Kevin Smith is one of those polarizing artists to which people seem to only have one of two reactions: Love him or hate him. However, Jay and Silent Bob Get Old, which is a concert film of three of their shows on a UK tour, might just be the piece of the puzzle that wins over the haters.
If you’re already a fan, then you’ll gobble it up. If you’re not… then this could be the place to start to explain why you should be. Disclaimer: I fall into the Kevin Smith/View Askew Universe fan boy camp, although not completely unreservedly. On the other hand, I found not a dull moment in what is basically two guys sitting at a table and talking for an hour and change to audiences in London, Manchester and Edinburgh.
Going in, I was expecting to see the same show in three different venues in a heinous case of DVD padding but, happily, I was wrong. While each of the shows is thematically similar, the material is quite different, and tailored to each city and venue, with only one audience set piece at the end repeated — although, because it involves audience participation, it is not repetitious.
The thematic similarity is what will win you over if you’re not a Kevin Smith fan already. The saga of the characters of Jay and Silent Bob — and the film works of Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes — are essentially an eighteen year bromance (the word may have been coined to describe them) as Kevin Smith has pretty much used his filmmaking (and later podcasting) to help his self-described heterosexual life partner overcome his addictions.
In fact, the Jay and Silent Bob Get Old tour was born out of a series of “Smodcasts” which were created as an intervention after Jay fell off the wagon after filming Clerks II in 2006. An ongoing therapy, the most striking moments in each show are when Jay documents his days of sobriety (barely a year and ten months in London), and the platonic love that these two men have for each other shines through.
It sounds strange to say, but it’s true: the entire Jay and Silent Bob saga, from day one, has been nothing but one long love story, as the silent fat man tries to save his skinny hyperactive friend from his own demons, and this is what comes front and center in the three very different iterations of their show.
In each evening, “Silent Bob” starts out doing all the talking, until eventually Jay comes out of his shell and takes over, and then the two of them become a sort of new age Burns and Allen, with Smith falling into the straight man role and Mewes flying off into stories of sex, drugs, sound effects, and what not.
Each evening is definitely rated NC-17 for language, but should be rated G for sentiment — you want family values? Half way through the first performance, you’ll have no doubt that Mr. Smith and Mr. Mewes would do anything for each other, and the feeling just builds in Manchester and Edinburgh.
Each of the three shows ends with a set piece that is, by its nature, very different from venue to venue. Created in the original Smodcasts, it’s called “Let Us Fuck!”, and it involves Jason Mewes and volunteer audience members creating suggested sexual positions. Surprisingly, or not, in every venue there are as many male volunteers as female, although the high point in this DVD collection comes when a Silent Bob fan boy impersonator in Edinburgh takes to the stage and stays in character the entire time.
For the record, Jason Mewes is 38 and Kevin Smith is 42, so they aren’t that old yet. On the other hand, when they unleashed Clerks on the world, Mewes was 20 and Smith was 24, so they might be feeling old. But… if the energy, love, and emotion in this collection are any indication, this is only Act II, and we will have “Jay and Silent Bob Get Really Fucking Old” to look forward to in another twenty or thirty years.
Final tally: if you’re a fan, get this. If you’re not a fan, get this and you’ll get them.