A new movie and tour by two indie icons may not save your life, but it helped save one of theirs.
Created by filmmaker Kevin Smith, Jay and Silent Bob became the avatars for slackers as well as cult icons in the ‘90s with films like “Clerks” and “Mallrats.” The 2000s were not as kind to the duo in real life.
While the dividends of the Jay and Silent Bob characters, played by Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith, continue to expand with a podcast, called “Jay and Silent Bob Get Old” and an animated movie tour, called “Jay and Silent Bob’s Super Groovy Cartoon Movie,” Mewes’ struggles with drugs put the duo’s presence in question several times.
As the more vocal half of Jay and Silent Bob, Mewes was the raspy, stringy-haired, foul-mouthed, wild counterpart to Smith’s silent persona, something like a thin Penn Jillette to Kevin Smith’s Teller. While, in real life, Smith is the direct opposite of his character, known for his long talks and never shying away from a controversial topic, Mewes turned into a darker version of his on-screen persona.
After years of drug problems, including run-ins with the law, movie companies and even a banishment from Smith, Mewes has been sober for about three years. This is, in part, thanks to his work on “Jay and Silent Bob’s Super Groovy Cartoon Movie,” on which he serves as a voice actor and producer with friend and animator Steve Stark directing.
Fans will get the chance to see the movie when it debuts in Kansas City at The Midland Theater at 8 p.m. May 17.
“It helped me keep busy, It makes you organize everything, getting the sound stages for the voiceovers, calling people and the characters — ‘Who’s going to play who?’ and ‘Do you think so-and-so will play this character?’ and all that good stuff,” he says.
For Mewes, who blames his last relapse on letting himself get lazy by not going to meetings or allowing himself to be held accountable, keeping busy is the key.
“I love sitting and playing ‘Call of Duty.’ I sometimes catch myself for five, six hours playing. And I love watching ‘Game of Thrones.’ I find if I do that for three, four, five days, I feel like, ‘Man, I’m not doing anything productive.’ And I just start feeling bad and it’s not a good place. I don’t like being in that place,” he says.
It’s an area of Mewes’ life he often revisits on his podcast with Smith, detailing his past drug experiences and the weird places they took him.
“Most are outrageous at this point that I can look back and laugh at them. I definitely think there’s certain things that, yeah, it bothers me. Especially if I have to talk about my mom or something. I feel real (bad) about the stuff I used to do,” he says.
The podcast and movie make up two safety nets Smith helped establish for Mewes after he admitted his relapse. When the offer was put on the table, Mewes couldn’t turn it down.
“(Smith) usually wants to be in control. He created the characters and his whole View Askewniverse that he doesn’t want me or someone else doing it because he’s like, ‘What if you’re (portraying) them totally different than I would? That’s stupid,’” he says. “For him to give me a script and say, ‘Hey, you can run with this.’ To me, it’s like, ‘Wow. I can’t believe he’s allowing this.’”
Made on an estimated $69,000 budget, “Jay and Silent Bob’s Super Groovy Cartoon Movie” is vintage Kevin Smith — lots of explicit humor and language, a nonsensical plot and a load of in-jokes.
Much like Smith’s last tour, behind his action-drama “Red State,” Mewes and he make the viewing more than a simple movie screening. It’s a three-hour event with a film, live podcast recording and a game.
When talking about the movie, Mewes gets giddy with excitement, which says a lot coming from a person who typically refuses to watch anything he stars in.
“I’d never watch any of the movies that I’ve done. Maybe if my buddy has it on, I’d watch about a half hour of it. But I never watch my movies,” he says.
When speaking of the cartoon, Mewes says it’s the exact opposite.
“The first seven screenings, I sat through the whole movie watching it and could sit through it again and again. I could never do that with the live-action movies,” he says.
The road ahead, Mewes hopes, includes more touring behind the cartoon, including taking it overseas.
After working on the animated movie, Mewes says that might be an interesting road to explore.
“It’s better than shooting something where you might have to run around and roll around in the mud and first, you’ve got to get makeup for two-and-a-half hours or get your hair did or there’s a prosthetic. This, you just walk in, talk into the mic, get the character and do it bunch of times. It’s great,” he says.
Andrew Gaug can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPGaug.