If you ever wondered whether the ViewAskew Universe was still a thing in 2020, well wonder no more. In fact, you might be pleased to hear that 1994’s most beloved stoners are actually in a better place than when we last left them – and we don’t just mean New Jersey.
In Kevin Smith’s unexpected, and perhaps unwanted, reboot of his iconic cash cow characters, we find our heroes once again high tailing it to Hollywood to put the kibosh on yet another big-screen adaptation of their in-universe comic book spin-off Bluntman & Chronic. Sound familiar? That’s because this is also the plot of the 2001 movie Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back, except this time everyone involved is older, wiser, and in Smith’s case, slimmer.
It’s safe to say that Kevin Smith’s movies haven’t felt like Kevin Smith movies since at least Clerks 2, and that’s pushing it. He has long chased the indie success that once made him the most exciting writer/director in the whole world, but sadly most of his post- Dogma efforts have felt a lot like parodies of his own work. This was still the case with Reboot except for one small difference. This time it actually worked.
Speaking of Smith’s other Askew projects, almost all are referenced in Reboot. Whether it’s the Comic Book Men Q&A panel, surprise appearances by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, continued jabs at Cop Out, and even a post-credit cameo from the late, great Stan Lee, this is a who’s who of the Kevin Smith Universe, and a nice way to put a bow on these particular characters – at least until the next movie.
Smith and Mews are on fine form as the ne’er-do-well numpties, not quite channelling their 1990’s selves but providing enough laughs to make them fun to watch, rather than the cringeworthy performances that we’ve seen previously. A much slimmed-down Smith as the formerly rotund Bob is a sight to behold, and the addition of a mobile phone to help him communicate isn’t as naff as it sounds. As for the remainder of the cast, well, no one is getting an Academy Award nomination for appearing in Reboot – unless there’s a category for Best Performance as a Hologram which Chris Hemsworth would win hands down – but they all play their part, no matter how briefly they may grace the screen.
No matter how you slice it, you have to consider Jay & Silent Bob Reboot a success. For the first time in a long time, Kevin Smith has recreated a little piece of nostalgia that doesn’t feel like an attempt to cash in on his own name, but instead rights the wrongs that many (not all) fans feel came about because of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. He even gave his characters the long-awaited third dimension they have always needed, by allowing Mews’ Jay to finally grow up and become a father. It ain’t Shakespeare, but it’s a nice touch. Even more impressive perhaps is how successful Reboot was in its very short stay at the box office. After spending $10 million on production, Smith’s opus clawed back almost 50% of its budget despite only having a 3 day theatrical release. That’s some going, and probably as much of a testament to how forgiving Smith’s fans are as it is a reflection on the quality of the film itself.
In Chasing Amy, Silent Bob describes a very personal experience about how he didn’t know how good he had it with former girlfriend Amy, before he eventually lost her forever. No matter how hard he tried to rekindle the feeling he once had, Bob spent the rest of his life chasing after his ideal, chasing after his Amy. This is the perfect metaphor for Smith’s movies, both for us as fans and for the director himself. However, Jay & Silent Bob Reboot might be the closest Smith ever comes to capturing his elusive white whale. No, he hasn’t found Amy here, but that’s OK too.