It’s been ages since filmmaker Kevin Smith has dipped his toes in his self-proclaimed View Askewniverse. The New Jersey native created a world that contains some of the wittiest, offbeat and vulgar characters to ever appear onscreen, but Smith injected enough charm and heart to make many of them likeable, even admirable. Some characters have even become pop culture icons as they proudly wave the flag for 90’s humor, wielding Smith’s brand of “dick and fart jokes,” all while indulging his inner fanboy.

Reboot is a direct sequel to 2001’s Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, a buddy road trip movie that follows cinema’s wackiest stoners as they trek from New Jersey to Hollywood to stop the production of a movie loosely based on themselves. Smith, ever the creative soul that he is, included in Reboot a story where Jay and his “hetero lifemate” Silent Bob… travel from New Jersey to Hollywood to stop the production of a movie loosely based on themselves. Reboot was intended as a sequel but it also wants to poke fun at reboots, remakes, sequels, and the Hollywood film industry. Reboot, to say the least, is a meta-tastic satire that both subverts and upholds Hollywood’s current business model.

Jason Mewes costars with Smith, reprising their iconic characters who’ve appeared in nearly every Smith-directed feature. They’re obviously older, but not necessarily wiser, and they work off each as if they haven’t missed a beat. What’s interesting is that the stakes have risen just a tad – Jay is now a father, a secret his old girlfriend, Justice (reprised by Shannon Elizabeth), has kept from him all these years. Jay’s daughter is 18-year-old Millennium “Milly” Faulken (get it?), played by Smith’s real-life daughter, Harley Quinn (get it?) Smith. Smith’s indulged his daughter’s dream of becoming an actress by casting her in many of his projects. This is all obvious nepotism since Harley Quinn isn’t the greatest actor, but since when is acting an actual requirement in the View Askewniverse?

Overall, the film’s plot is not of big concern, even though it’s concerning that Smith blatantly regurgitated (almost with pride) an already-used plot. With Smith surviving a heart attack last year, he’s approaching this project with plenty of verve and excitement. As a result, he’s eager to feature almost his entire View Askewniverse roster. Nearly all his callbacks are shoehorned in and, if you look closely, all of it hides a paper-thin story.

But what a roster of talent Smith’s assembled - some are obvious and welcome, while others are of the blah variety. The hopeful dealmaker is the closure that’s included. They are touching gestures, but they quickly step aside for others that don’t offer much outside of providing live-action before-after shots. Still, for View Askeniverse fans all of it is candy readily available to gobble up.

From a fanboy perspective, Jay and Silent Bob Reboot is everything I can ask for. It provides plenty of inside jokes by referencing Smith’s past work and has the look and feel of his most recognizable films.

For all the reasons Smith’s latest is a fanboy dreamsicle, they also are the foundation for a bad film. Despite his newfound passion, Smith still seems to be writing like young Kevin Smith – sophomoric humor (albeit with a tad less sexism and misogyny) with a healthy sprinkling of fanboy couture. He stuffed this 105-minute feature to the point where it’s busting at the seams, highlighting the notion Smith’s writing has gotten lazy.

In effect, Smith has been able to create pop culture using already existing pop culture. That is a talent in and of itself, but to repeatedly dip into that well is dangerous. The Jay and Silent Bob Reboot is a prime example of Smith carelessly wielding that double-edged sword which, in 2019, has cut him more than a few times.

2.5 stars out of 5


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