Clerks | Mallrats | Chasing Amy | Dogma | Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back | Clerks II | Jay and Silent Bob Reboot
Jay and Silent Bob Reboot (2019) is the seventh and, to date, last film in the View Askewniverse. It is a film that describes the fundamental differences between a Remake, Reboot and Sequel while nevertheless managing to be all three – more on that later. 105 minutes long, like Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back it is set between Leonardo, New Jersey and Hollywood California, via Chicago, with the film in many ways a remake of the earlier film in the series Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and like that film the plot involves a film within a film. As Jay and Silent Bob Reboot follows the earlier film's story but has added youth and diversity and being made with love and affection rather than being a pure cash-in, it comes as the director's definition of a reboot.
Jay and Silent Bob are two loafers who nevertheless inspired a comic book in which two characters also called Jay and Silent Bob become heroic vigilantes Bluntman and Chronic to fight crime, erm, make that villains1. After Jay and Silent Bob are arrested for growing marijuana, their lawyer tricks them into signing away the rights to their own names, revealing he was hired by Saban Films to do this. Saban plan to reboot the fictional Bluntman and Chronic film, which was based on Silent Bob and Jay's fictional namesakes. This new film, titled Bluntman v Chronic, is to be filmed by director Kevin Smith. Learning that a key scene in this film is due to be made at this year's Chronic-Con Bluntman and Chronic convention, Silent Bob and Jay travel to Hollywood by using a 'Ride Me' app, planning on stopping the reboot of the film they had previously tried to stop. However having legally lost their names they travel under the name 'Ted Underhill'.
After stopping at a Mooby's Restaurant and watching the television they discover that the love of Jay's life, Justice, with whom he had lost touch due to a misunderstanding, has become a Chicago weather presenter. Tracking her down, Jay learns that he had fathered a child, Millennium Faulken, called 'Milly' for short. Justice makes him promise not to tell his daughter that he is her father as Justice is now happily married. When Milly learns that Silent Bob and Jay are travelling to Chronic-Con – somewhere she and her friends from her support group, Jihad, Soapy and Shan Yu are desperate to go to – she forces Jay and Silent Bob to take them along too. The reason Milly was in the support group was because of her feelings at being abandoned by her unknown father.
Can Jay connect with his daughter? What adventures will they experience and who is secretly wearing a catsuit under their clothes? Will vegan Silent Bob be able to order anything he can eat in a Mooby's burger restaurant? Can Silent Bob disguise himself as Kevin Smith? Who else will cameo along the way?
I hate this guy [Kevin Smith]. He forces his kid to be in everything he makes.
- Milly (Harley Quinn Smith) discussing Kevin Smith and his daughter Harley Quinn Smith
Actors and characters in Bold appear in other films in the View Askewniverse.
|Jay, inspiration for comic character Chronic coming to terms with being a father||Jason Mewes|
|Silent Bob, vegan inspiration for comic character Bluntman||} Kevin Smith|
|Kevin Smith, overrated director|
|Millennium 'Milly' Faulken, Jay's secret lovechild with Justice||Harley Quinn Smith|
|Brodie Bruce, comic book store owner||Jason Lee|
|Holden McNeil, comic book author and Amy's father||Ben Affleck|
|Alyssa Jones, Amy's mother||Joey Lauren Adams|
|Justice Faulken, Jay's former partner, Milly's mother and Reggie's wife||Shannon Elizabeth|
|Dante Hicks, Quick Stop manager||} Brian O'Halloran|
|Grant Hicks, newsreader|
|Miss McKenzie, Mooby's Manager||Jennifer Schwalbach Smith|
|Judge Jerry N Executioner||Craig Robinson|
|Jihad, member of the support group||Aparna Brielle|
|Soapy, Milly's deaf best friend met in support group||Treshelle Edmond|
|Shan Yu, Chinese exchange student in support group||Alice Wen|
|Todd 'Merkin' Merkinsky, 'Ride Me' driver||Fred Armisen|
|Loki, former angel now reborn||Matt Damon|
|Reggie Faulken, Justice's wife||Rosario Dawson|
|Reboot Bluntman||Val Kilmer|
|Reboot Chronic||Melissa Benoist|
|James Van Der Beek, actor who had appeared in Bluntman & Chronic||James Van Der Beek|
|Jason Biggs, actor who blames Kevin Smith for ruining his career with Jersey Girl||Jason Biggs|
|Chris Hemsworth, actor appearing as a hologram||Chris Hemsworth|
|Alfred, Bluntman & Chronic's Butler||Tommy Chong|
|Alyssa's partner||Virginia Smith|
|Amy, Alyssa and Holden's daughter||Logan Lee Mewes|
|Stan Lee, comic book legend||Stan Lee|
Remaking the Reboot
Stan Lee had been intended to play a pivotal role at Chronic-Con, but he died before he was able to film his scenes. A poignant mid-credits scene shows both Smith and Lee discuss the role and Lee reads his first line from the script. Fittingly, this lets Lee get, if not the last laugh of film, one of the last. (The film ends by revealing who had gummed the locks up in Clerks, 25 years earlier.)
