Creating your own connected universe is a trend now, but I think it could be argued that Kevin Smith did it first. I owe Smith a lot, to be honest. He was the first director I claimed to be a fan of, and I know his early works like the back of my hand. His films were influential in my exploration of lesser-known titles, while most of my friends were satisfied with whatever the multiplex had to offer. Even now, I give his heart attack and subsequent weight loss the spark that led me to put in a ton of effort to lose 90 lbs. in 2019. I desperately wanted to see Jay and Silent Bob Reboot (2019) on the big screen, but instead had to settle for its digital release. I was very much against Yoga Hosers (2016), but I was happy to see Smith make something that felt familiar yet fresh enough to not just be trying to relive the good old days.
I never like me to include spoilers, so I’m going to leave out many plot details, as I feel it is the most beneficial approach. Plus, if you’re a Smith fan, the celebrity cameos and how he uses them in his films is part of the joy of watching them – thus, I won’t list the plethora of familiar faces Smith wrangled into this picture. Instead, I’m going to focus on what I think worked so well, and a few of the moments that didn’t quite land for me. Overall though, I found this to be an enjoyable and somewhat nostalgic adventure that reminded me why I love his work so much, and still faithfully subscribe to at least one of his podcasts.
When I initially heard that Harly Quinn Smith was cast in this movie and given a major role, I was extremely concerned. Yoga Hosers definitely wasn’t her best performance, and it is easily Smith’s weakest film. I was worried that this film would follow suit. Fortunately, I saw Harley in All These Small Moments (2018), and I clearly saw that she has talent. This role only solidified that opinion. She is absolutely fantastic in this Reboot. Without getting into the complexities of the plot, Milly (Quinn Smith) is tough and rebellious – yet vulnerable – because she has never known her father. Harley is able to demonstrate a wealth of range in this performance, and it never failed to impress me.
Kevin Smith’s sense of humor has almost always connected with me. However, there is one gag in this film that really needed to be altered or cut-out entirely. Smith has always played Silent Bob, a character whose name reveals one of the most important details about him: he’s silent. Smith has relied on using his face to express emotions and thoughts. For some reason, that felt overused in this movie, as though he didn’t mind being in close-up. That’s not the issue though…it was the updated version of Silent Bob that got annoying – he has a cellphone now. Early on, his character is asked to express something, and Silent Bob whips out his phone feverishly begins typing. After a few moments, he flips the phone screen to Jay and reveals an emoji. This joke is reused TOO FREAKING MUCH, and honestly, it wasn’t that funny in the first instance. Had Smith opted to just click a button and show the emoji likely mimicking the face displayed on the screen, it probably would have landed, as his character has always expressed himself with…well, emojis. Instead, it feels tedious and very redundant, even with the one moment where it kind of pays off late in the film.
With that said, many of the other jokes landed. Jason Mewes delivers one of the most emotional pieces of writing that I’ve seen Smith deliver, and I was honestly impressed. One of those celebrity cameos delivers another stirring monologue that is a little on the nose, but ultimately worked for me because one of the themes Smith is working through with this film lands close to home. Smith is realizing that life is short and that he lives for a different purpose than his own interests at this point. It shows in this film and that speech, and I get that. Overall, Jay and Silent Bob Reboot earns the Decent Watch rating with a nudge towards Not Quite Golden, Ponyboy, because of my love of his style.