Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001)

Rating: C-

Dir: Kevin Smith
Star: Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Shannon Elizabeth, Eliza Dushku

This is the kind of film where, whenever you find yourself laughing, you are simultaneously cringing at yourself for doing so. The heroes head for Hollywood to stop a bogus movie being based on them, fall in with an all-girl gang of jewel thieves, rescue a laboratory monkey and take random pot-shots at pop culture and Kevin Smith’s other movies, all of which works with wildly variable effectiveness. The central problem is that, as portrayed by Mewes, Jay is such a monumentally repellent figure, with almost no redeeming features, that it would take a total sociopath to root for him. Smith’s Silent Bob is actually kinder, nicer and a far better hero.

The same is true on the other side: Shannon Elizabeth’s character is deeply unappealing, vacuous and vacillating, while Eliza Dushku and her evil jewel-thief buddies are easily as worthy of a spin-off movie as J&SB. There are moments of awe-inspiring inventiveness, but too many self-indulgent and/or totally lame ones. Smith has firmly established he can make this kind of film; it’s now time for him to grow up and put his toys away. With Dogma, he showed he could – after that, this is a big step backwards.