Jay & Silent Bob Reboot

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street 1/21/20;
Lionsgate;
Comedy;
Box Office $3.41 million;
$19.98 DVD, $21.99 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for pervasive strong crude sexual content, language throughout, drug use and some nudity.
Stars Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Harley Quinn Smith, Shannon Elizabeth, Jason Lee, Fred Armisen.

The latest addition to Kevin Smith’s View-Askewniverse is an unexpected treat for longtime fans of the filmmaker’s work. That it even exists is somewhat of a miracle.

Smith had been trying to make Clerks 3, but when one of the key actors dropped out, he shelved the project. With progress on a Mallrats sequel also stalled, Smith instead wrote another “Jay & Silent Bob” movie, with the urging of his long-time friend and co-star Jason Mewes, who plays the stoner Jay in the films alongside Smith’s Silent Bob. But before production began, Smith suffered a heart attack in early 2018, though he eventually recovered.

As a result, Jay & Silent Bob Reboot might be Smith’s most personal film since 1997’s Chasing Amy, though in a completely different way. Where that film, his third, was an introspective rumination on the fleeting nature of young love, his latest romp is a comedic reflection of his entire career, and more often than not a parody of it, while also taking aim at Hollywood’s penchant for remakes, reboots and an endless string of comic book movies.

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Chasing Amy also happens to be an apropos starting point for dissecting Reboot, since that’s the film that gave birth to the idea of the Jay and Silent Bob drug dealer characters being the inspiration for the fictional “Bluntman and Chronic” comic book featured at the heart of that film’s story.

Reboot unabashedly tells the same story, albeit updated, as 2001’s Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, in which the duo, fearing damage to their reputations, trekked from New Jersey to Hollywood in an attempt to stop a film version of “Bluntman and Chronic” from being made.

Jay and Silent Bob end up profiting from that film (see Clerks II), but after 18 years the studio wants to reboot it, and through some legal maneuvers manage gain copyright control over the duo’s actual identities, preventing them from using their own names. As a result, they scheme to return to Hollywood to disrupt production of the reboot, too. The twist now is that the reboot’s director is Kevin Smith, playing a fictional version of himself.

Along the way, Jay and Silent Bob join forces with a rebellious teen (played by Smith’s real-life daughter, Harley Quinn Smith) and her friends, as they make their way to “Chronic-Con,” a blatant spoof of Comic-Con. Smith manages to work references to nearly all his previous movies into the adventure, including updating the audience on what happened to a few of the main characters from the shared universe (and even answering a 25-year-old question that lingered back to his original film, 1994’s Clerks).

This is all catnip for Smith’s fans, who can easily forgive the juvenile humor and crude behavior surrounding the central antagonists, even as the story veers off the rails in its final act. Such are the trademark selling points of Smith’s works, not drawbacks, in a way only someone such as Smith could get away with. These are at their core stoner comedies, after all.

Sophistication isn’t the goal here, just the boundless energy and sense of fun of a pop-culture-obsessed filmmaker embracing what he loves. Smith even manages to sneak in a few heartfelt moments of character, paying off decades of the audience’s investment in their stories.

And, seemingly as a result of the goodwill generated by the film’s roadshow tour, the departed Clerks III cast member decided to sign up after all, and it looks like that film is now a go, too.

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The film’s home video editions offer a few interesting, if somewhat unstructured, behind the scenes material. Primary among them is nearly an hour of cast interviews that have been cobbled together as some sort of ersatz making-of documentary. Presenting their thoughts without the framework of an interviewer, they mostly talk about their characters and the wackiness of the story.

Then, there’s a separate half hour of Smith and Mewes interviewing their co-stars.

Rounding out the extras are a 10-minute blooper reel and two minutes of Smith and Mewes fixing their Jay and Silent Bob hair.

 

Netflix Says Record 45 Million People Streamed Original Movie ‘Bird Box’ During First Week

Netflix Dec. 28 disclosed that 45 million people streamed post-apocalyptic original movie Bird Box, starring Sandra Bullock, since its Dec. 21 launch. The tally is the largest-ever over a seven-day period for the subscription streaming video pioneer.

