If you were to open the Big Dictionary Of Cinematic Terms and look up "Acquired Taste", you'd find a picture of Kevin Smith. He tends to divide critics and audiences into people who "get" him and people who just want him to "get" lost. So chances are that his latest comedy will be loved and ignored in equal measure. The director has already admitted that this is a love letter to his fans, and they'll be beside themselves over the dick jokes, fart jokes and references to his earlier work, especially Clerks, Mallrats and Chasing Amy. This is dripping in Smith history, featuring characters from all his films and sly references to things that most non-fans won't get. Which is part of the appeal, albeit a limiting one: this is a secret club writ large on screen, a celebration of everything that makes Kevin Smith films so enjoyable for his devotees to watch.
Unsurprisingly, this does cause problems. The movie is patchy (yo-yoing from laugh-out-loud funny to deathly dull) and there are several moments that may leave you scratching your head and feeling like you're watching the concluding part of a series you've never seen before. Jason Lee appears to pop up twice as two almost identical characters and the film never adequately explains this, assuming too much foreknowledge on the audience's part.
But worry not. You may not be a Smith geek, you may have never heard of his View Askew production company, you may have hated Dogma, but there's still plenty here to enjoy. As well as plundering his own back catalogue, Smith takes frequent pot-shots at Hollywood, plus affectionate pokes at his long-time backers, Miramax. This results in some hilarious film parodies of a quality beyond anything the makers of the Scary Movie flicks could dream up. It doesn't hurt that the helmer can call on the services of some serious Hollywood names (and a couple of Star Wars legends in Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher). This is the man who helped to launch the careers of Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, and friendly payback means that not only are the stars lining up to play the smallest of parts, but everyone's willing to make fun of themselves. Add this to the Laurel and Hardy-esque appeal of the druggie leads and you've got one of the most good-natured, ebullient and enjoyable comedies in ages.
If you're a regular filmgoer looking for a Saturday night laugh-fest, and you don't mind a few obscure references, you could do a lot worse than queue up for Jay And Silent Bob... But you'll have to get in line behind the faithful...