The agonizingly long wait for Buena Vista Home Entertainment’s (BVHE) Blu-ray debut is finally over with this week’s release of Dinosaur, Eight Below, The Great Raid and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. That’s right, folks; a Kevin Smith movie was able to trump scores of more visually impressive BVHE titles and worm its way into the BVHE Blu-ray debut. And as expected, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back offers the weakest high definition presentation of the bunch.
Kevin Smith’s View Askew films have built an impressive cult following over the years and Jay and Silent Bob stand out as the two most identifiable characters in pretty much all of them. When a pair of worthless stoners who loiter in front of a quick mart all day long and peddle weed leap from comic relief cameos to central characters, there isn’t much material or motive to build an entire film around. Borrowing the Mike Judge Beavis and Butthead map to success, Smith sends his pathetic losers on a road trip to Hollywood so they can stop a Bluntman and Chronic film from being made with their character’s likeness, beat up Internet nerds who talked smack about them on a fictional website, or both.
Strong or original storytelling is not the crutch from with Smith aims to entertain. Anyone coming in who expects a thought provoking story will be grossly disappointed. The laughably weak plot is riddled with one hilarious cameo after another, the best of which coming in the form of a Good Will Hunting 2: Hunting Season spoof with Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. There are plenty of View Askew characters, in-jokes and stabs at Hollywood than possible to count. Aside from an ill-advised orangutan companion, Smith’s steadfastness to appease his fellow geek fans and not hardcore film critics pays off in spades.
The true star in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back is hands down Jason Mewes as fast talking, vulgar stoner Jay. With plenty of prior practice, Jason has perfected the role of Jay to draw laughs even when Kevin’s Smith’s jokes aim as low as flatulence or gay oral sex. When not stealing every scene he’s in, “all talk, no action” Jay even manages to finally attract the opposite sex courtesy a ravishing Shannon Elizabeth and her band of sexy jewel thieves in tight leather including Eliza Dushku. All these crazy off-the-wall elements are as if Smith finally went all out and painted his ultimate fantasy for all of us to enjoy and his critics to relentlessly bash.
Like Dinosaur, this transfer has been encoded in MPEG-2, though not with the same slam dunk result. The image is a touch softer than the other three releases in the wave, slightly lacking the deep contrast and depth we’ve come to expect from 1080p high definition. The transfer does handle colors extremely well as is evident when Bluntman and Chronic battle their nemesis with lightsabers ablaze, and strong sharpness pays off when Shannon Elizabeth is introduced in sexy slow motion. Ultimately this transfer is not bad, per se, but don’t expect it to be the topic of discussion amongst Blu-ray videophiles.
A PCM 5.1 48 kHz, 16-bit uncompressed audio track provides good balance and sound field penetration, a key considering the ramblings of Jay are often on top of loud noises or blaring music. Those who will be watching this film for the first time on Blu-ray will be surprised by the robust mix that includes explosions, the aforementioned lightsaber duel and several rocking tunes blaring at just the right times.
In addition to a Movie Showcase feature providing quick access to the best home theater demo scenes, a familiar Commentary with Director/Actor Kevin Smith, Producer/Editor Scott Mosler and Actor Jason Mewes found on the two-disc DVD has been included. Yes, this crew is mostly goofy and quite entertaining as they simultaneously bash and praise their work.
It’s hard to imagine the audience most drawn to Jay and Silent Bob and View Askew is the same crowd shelling out close to $1000 for a Blu-ray player. Maybe when Playstation 3 arrives in stores this View Askew production will find a larger audience, but for now, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back is likely to be the last BVHE Blu-ray title from wave one to leave store shelves.
– Dan Bradley