Netflix, which does not disclose viewer statistics as a matter of policy, previously revealed that 20 million people streamed The Christmas Chronicles, starring Kirk Russell.

“Took off my blindfold this morning to discover that 45,037,125 Netflix accounts have already watched Bird Box — best first 7 days ever for a Netflix film!” Netflix tweeted.

The service didn’t say whether viewer households were global or just domestic. Netflix ended the most-recent fiscal period with 130 million paid subscribers worldwide.

Bird Box, directed by Danish filmmaker Susanne Bier, and co-starring Sarah Paulson, John Malkovich and Jacki Weaver, among others, features Bullock as a single mom attempting to save her family from a mysterious force that makes people kill themselves if they see it. Bullock and her kids are forced to escape wearing blindfolds.

Netflix has high hopes for film, agreeing to give it a limited exclusive theatrical run to appease industry awards voters.

 

 

Ted Sarandos: 20 Million People Streamed ‘The Christmas Chronicles’ the First Week on Netflix

Netflix doesn’t release ratings or viewership data for original programming.

But that didn’t stop Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos from disclosing that 20 million people streamed original feature-length movie The Christmas Chronicles, starring Kurt Russell as a brash-talking (and singing) Santa Claus, during its first week of release.

Speaking Dec. 3 at the UBS 46th Annual Global Media and Communications confab in New York, Sarandos conveyed that Russell told him none of his movies had ever attracted that many viewers in the first seven days of release.

“That’s a testimony … we can bring to the market for storytellers today,” Sarandos said. “We probably couldn’t have done that 10 years ago.”

The executive used the anecdote to underscore his long-running battle against the 90-day theatrical window. A mindset that Sarnados believes all theatrical releases should be made available across all distribution channels simultaneously.

“If every one of those views was a movie purchase, that’s a $200 million opening week,” he said. “Even movies that go on to make $1 billion, don’t typically do that the first week. The ability to tap into that big audience differentiates us from everybody else.”

It’s controversial stance that has resulted in exhibitors, film festivals and Hollywood largely shunning Netflix films at the box office and awards circuit. Critics contend the SVOD giant is leaving money on the table, undermining content creators, producers and actors financially by streaming new-release movies globally to subscribers paying $9 a month for access.

Sarandos disagrees, arguing his approach to distribution simply bucks the tradition around the opening box office weekend.

“It’s saying, ‘I really want my movie in the culture. I want people to talk about my movie in line at Starbucks,’” Sarandos said. “I want to be the topic of discussion with my story that I’ve invested my entire life telling.”

Sarandos said studio executives grew up in a world where that was the definition of the Zeitgeist: Being the No. 1 movie at the box office.

Separately, the executive expressed little concern about pending over-the-top video platforms from Disney and WarnerMedia.

He said the new competition has been on management’s mind for a while and prompted Netflix’s foray into original programming years ago with “House of Cards,” “Orange Is the New Black,” “Lilyhammer,” “Arrested Development,” and “Hemlock Grove,” among others.

“They represented everything from comedy to drama to horror,” Sarandos said.

Netflix is now a global producer of on-demand content across all genres, including 20 original unscripted TV shows streaming this year compared to zero last year.

The service will stream 70 local-language original shows in 2019. Sarandos said local productions featuring local casts and language are becoming worldwide hits, including most-recently Germany’s “Dark,” Denmark’s “The Rain,” and India’s “Sacred Games”.

“They have been remarkably relevant in their home countries,” he said. “We’re not trying to make Hollywood content for the world. We’re trying to make content from anywhere in the world to the rest of the world.

Netflix just released “Bodyguard,” a joint venture with the BBC, underscoring the fact 80% of new subscriber growth is originating internationally, which mandates global – not Hollywood – content production, according to Sarandos.

“We’re better off deciding our own destiny and making our own choices with the consumer in mind than a bunch of competitors in mind,” Sarandos said. “Some of those things [third-party SVOD services] will successful, but not to the detriment of Netflix.”