Jay and Silent Bob Reboot is a 2019 buddy comedy written, directed, edited, and starring Kevin Smith. Referring to his 2001 comedy Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Smith has described the film as “literally the same fuсking movie all over again”. This does the movie an injustice because it moves the story along and is one endless joke ridiculing its predecessor. If you have not seen any of the previous Jay and Silent Bob films then none of the jokes will make any sense but as we are big fans of everything Kevin Smith does, it was one of the funniest films of all time.
It is the eighth film in the View Askewniverse. The film also stars Jason Mewes, and features cameos from old friends Brian O’Halloran, Jason Lee, Justin Long, Shannon Elizabeth, Rosario Dawson, Val Kilmer, Melissa Benoist, Craig Robinson, Tommy Chong, Matt Damon, and Ben Affleck.
The plot centres around Jay and Silent Bob losing a court case to Saban Films, who are making a new Bluntman and Chronic film, Bluntman V Chronic. The two also learn they have lost their naming rights, and can no longer self-identify as “Jay and Silent Bob”.
Jay and Bob visit Brodie Bruce (Jason Lee), who tells them about the Bluntman and Chronic reboot which is being directed by Kevin Smith. The film is largely completed, but a major scene is to be shot at the annual fan convention “Chronic-Con” in Hollywood. Jay and Bob have three days to get to Los Angeles to stop the film from being completed and win back their identities. The two depart for California.
They arrive in Chicago, where Jay learns his former girlfriend Justice (Shannon Elizabeth) works as a local weatherperson. Jay and Bob visit Justice, who tells Jay he left her heartbroken by never visiting her in jail. She has since married and given birth to their love child, Millennium “Milly” Faulken (Harley Quinn Smith). She introduces Jay to their daughter and her best friend Soapy (Treshelle Edmond) but urges him to never reveal his identity to her.
Justice leaves for vacation, and Milly forces Jay to take her and Soapy to Hollywood with him and Bob. Milly drugs Jay and Bob with a strong edible and they wake up on a highway in New Orleans, where they meet Milly’s two other friends, Jihad (Aparna Brielle) and Shan Yu (Alice Wen). They tell Jay that they want to visit Chronic-Con because Shan Yu is a huge fan of the first Bluntman and Chronic film and it is her dream to attend Chronic-Con. They steal a van and drive to California. Milly admits to Jay that her bad behaviour is attributed to her never knowing her father.
Jay and Bob are abandoned by the group, and set off in search of the van. They find it in a vacant area, where the Ku Klux Klan have kidnapped the girls and are having a rally. Bob steals a Klan hood and passes himself off as the new Grand Dragon to distract them while Jay rescues the girls. They throw a portable toilet at the Klansmen and flee.
The group makes it to Chronic-Con and sneak in. Jay and Bob plan to ruin the shoot, while the girls want to be extras in the film to fulfil Shan Yu’s dream. They agree to part ways with Jay hugging Milly and letting her know he is proud of her.
After attempting to sneak past a familiar security guard (Diedrich Bader), Jay and Bob are pursued throughout the con. They hide in an empty panel room where they are met by Holden McNeil (Ben Affleck) who has just finished recording a podcast with Alyssa Jones (Joey Lauren Adams). Holden has donated his sperm to Alyssa and her wife (Virginia Smith) so they may have a child whom he helps co-parent. Holden tells Jay that fatherhood gave him a new purpose. This inspires Jay to abort their mission and be a father to Milly. Holden gives them VIP badges, which grants him and the girls access to the panel with Kevin Smith.
Noticing that Bob bears a stunning resemblance to Smith, Milly sneaks backstage and knocks out Smith, giving Smith’s clothes to Bob as a disguise. They bring Milly and Shan Yu on stage to film the scene, but Shan Yu sees through their ruse and knocks Bob unconscious bringing out the real Kevin Smith. Bob is thrown out of the hall and Shan Yu reveals herself to be a Russian spy bent on destroying American pop culture conventions. Jay reveals to Milly that he is her father. Bob regains consciousness outside and steals a large metal “Iron Bob” (an “Ironman” rib off) suit that was to be used in the filming of the scene. Controlling the suit, Bob incites a riot at the panel and disarms Shan Yu and her henchmen.
After making their way back home, Jay shows Milly the Quick Stop and tells her the stories of his and Bob’s adventures, including meeting Justice. Dante Hicks (Brian O’Halloran) arrives to open the Quick Stop and bemoans the fact that the steel shutters are once again jammed closed.
In a post-credits scene, Jay tells Milly that for the past twenty-five years, he and Bob have been pranking Dante by jamming gum in the locks.
Following Clerks II, news has appeared often of other titles to be released in the View Askewniverse; these would include Clerks III and Mallrats 2. However, In 2017 Kevin Smith had confirmed that those projects were cancelled and revealed he had written a new film starring Jay and Silent Bob titled Jay and Silent Bob Reboot. The script was already finished when it was announced and it was said that Miramax would produce it. It was announced in January 2019, that Saban Films had acquired distribution rights to the film in association with Universal Pictures. It is the first film in the View Askewniverse not to be produced by Scott Mosier, and the first film in the View Askewniverse since Mallrats not to be produced by Harvey and Bob Weinstein.
Filming was initially set to begin mid-2017, then moved to August 2018, then to November of that same year. After the various delays, filming finally began in February 2019, in New Orleans exactly one year after Smith suffered a massive and near-fatal heart attack.
Production wrapped after 21 days of shooting, which was the same number of days it took Smith to film his first movie, Clerks, 26 years earlier.
Mewes and Smith were attached to star as early as the film’s announcement.
Comic book writer Stan Lee was initially cast as himself in the film but due to his death was instead given a tribute within the film at Brodie Bruce’s comic shop while additionally appearing in the mid-credits through archival footage. The film was also dedicated to his memory. The film’s original third act was to revolve around Lee, with an extended performance from him as a main character; however, given principal photography on the film did not commence until three months after Lee’s death, the entire third act of the script was rewritten.
Ben Affleck was initially not involved in the film. When Affleck was asked in an interview if he got the call for Reboot, he said that, “Your guess is as good as mine.” After hearing about that interview, Smith reached out to Affleck and wrote in a scene for Affleck’s character Holden McNeil from his 1997 film Chasing Amy. Smith became excited that not only did he get Affleck in the film but that he also got his “… BOYFRIEND BACK!”
Reviewers of the film seem to either get it or not, depending on whether they are Kevin Smith fans. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 66% with a weighted average of 6.39/10. The website’s critical consensus reads: “Fan-focused to a fault, Jay & Silent Bob Reboot tries to mock the same audience nostalgia it’s mining – and pulls it off often enough to satisfy the faithful.” On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 46 out of 100 indicating “mixed or average reviews”.
Writing for The AV Club, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky called this instalment “crude and lazy”, giving it a D+ for crass humour and summing up the plot as “a succession of crudely drawn-out puns, painfully winking self-references and underwhelming, listlessly directed cameos”.
JoBlo.com’s Paul Shirey gave the film an 8/10 and stated, “As comedy is so exceptionally subjective and this film so clearly tied to a somewhat niche appeal, I can only grade it as a fully biased fan of Smith, even if some of his flicks never worked for me, while others touched my cinematic nerve. As a fully Kevin Smith/Jay and Silent Bob comedy with a hefty amount of laughs and heart, this View Askew flick rates among his better works and cemented my resolve to happily revisit these wacky Jersey boys in another decade or so with pleasure.”