Kevin Smith’s latest brings his friends back to tell a story about growing up that hits all the right notes.

Jay and Silent Bob Reboot
Written and Directed by Kevin Smith

Just when you thought writer and director Kevin Smith had moved on from his View Askew-niverse – the interconnected stories about people from New Jersey that started with 1994’s Clerks – to make weird horror films about a walrus, a heart attack brings him back to what made him popular. Smith famously started filming Jay and Silent Bob Reboot on the one-year anniversary of the heart attack that nearly killed him. In addition to losing a ton of weight, Smith crafted a heartwarming story surrounded by celebrity cameos and crude humor.

It’s all of Kevin Smith’s strengths wrapped up in a nice 105-minute package.

The plot of the film is right there in the title – it’s a reboot of Smith’s JAY AND SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK from 2001. Or is it a sequel? Or a remake?

The movie has elements of all three – and Smith manages to explain what all three are within the film with a little help from his famous friends – but mostly it’s a satirical take on Hollywood’s penchant for releasing old ideas with new spin. In J&SBR, the stoner hetero-lifemates find out a second movie based on their life is being made – this time by director Kevin Smith in one the film’s more meta moments – so they head to Hollywood determined to put a stop to it. Again.

Much in the same way that Smith added some emotional resonance to CLERKS II by having Dante and Randall face the prospect of growing up as they grow older, J&SBR adds to the mythos by giving Jay a daughter he never knew about from his ex-girlfriend Justice (Shannon Elizabeth). Played by Smith’s daughter Harley Quinn Smith, Jay’s daughter Milly forces her dad to bring her and her friends to Hollywood with them, though she doesn’t know Jay is her dad.

Jay and Milly, of course, get closer throughout the film and Smith once again managed to get me to tear up a little bit as the movie came to an end. When he has subject matter that means something to him, Smith is really great writing a script with a lot of emotional resonance. Or maybe I just started to grow up at the right time to appreciate Smith’s message.

The highlights of the film once again come in the cameos from Smith’s famous friends. In addition to the bevy of characters from Smith’s past films like Brodie Bruce (Jason Lee, from MALLRATS) and Holden McNeil (Ben Affleck) and Alyssa Jones (Joey Lauren Adams from Chasing Amy), Loki (Matt Damon from DOGMA), Smith adds a whole lot of other cameos. New faces to the View Askew-niverse include Melissa Benoist, Chris Hemsworth, Justin Long, Craig Robinson and Joe Manganiello – to just name a few. Every scene seems to have a new famous face.

You would think the cameos would be overwhelming, but really, it’s all a part of the Kevin Smith movie experience.