The film was distributed by Saban Films in the United States and Universal Pictures elsewhere. The courtroom scene discusses how Saban, the company behind the Bluntman and Chronic reboot, is best known for Power Rangers.
Replacing the scenes that had intended to feature Stan Lee, Ben Affleck returns playing Holden McNeill with Joey Lauren Adams again as Alyssa Jones in a scene written while filming was underway. This scene, reuniting the stars of Chasing Amy, was particularly unexpected as Affleck and Smith had not spoken to each other for a decade. Different interviews given by Smith give different reasons for this. In some he has said that they had simply drifted apart over the years. In others it is implied that they had a major falling out2. After reading an interview in which Affleck said he would like to appear in Smith's next film, Smith contacted him and offered him a role. After initially wondering what role to cast Affleck in, as every character had been cast with the exception of Cocknocker3, Smith wrote what he felt the fans would most want to see. He later described the experience of reuniting with Affleck with the words, 'I got my best friend back again'.
A paean to fatherhood, this film is full of references to Kevin Smith's real life, mocking how he had once been thrown off a commercial airline because of his weight, his near-fatal heart-attack and subsequent conversion to veganism. One particularly self-referential moment is when Smith's real-life daughter Harley Quinn Smith's character Milly states that she hates Kevin Smith films for always featuring his daughter who she says is now supposed to be an 'actress', referring to and mocking critics who have accused Smith of nepotism, while Jason Mewes' daughter also cameos, playing Amy. Harley Quinn Smith's performance throughout more than justifies her lead role position as she is able to convincingly convey the wide range of emotions her character experiences. In the film Smith playing himself states that it was much easier to get celebrities to agree to cameo in his (fictional) film following his near-fatal heart attack, when that is very much true.
In the film Brodie explains what he sees as the differences between a Remake and Reboot. He says that remakes are a new version of a classic film which take the title and nothing else from an existing film and, by purely being a cash-in, result in both a poor film and ruining the reputation of the original. A reboot, on the other hand, maintains everything that was cared for in the original – often referring to it - and adds both youth and diversity. Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, as a sequel to Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, therefore is a reboot about a reboot. As it has exactly the same plot as the earlier film it can initially be seen as a remake, but by featuring the same actors as Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and lots of affectionate references to it, with an additional young, diverse cast, it becomes a reboot, with a film-inside-the-film reboot also.
The film contains numerous references to other films, particularly within the View Askew series. This is fantastic for fans who have grown up with these films over the last 25 years but makes it hard to follow for first-time viewers. Obviously it contains a Star Wars moment, with Jay's daughter being named 'Millennium Faulken'. Other comic references include mention of the Marvel film series as well as Silent Bob turning into 'Iron Bob', à la Iron Man. Brian O'Halloran also cameos as himself alongside his Clerks co-stars Marilyn Ghigliotti (Veronica), Ernie O'Donnell (Rick Derris), Scott Schiaffo (Chewlies Gum Rep), and John Willyung4 for a Clerks 25th Anniversary panel at Chronic-Con, appearing in black & white. When Silent Bob and Jay enter the room of the panel they delightfully turn grainy to reflect the earlier film's aesthetic.
One way the film excels is the way in which Jay's daughter Milly is in many ways remarkably similar to her father, despite having a completely different, privileged background. Like Jay she has a silent best friend, or 'hetero-lifemate', Soapy, who is played by deaf actress Treshelle Edmond. There are numerous nods to previous films, including the very first View Askew logo of the creepy cross-dressing clown5. There are even references to films outside the View Askewniverse, with the lawyer apparently a character from Zack and Miri Make a Porno6. Bluntman v Chronic is a spoof of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) to such an extent that the film-within-a-film has the Bluntman character played by former Batman actor Val Kilmer. Similarly Melissa Benoist, the star of television series Supergirl (2015+), appears as the female Chronic; Smith has directed episodes of her television series.
There are references to other films Smith is fond of too, particularly How High (2001), whose stars Method Man and Redman cameo in a hallucination sequence. Another example is the film's homage to Fletch (1985) in which Fletch encounters a rude, arrogant man called Ted Underhill and gets revenge by using his name and tab, just as Jay and Silent Bob encounter an obnoxious character with the same name and travel across the US by using his name and credit card. Kevin Smith has long been trying to make his own Fletch film adaptation based on the original novels.
Once again Silent Bob gives a lengthy speech at a key moment - after Milly and her friends have been kidnapped by the Klu Klux Klan, he paraphrases a quote from Glengarry Glen Ross (1992) to distract the Klan members for long enough for Jay to rescue the girls.
The one weak point in the film is that it never reveals quite how or why the girls were kidnapped by the Klan, especially considering that they are otherwise always shown as being more than capable of defending themselves, carrying weapons, knocking assailants out and defeating well-equipped Russian spies. Nevertheless, despite this one weak moment, by having numerous strong female characters the film easily passes the Bechdel Test.