For the first time in years, Kevin Smith will release a commentary track on Jay & Silent Bob Reboot, the follow up to his 2001 film Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back and the first new installment of his interconnected "View Askewniverse" since 2006's Clerks II. In fact, Clerks II was the last Smith film to have a feature-length commentary track on its home video release, before Smith stopped making them. It could easily be seen as being tied into the end of the View Askewniverse (and its revival tied to the return of commentary tracks), but it's actually a little more complicated than that.
According to Smith, it wasn't the end of the View Askewniverse that turned him off of recording commentaries for his films. Instead, it was the chilly box office and critical reception of his 2008 comedy Zack and Miri Make a Porno, and the subsequent deterioration of the home video market.
"Absolutely. Yeah, in a heartbeat," Smith told me when I asked whether he planned a commentary track for Reboot. "I remember commentary tracks stopped on Zack and Miri Make a Porno, because we were so...I say, we. I mean, Scott was a little bit blue, but I was so blue. I was like, 'This movie was supposed to be the one made a hundred million.' And so, you usually record your commentary track after the movie has played in theaters and stuff. So at that point, I was like, 'I don't want to talk about this.' Mosier and I always meant to do a commentary track during SModcast, which I don't think we've ever done to date."
Smith added that in addition to a commentary track for the Easter egg-overloaded Jay & Silent Bob Reboot, he hopes to get the chance to revisit some of the films he made between 2008 and present.
"Number one, I want to go back and do commentary tracks for the ones I never did," Smith said. "But number two, I'm definitely going to do one for Reboot. Now, the thing is, you do it, and unless somebody's got a DVD, or a Blu-ray, they're not going to hear it. So we'll probably put it up as a podcast as well. So when it hits home video, that will probably be the easiest way to disseminate it, because we've done on that SModcast, where we've done commentary tracks on Dark Knight, or something like that. So I think that will probably be the best way to do it. But yeah, believe me, I could talk for hours about f---ing Reboot, and do a scene by scene breakdown and all the little things that led to the other things and stuff. I look forward to doing a commentary track for that."
In the '90s and early 2000s, filmmaker commentaries were much more common than they currently are, in part due to the strength of the video rental market driving demand for content that would incentivize viewers to purchase a movie and spend a lot of time with it, rather than renting it for a weekend. Smith's commentaries were hugely popular with his fans, with some people joking that in the case of his critically-panned Mallrats, the commentary track was funnier than the movie itself.
In addition to Ben Affleck, Joey Lauren Adams, and a dozen or so other View Askew veterans, the film is jam-packed full of Hollywood stars including David Dastmalchian, Jason Lee, Joe Manganiello, Craig Robinson, Justin Long, Shannon Elizabeth, Fred Armisen, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Chris Hemsworth, Method Man, Redman, Jason Biggs, James Van Der Beek, Brian Quinn, and Tommy Chong.
Jay & Silent Bob Reboot was featured at a pair of Fathom Events special screenings around the country on Tuesday and Thursday of this week, and will now head out on a "Reboot Roadshow," in which Smith screens the movie to audiences personally, followed by a Q&A after the fact. A wider theatrical release will come later.