Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back : Production Notes

Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back (2001) - Movie PosterIn the tradition of the great chase super-comedies of the past, comes a hip, smart, modern version featuring a constant cascade of cameos and irreverent jokes all unfolding on a madcap adventure across the USA. On this road trip, expect a truly wild ride because behind the wheel are Jay and Silent Bob, the two recurring film characters idolized by independent film fans everywhere for their outrageously funny lack of inhibition.

In the first installment of Kevin Smith's New Jersey Chronicles, "Clerks," Jay and Silent Bob were the beloved characters who stole the show in the sleeper hit. They went on to play the Greek Chorus who surfaced for comic relief in the ongoing series, " Mallrats," "Chasing Amy (1997)" and "Dogma (1999). " In the final chapter of the New Jersey Chronicles, Jay and Silent Bob find themselves at the center of a colossal chase from Jersey to California, on a valiant quest to save the "reputations" they think they have and battle the empire known as Hollywood.

Featuring countless cameos from comedians of every generation and style, JAY AND SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK brings back just about every indie actor, major Hollywood star and total unknown who ever appeared in a Kevin Smith film…and then some. The massive ensemble cast includes Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Chris Rock, George Carlin, Kevin Smith, Jason Mewes, Will Ferrell, Shannon Elizabeth, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Joey Lauren Adams, Jason Biggs, James Van Der Beek, Jason Lee, Jon Stewart, Tracy Morgan, Shannen Doherty, Marc Blucas, Eliza Dushku, Ali Larter, Seann William Scott, Jeff Anderson, Brian O'Halloran, Steve Kmetko, Jules Asner, Scott Mosier and Jennifer Smith, as well as other surprises.

In the middle of the mayhem are the most hapless funnymen of all - Jay and Silent Bob, who possess a hilarious willingness to say and do just about anything. It all begins when Jay and Silent Bob discover that their old friend, Banky Edwards (Jason Lee), has sold them out. It seems Banky has gone to Hollywood to produce a motion picture based on the comic book about their alter egos, Bluntman & Chronic, starring two popular young Hollywood actors (Biggs and Vanderbeek) as the duo. The real Jay and Silent Bob are stunned by the news, and then shattered to find out they are being badmouthed on the internet for selling their story. There's only one shot at saving their slacker reputations: head to Hollywood to sabotage the production. JAY AND SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK is written and directed by Kevin Smith and produced by Scott Mosier.

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001)Striking Back at Jay and Silent Bob

Kevin Smith set out to make JAY AND SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK the comedy to end all Jay and Silent Bob comedies. With this film, Smith has decided to give a fond farewell kiss to the universe of colorful characters he created in such films as "Clerks (1994)," "Mallrats (1995)," "Chasing Amy (1997)" and "Dogma (1999)" - including Jay and Silent Bob.

"It's time to put 'em away," Smith says simply. "I'm 30 now and it's the right moment to move on to something completely different, to totally new characters . . . like maybe Ray and Silent Phil, for example. " Seriously, Smith says he intends to explore a different side to moviemaking for awhile after this one. But first, he decided to throw the entire works - every outrageous joke, wild stunt, clever lampoon and laugh-out-loud moment Jay and Silent Bob could ever imagine - into one final film adventure. "This movie has everything - a road trip, girls, a monkey, a movie studio and a cast of thousands," summarizes Smith. "And Jay gets his first on-screen kiss. What better way to end it all?"

Smith decided to make a movie in the tradition of the super-comedies of the past, the kind with a mega-cast and a non-stop flow of funny moments. He explains: "In this flick, Jay and Silent Bob get to be the stars of the picture, but there's such a large and funny cast, you can enjoy other people as well. It's the best of both worlds. "

The history of Jay and Silent Bob began just a few years ago when then unknown writer/director Kevin Smith sold his comic book collection, maxed out his credit cards and made a small independent feature with his friends and local talent. "Clerks (1994)" became the surprise comedy hit of 1994, a frank, funny, shoot-from-the-hip look at New Jersey convenience store clerks, with irreverent jabs at pop culture. "I saw 'Clerks' and I was like, this guy's a genius. I have to work with him," says comedian Chris Rock (Chaka). "It was so funny; it made me want to write a movie. " The film also introduced the world to two consummate ne'er-do-wells: Jay, a loud-mouthed stoner played by Jason Mewes, and Silent Bob, his taciturn sidekick played by Kevin Smith.

