In Jay & Silent Bob Reboot, the title characters introduce the concept of "Hulu and hump," a coarser variation on "Netflix and chill" that feels right at home in a film universe that has previously been home to naked angels, a donkey show in a fast-food restaurant, and a movie (Mallrats) that opened with a monologue about a man who got a "cat stuck up his ass." But there is more to it than that, as writer/director/star Kevin Smith told ComicBook.com during a recent conversation about the film. In Kevin Smith's early films, Jay and Silent Bob -- who never left each others' sides -- made sure that everyone knew they were definitely not a couple.
Smith has never intended (or thought of) Jay and Bob's evasions and accusations as hurtful, and has said that almost all of the LGBTQ+ content, whether heartfelt or humorous, appears in his work mostly because of his brother. Smith's brother (who appears briefly in Jay & Silent Bob Reboot) is gay, and years ago, Smith had asked him what he thought of LGBTQ+ representation in entertainment. At the time, positive representation was borderline non-existent, and the young director decided to include gay and lesbian characters, and discussions of homosexuality, in his work. Over the years, he has received some praise for it, but there has also been a fair amount of criticism both of Jay and Bob's humor, and of some of the depictions of the LGBTQ+ community in Smith's Chasing Amy.
The Amy critiques are acknowledged in a piece of dialogue in Jay & Silent Bob Reboot, the recently-released 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. That reference, though, is not the only way that Smith addresses the way his past work has talked about sexuality. And that's where "Hulu and hump" comes in.
After more than a decade away from the title characters, their view of sexuality is one of the handful of things that Smith says really evolved about Jay and Bob. This time around, the jokes at the expense of gay men are absent, and instead, Smith has replaced them with a quiet acceptance that Jay and Bob are, functionally, a couple. While they still introduce themselves as "hetero lifemates," the film openly acknowledges that the pair have a physical and sexual relationship, and they aren't shy about it.
"I think for us, it would've been weird to not comment on their growth, and that's what we do throughout the movie," Smith told ComicBook.com. "We never really say, 'They don't say these things anymore.' There's obvious growth there. There's some lack of growth....There's a line where Brodie goes, 'Didn't you two ever hear of Netflix and chill?' And they're like, 'One time we Hulu and humped.' And the implication is, these two are gay. At one point in the movie, they hold up the blueprint that says 'ditch the old gay guys,' and stuff. So for my money, I think Jay and Bob have become much more enlightened -- but at the same time, only about one aspect of the world. Whereas when they encounter a young Muslim, they're like, 'What? This is new information.'"
In that scene, Jay and Bob -- recently awakened from a drug-induced nap, wake up to meet Jihad (Aparna Brielle), a Muslim teenager who joins them for part of their journey across the country. Jay's first reaction is to see a young woman in a head scarf and shout "look out, there's a terrorist!" Nobody but Jay is that dumb, though, and even Bob rolls his eyes at this.
"We couldn't play it like Archie Bunker, because the characters just aren't that in their hearts. But they are kind of sheltered, for lack of a better description," Smith explained. "So in this movie, we got to take them out of their shelter, more so than even Strike Back. In Strike Back, it's white people surrounded by more white people. In Reboot, the world looks like the world really looks and is a little more appropriate."
That more diverse world also becomes a punchline in the movie, which is a commentary on reboots and sequels, while being both itself. In the film, Brodie Bruce (Jason Lee) explains that a reboot is when a movie studio takes something that you loved in the past and adds youth and diversity to it, to make you pay for the whole thing over again. During the course of their journey, Jay literally motions to the young women they are traveling with while repeating the "...adds youth and diversity..." line.1comments
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 last month, and is now out on a "Reboot Roadshow," in which Smith screens the movie to audiences personally, followed by a Q&A after the fact. The film opens theatrically in markets where the Roadshow has already appeared.