‘Jay and Silent Bob Reboot’: Is It Better than ‘Strike Back’?

For the past couple of decades, Kevin Smith fans have seen the filmmaker’s career take some unexpected turns. The man behind quick-witted comedies like Clerks and Mallrats has entered a darker, more bizarre stage of his career recently, with more polarizing fare like Red State and Tusk. Now he returns to his roots — and most popular characters — with Jay and Silent Bob Reboot.

The new film sees Jay (Jason Mewes) and his “hetero life mate” Silent Bob (Smith) return to the screen for the first time since 2006’s Clerks II. Eighteen years after they stormed Hollywood to stop a film based on them, the stoner duo must repeat the feat all over again. But how does Jay and Silent Bob Reboot stack up to 2001’s Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back?

Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith at Los Angeles Comic-Con
Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith at Los Angeles Comic-Con | Chelsea Guglielmino/Getty Images

A new View Askewniverse adventure

Since the very beginning of Smith’s career, Jay and Silent Bob have been the glue tying everything together. They play major roles in Smith’s first four films and earned lead roles with Strike Back. Accordingly, their own movie paid homage to everything that came before, with cameos from countless Smith regulars.

This interconnected universe has become known as the View Askewniverse, named after Smith’s View Askew Productions. In the first Jay and Silent Bob film, the character appearances have a certain novelty to them. But Reboot may wind up being a more satisfying experience for longtime fans.

Much like The Avengers, Strike Back is exciting because of how new it feels. All these films which Jay and Silent Bob have borne witness to feel like integral steps to their own adventure. Reboot then is the Avengers: Endgamein more ways than one — as it doubles down on the emotional impact of the returning cast.

Retreading old ground from a new perspective

When familiar characters appear in Reboot, they bring with them a level of poignancy that just wasn’t present in Strike Back. Of course, Smith and co-star Jason Mewes have both changed quite a bit since they last played the characters. So, it stands to reason that Jay and Silent Bob Reboot would feel like a very different movie.

Even though the film is similarly packed with tons of cameos, the story’s focus on fatherhood gives it a much sharper thematic focus. Sure, Reboot does feature plenty of meta-humor about the industry, Smith’s career, and Strike Back specifically. Yet, its concern with legacy — both Smith’s own as well as that of his characters — lends Reboot more heart than fans might expect.

Jay and Silent Bob all grown up

Notably, Smith almost didn’t live to make Jay and Silent Bob Reboot. And the passion he has for what he’s created is apparent in every frame. In a pointed manner, Reboot even ushers Smith’s daughter, Harley Quinn Smith, into the Jay and Silent Bob saga.

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back is certainly a stoner comedy classic. But the nearly two decades since then have given birth to something much richer. Even though Reboot lays the meta-humor and callbacks on incredibly thick, the film serves as a fitting celebration of all Smith and his collaborators have achieved.

The added life experience has made Jay and Silent Bob Reboot an incredibly satisfying follow-up to Strike Back. We can’t help but get even more excited now that Smith has announced Clerks III is officially happening. By the sounds of it, the film may be Smith’s most personal yet. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.