I guess the warning signs were there from the off. An unfunny sequence right at the beginning gets our two stoner protagonists arrested, leading them to discover a movie reboot is being made, based on a movie they were the inspiration for originally. Yes, director Kevin Smith is back doing his nerdy comic book self-referential thing in a movie universe he created with cult favourites Clerks, Mallrats and the original Jay and Silent Bob Strikes Back.
Meant as a satire of movie reboots, poking fun at Hollywood, social media and even ‘woke’ culture this should have been a laugh riot … considering once upon a time Smith was one of the sharpest voices around. Yet the script here struggles to be much more that an egotistical tribute to himself. As a fan, that’s a damn shame too as what’s here with a plot revolving around Jay (Jason Mews) finding out he has a daughter, is fine but the movie struggles with clunky dialogue that feels forced and jokes that really aren’t that funny. Attempts at emotion also fall flat not helped by the mostly wooden line delivery of Smith’s own daughter, Harley Quinn Smith as Jay’s illegitimate daughter.
These characters are likeable on a purely surface level, and what they get up to is occasionally fun. The wealth of celeb cameos are enjoyable too with Chris Hemsworth, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon appearing. There’s just clearly nothing left that hasn’t already been done with this world and it’s like even Kevin Smith knows that by this stage.
Despite my liking of director Kevin Smith as a pop-culture icon and as a director, my expectations of this low budget indie comedy were considerably dialled back following Smith’s own admission of the movie’s less than stellar reception from critics. However I was still willing to give it a chance and what I’d seen and heard still appealed.
Two convenience store clerks (a Kevin Smith regular theme) both named Colleen (Lily-Rose Depp and Harley Quinn Smith) hate their jobs, wish they were singers in a band (and sort of are with their drummer Adam Brody) and long for something else in life, other than practicing Yoga and staring at their phones. Then one night the store comes under attack from a race of miniature Nazis and the girls find themselves the only two people who can save the world from a Nazi uprising … in Canada at least.
This isn’t a movie you go and see for the plot, as it’s bizarre and stupid and really just an excuse for Smith to throw in a lot of Canadian satire of Mounties, hockey, beavers and people saying ‘sorry aboot that’ all the time. It’s mildly-amusing but also a bit of an oddity not helped by mostly poor, cartoonish acting. Smith’s daughter is watchable but lacking and the same can be said of Johnny Depp’s daughter, and well neither of them can sing but I’m guessing that was intentional. Also Johnny Depp himself has an extended, near-unrecognisable appearance that’s typically caricature for the actor these days and certainly one of his least memorable. Much of the entertainment here comes from the Canadian in-jokes so if you’re not familiar with any of that a great deal of this will go over your head. The combination of Canadian and Nazi imagery certainly proved curiously intriguing and well, the Bratzi’s are so ridiculous they’re actually fun … and the climax involving a big monster is a lot of fun too. Yet it remains a movie that feels stitched together from ideas that should have either been fleshed out or left alone entirely, because really – who comes up with this material and were they smoking something at the time? However, this wasn’t as awful as I was lead to believe but certainly wasn’t that great either. Smith can and has done a lot better. One for the curious or die-hard Smith fans only.
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