Jay and Silent Bob struck a chord in audiences around the world with their hip, hilarious send-up of the Generation X lifestyle, and the duo went on to make an indelibly funny mark in Kevin Smith's next three features. Their trademark slacker humor made Smith one of Gen X's most championed indie filmmakers.

Says Ben Affleck ( Holden/Chuckie/Ben): "Kevin and I have always had the same sense of humor, the same world view. From the first time I worked with him on 'Mallrats,' I was amazed. Here was a guy my age who just really, really, knew what's funny to our generation. "

Jay and Silent Bob also became the stars of their own comic book series, as well as being transformed into action figures, T-shirt logos and even comic book convention costume contest subjects. They became heroes . . . in spite of themselves.

As Smith explains it: "Jay and Bob are two idiots at the forefront of our times, sort of like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, but not quite as bright. "

In fact, the duo became so popular, they seemed destined to have their own movie - a thought Kevin Smith knew the characters themselves might be shocked at, to say the least, especially if it was a Miramax movie being directed by a radical African American and starring James Van Der Beek and Jason Biggs.

"It's more than time for Jay and Bob," adds Rock, "They're the best characters of all of Kevin's movies and now they're finally running the show. "

Thus, the premise of JAY AND SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK was set: a movie about two guys trying to stop a movie. When it came to giving Jay and Silent Bob their own adventure, Kevin Smith decided to let the characters do what they do best. "There's a belly load of laughs in this movie," he says. "Expect no morals or lessons this time around. We're in pure funny country now. "

Smith had the pleasure not only of putting Ben Affleck and Matt Damon together again, but also of bringing two "Star Wars" cast members into Jay and Silent Bob's adventure: Carrie Fisher, who plays a nun swept into Jay and Bob's madness, and Mark Hamill as the comic-book villain "Cock-Knocker. " For Mark Hamill, it was a chance to spoof a character that seems almost beyond satire: Luke Skywalker. "Now in the eyes of my kids, I look really cool again," he notes.

Summarizes Smith: "All these amazing people just rolled up and turned in wonderful, funny performances. It was the most fun I've ever had. "

From Red Bank to Studio City And Back: The Shoot

Renowned more for his fresh writing and free-wheeling attitude, this time around Kevin Smith decided to bring something new to the mix: a palpable sense of visual energy - the free-wheeling feeling of a comedy on-the-move.

Although Jay and Silent Bob's quest to stop the studio takes them across the country, Smith shot JAY AND SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK almost entirely on soundstages in Los Angeles, where the many stars involved in cameos could easily come and go. A few well-known Los Angeles locations also show up, most notably the historic El Rey Theatre in the Miracle Mile District, where 80s soulsters Morris Day and the Time make their comeback.

Production designer Robert Holtzman's sets involved such typical Jay and Bob hangouts as convenience stores and junk food-filled vans, but also one of the most complicated designs yet attempted in a Kevin Smith movie: The Blunt Cave, where the Hollywood Jay fights the comic-book villain Cock Knocker, played by Mark Hamill, and his well-aimed light sabre, in one of the film's most exciting action sequences.

The Blunt Cave, a twist on Batman's kitschy Bat Cave, was designed to resemble a comic book world gone out of control, with primary colors that literally jump off the screen. Here, Smith relied on the lighting talents and carefully choreographed camerawork of cinematographer Jamie Anderson to make the cartoonish milieu and complex action come alive. "Jamie is so amazing," says Smith. "The Blunt Cave scenes looks so beautiful, even I can't believe I directed them. "

In the end, everything was brought full circle when Kevin Smith and company returned to shoot the final scenes of JAY AND SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK in Red Bank, New Jersey, where Jay and Silent Bob were born just a few years ago. "We wanted to shoot everything in Los Angeles, but you can only find New Jersey in New Jersey," explains production designer Holtzman. "So we finished up in Red Bank

In New Jersey, the production shot at Kevin Smith's comic book shop - Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash - and at the infamous Quick Stop, which was altered to resemble the way it looked back in 1994, when Smith and crew made the fateful decision to film the black-and-white "Clerks" there.

It was, feels Smith, the perfect place to put Jay and Silent Bob to rest . . . but forever? As Ben Affleck notes: "Kevin is totally obsessed with these two dudes, so I'd be surprised if they never show up somewhere again. "