Sometimes, films require a little bit of prior knowledge going in, whether it’s a little touch of historical familiarity or an idea of the actor’s previous work. Nowhere is this truer than with a film like Madness in the Method, which is essentially a sidequel to Kevin Smith’s View Askewniverse. It assumes not just that its audience is aware of those movies, but that they believe them to be hugely important cultural artefacts.
The film is directed by Jason Mewes, who also stars as himself. This version of Mewes is trying to break free of the typecasting created by his continued role as the more talkative half of Jay and Silent Bob. When he is turned down for a meaty leading part by a fanboy casting director (Busted singer Matt Willis), Mewes confides in buddy Kevin Smith, who recommends a book about method acting. The book leads Mewes down some dark alleys and he is soon responsible for a murder, which he pins on fellow actor Vinnie Jones. It doesn’t get more coherent or sensible from there.
If you’re an enormous fan of Mewes and his work as part of the Kevin Smith canon, then Madness in the Method will be exactly the kind of meta exercise that you might appreciate. The script is peppered with catchphrases and references to the View Asknewniverse films, as well as an enormous helping of the sort of stoner humour, mixed with pop culture nods, that made the name of many of the people involved. Conversely, if you’re not already sold on those things, Madness in the Method is an exhausting watch.
Mewes, for his part, does a pretty decent job of showing that he has some range. He finds real darkness in the role, but it’s unfortunately buried deep within the stories meta excesses and some decidedly lame jokes. If I had a pound for every reference to that photo of Vinnie Jones grabbing a guy’s nuts, I’d have enough to fund a better version of the film myself. In fact, these jokes are part of a central issue with the movie as a whole. Much like Mewes’ career, the film is stuck in a sort of arrested development in which jokes about smoking joints and Vinnie Jones are automatically hilarious. The rest of the world has moved on, but Mewes seems trapped by his past.
Rather than focusing in on Mewes’ confinement, which could have yielded something really interesting, Madness in the Method focuses on its parade of all-star cameos. It’s often as if Mewes and Smith sat down in their living room and simply spun their Rolodex a few times to populate the movie with stars playing themselves, whether it’s Danny Trejo in a pink feather boa, TV Superman Dean Cain disguising himself to avoid fan encounters or even Stan Lee in his final movie appearance. These cameos often induce a slight chuckle, but they bog down the narrative.
Madness in the Method almost works when it leans into its commentary about modern Hollywood. Mewes clearly has something real to say about how his own career has gone – Harry Potter actor Evanna Lynch gets a fun recurring role as the voice of a movie star ranking website – but the film never has the courage to focus on that darkness. Instead, it often feels like an indulgent victory lap that is never as smart as it thinks it is. And we’re going to have to do it all over again when the Jay and Silent Bob Reboot comes out.
Dir: Jason Mewes
Scr: Dominic Burns, Chris Anastasi
Cast: Jason Mewes, Gina Carano, Vinnie Jones, Kevin Smith, Brian O’Halloran, Dean Cain, Matt Willis, Danny Trejo, Teri Hatcher, Evanna Lynch, Jaime Camil, Blake Harrison
Prd: Dominic Burns, Mickey Gooch Jr., Jason Mewes, Rob Weston
DOP: Vince Knight
Music: Si Begg
Run time: 99 mins
Madness in the Method is screening at Arrow Video FrightFest.