Despite constant R-rated scenes the new movie from Kevin Smith, “Jay and Silent Bob Reboot” expresses family values consistent with a solidly functioning nuclear unit.
In the template for this reboot, the 2001 “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back,” director Smith’s daughter, Harley Quinn Smith who was a baby, had a cameo playing the infant Silent Bob while his wife Jennifer Schwalbach Smith was part of a quartet of diamond thieves. In the new movie Harley has one of the starring roles playing the daughter of Jason Mewes’ Jay.
“There’s a spine of the movie that’s about fidelity of the family,” says Smith by phone. “Absolutely at the end of the day your family is all you’ve got.
“You have the family you were born to and then you have the family you build. Jay and Silent Bob clearly built their own two-man family. In this movie we get to deal with family themes because that’s how it was in real life,” says Smith.
Jason Mewes has been married for a decade and became a father four years ago and has shaken off the demons of his youth including heroin addiction. “In October I’ve been sober for nine years and three months,” says Mewes by phone.
“Kevin adapts the characters to what’s really going on in our life. Kevin and I met when I was 13 and we made “Clerks” when I was 17. So the Jay character is based on how I was at the age of 13. Things I said, things I did,” says Mewes.
“Even with this movie, it sparks to the idea that I’m now a father in real life. Kevin had seen me acting like a dad taking care of my daughter. It’s been interesting and very awesome,” says Mewes.
“He relates to his kid and it’s not just I’m the parent and you’re the child. He and his kid really get along. He’s a wonderful example of what a dad can be,” says Smith about Mewes.
“Go figure, man, wouldn’t it be funny to see Jay being this great character and I cast Harley, my kid, in the film as his daughter. If she were playing my kid that wouldn’t be acting but by playing Jay’s kid in the movie it becomes fun,” adds Smith.
In “Jay and Silent Bob Reboot” the duo once again travel from New Jersey to California to stop a film being made about their characters.
Above the Line
“I’m a filmmaker, which is one of the dumbest art forms on the planet because it demands you say shit like ‘I need to self-express, give me $20-million and Ben Affleck,’” says Smith.
“Just because you want to take a journey in your art it doesn’t mean the world is going to listen. I’m thankful for any audience that wants to hear me because self-expression is what separates us from animals. If you’re a deer and a hunter has you in his sights you can’t say ‘Please don’t kill me I have a wife and a child and I have dreams, I want to be in Hollywood.’”
As an actor Mewes has credits stretching back to his debut in “Clerks” and has been continually working as an actor with over 100 credits on his resume. Earlier this year Mewes made his directorial debut with “Madness in the Method.”
“It’s a more serious role than playing the funny guy,” says Mewes.
“Jay and Silent Bob Reboot” was not in the cards as far as the View Askew (the name of Smith’s film and television company) universe was concerned. But Universal, which holds the rights to “Mallrats” didn’t want to do a sequel and “Clerks III” had stalled.
“For the last two years Smith was really stoked, he didn’t want to do a ‘Jay and Silent Bob’ movie,” says Mewes. “He finally said the main character doesn’t want to do ‘Clerks III’ but you want to do ‘Jay and Silent Bob’ and we are Jay and Silent Bob and we own the rights so let’s just do it,” recalls Mewes.
In the seven-day time between my interviews with Mewes and Smith, Jeff Anderson had agreed to reprise his role as Randal Graves for “Clerks III.”
“Jeff had bought a house in the mountains and he runs his own company and I guess he just doesn’t want to act anymore,” said Mewes days before Smith and Anderson worked out a deal.
In February 2018 Smith had a heart attack after a performance in Glendale, California.
“The doctor told me you’re having a widowmaker. That means the kind of heart attack you’re having has a 80-percent fatality rate. I had 100-percent blockage and the patient always dies,” recalls Smith.
“You’re examining your whole career in your head. What do you think now that you’re facing to possible end? I was actually okay. I was cool with it.
“I didn’t want to die, but I get it, I accept it. I had a wonderful life, I had a great family. Had my own wife and kid it was like a great adventure. If it has to end just be thankful it happened at all,” says Smith.
“And then it dawned on me – oh shit, if I die tonight ‘Yoga Hosiers’ is the last film I ever made. You’ve got to save me, I’ve got to make ‘Jay and Silent Bob Reboot.’ The doctor saved my life,” says Smith.
“But it took on deeper significance and suddenly it became this movie that was going to be a cinematic gravestone.
“So Reboot became this testimony, it’s a cinematic gravestone. Here lies Kevin Smith, it tells you everything you need to know,” says Smith.
Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes will present “Jay and Silent Bob Reboot” as a traveling cinema roadshow at the River Oaks Theatre on Wednesday, October 30 at 7 pm. and 9 pm.
The first show is sold out but there are ducats available for the second show.