Right - I know you've not seen him for a while, but fear not - the erstwhile Mr Liz is back, for one night only, and undertaking an important cinema assignmennt...
It's been virtually twenty years since Kevin Smith’s directorial debut Clerks introduced the world to Jay and Silent Bob – hereon in called J&SB. The stoner slackers have since gone on to be an American cultural phenomenon appearing to a greater or lesser extent in a further six films, an animated TV series, various music videos and a series of comic books.
After a near eight year gap Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes return the characters to the screen in 'Jay and Silent Bob's Super Groovy Cartoon Movie', based upon a short story written to accompany the 2001 film Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (J&SBSB). It features Jason Mewes’ debut as a producer in a film that he arbitrarily decided would have a budget of $69,000 not so much because he thought that’s how much it would cost, nope just because he thought it would be a funny number to make a film with.
In the new film, that successfully riffs on a number of classics such as Tim Burton’s Batman, Back To The Future and Star Wars, the lovable stoners are about to take part in a Captain America style medical experiment in order to gain the necessary super powers to become crime fighters in real life. Through an aversion to needles they back out at the last minute and instead buy some lottery scratch cards. One ten million dollar lottery pay-out later our dysfunctional duo set themselves up as crime fighters protecting Redbank, New Jersey aided and abetted by author Neil Gaiman’s turn as Albert the man servant.
As any comic book aficionado knows, every superhero needs a collection of supervillains to pit their wits against and J&SB do not disappoint in this respect. Here the potty-mouthed principals of the picture have to deal with such evil doers as Cock Knocker, Dick Head the Teutonic Todger (Ralph Garman channelling his inner Arnold), Lipstick Lesbian, Newsgroup and The Diddler. Many of the cast will be familiar to fans of Kevin Smith’s previous films and includes such luminaries as Eliza Dushku (J&SBSB), Smith’s real life partner Jennifer Schwalbach-Smith (J&SBSB, Zack & Miri) and Stan Lee (Mallrats) along with a few additional unexpected cameos, including a welcome return from someone who ‘wasn’t even supposed to be here today’.
Incidentally, ensure that you watch until the very end of the credits for a special surprise.
But the film was only half of the evening.
Following on was a live recording of the SModcast.com podcast ‘Jay & Silent Bob Get Old’ alongside a question and answer session with Kevin and Jason. The podcast was primarily a discussion about recent events combined with questions from the audience allowing Kevin and Jason to express opinions on pretty much any subject you could care to name in an entertaining and often profanity strewn manner. I should state that Kevin is most definitely not as silent as the ‘Silent Bob’ moniker would suggest and the pair waxed lyrical on all subjects ranging from a flatulence strewn anecdote of a five hour journey up the M6 from Bristol to Jason Mewes activities on a Parisian hotel balcony with his wife via Kevin pushing the boundaries of a non-disclosure agreement he signed during a recent trip to the set of the new Star Wars film.
Jason Mewes acts as a foil to Smith’s discussions and often had the audience in hysterics with his actions as much as his words while also offering moments of extreme intimacy when discussing his well-publicised battles with drugs and alcohol (at the time of writing he’s been clean and sober for four years and one day) along with the support that Kevin has given him in overcoming his demons.
Generally you’ll get Kevin Smith or you won’t. Personally I’ve always felt that I have a lot in common with him, after all we’re approximately the same age, have a great love of comic books, have both worked in convenience stores at various times in our past and the Star Wars Trilogy remains a great part of our lives. OK, so maybe I was a bigger fan of Judge Dredd than Batman but that can probably be excused especially as at one stage in the evening Kevin Smith sang about what he would have been like had he been a Mancunian in the early 80’s rather than a New Jersey native. Although it must be said his accent, at this point, owed more to Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins than any Mancunian I’ve ever heard.
So overall a fantastic evening and I’ll certainly be first in line to buy the film once released in the UK later this year, but I do accept that his humour may not be to everyone’s taste. If you get the opportunity to see them live or on one on the multitude of DVD releases in this format then I whole heartedly suggest that you take it, however for those of you who may be a touch unsure you may want to try downloading some of his free podcasts first. You may end up loving him, you may end up hating him, but you certainly can’t ignore him.
More information on Kevin, Jason and the rest of the ViewAskew team is available on http://viewaskew.com/ or you could just follow their twitter feeds @ThatKevinSmith and @JayMewes for film updates and details of their latest podcasts.