It’s perhaps surprising that Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, the last of Kevin Smith’s films set in the View Askewniverse (just pretending that Clerks 2 doesn’t exist), has held up best in the preceding years. Mallrats and Chasing Amy aren’t really contenders, and Dogma’s “ain’t-I-a-stinker!” take on organised religion seems quaint nowadays: it’s funny to think that it was even slightly controversial. Clerks is a genuinely good film whose influence can be seen in awkward no-budget indie dramedies even now, but for my money, the silliness of JaSSB is the winner.
Thing is, Kevin Smith’s real talent has always been at cleverly assembling really juvenile humour – gay panic jokes, stoner humour, that sort of thing – and Jay and Silent Bob revels in its stupidity. There’s nothing highbrow here: the film is filled with countless references (from Star Wars to the View Askew canon and everything in between) and embraces a sitcom-esque joke-a-minute pace ensuring it’s always entertaining.
There’s some great actors and some terrible actors in the cast, but everyone is doing essentially the same thing – mugging, overacting to the hilt and having a really good time. And that’s what this film is all about: having a good time.