Jennifer Schwalbach Smith, or Jason Mewes’s daughter, Jordan, appear, you’re supposed to be able to recognize them at a glance to be able to get the jokes. It can make the movie hard to follow for casual fans, making it pretty clear that the movie is specifically for Kevin Smith die hards.

Then again, I’m totally a Kevin Smith die hard, so I enjoyed it immensely. It’s a movie I never thought he would make, and in his younger years Smith has suggested that the characters would start to seem sad if they were still up to the same antics once they reached the age they are now. And the characters, now in their forties, are pretty sad, it’s true, but they’re finally at least starting to grow up with this movie, as Jay stops by to see his love interest from Strike Back, Justice, only to find that she’s been hiding their love child from him for 18 years, and suddenly Jay’s daughter (who doesn’t know she’s his daughter) becomes a part of Jay and Bob’s cross country adventure. The father/daughter plot line tugs at the heartstrings quite well, with Kevin Smith’s own real life daughter, Harley Quinn Smith, doing a surprisingly believable job playing Jay’s long lost, foul mouthed daughter. My only criticism of Harley Quinn Smith’s performance is that she went way over the top in the scene where she first talks about growing up without a father.

For a movie that barely saw a theatrical release, it’s a surprisingly star-studded affair, with guest appearances by Ben Affleck (who seems to finally be back on speaking terms with Kevin Smith), Matt Damon, Chris Hemsworth, Melissa Benoist, Method Man, Redman, Fred Armisen, Tommy Chong, Val Kilmer, Jason Lee, Jason Biggs, James Van Der Beek, and a mid-credit appearance from the late Stan Lee. Smith plays both Silent Bob and himself, as a lot of this movie is self-deprecating humor about him. His performance in the KKK scene is particularly inspired. Jason Mewes, as usual, does an excellent job of playing himself (or probably his younger self) and inexplicably makes his character, a less than enlightened drug dealer, surprisingly lovable and endearing.

While Reboot may not be a cinematic masterpiece, it’s much better than I would expect this trip back to the well to be. Those who aren’t as big fans of Kevin Smith may say that this movie feels like a pathetic attempt to rehash Kevin Smith’s 90’s success, and they won’t be completely wrong. But die hard Smith fans will see it as a touching, if dirty minded, love letter to his long time devotees. So if you love Kevin Smith, you need to check out Reboot.