On April 30, Kevin Smith fans can see a profane, drug-filled film made in the service of clean and sober living.
"Jay & Silent Bob's Super Groovy Cartoon Movie," showing at Sacramento's Crest Theatre, features the stoner duo from Smith's groundbreaking 1994 indie film "Clerks" and subsequent movies including "Chasing Amy" and "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back."
Smith (Silent Bob) and Jason Mewes (Jay) will attend the animated film's Crest screening and engage the audience in a Q&A session to be recorded for a podcast that will be available on Smith's SModcast.com site.
"Super Groovy" is just the latest project for the pair. For nearly two decades, their characters' crude and comedic antics have been featured in a variety of media (film, television, comics, online), a kind of slacker-era Laurel and Hardy composed of the chubby, trench-coated Smith and the taller, thinner and far-more-manic Mewes.
Nonverbal but thoughtful-looking straight man Silent Bob provides reaction shots for Jay's juvenile rantings about sex and drugs and "snoochie boochie," a catchphrase whose meaning remains up for debate.
Reached by phone at his home in Los Angeles, Smith calls "Super Groovy" in which Jay and Silent Bob become their superhero alter egos Bluntman and Chronic to fight phallically obsessed villains "filthy but adorable."
That's an improvement on the film's trailer, which brags that "Super Groovy" is "the worst thing to happen to comic-book movies since Ryan Reynolds' 'Green Lantern.' "
Smith also bills the movie as a "sobriety project" for Mewes, who in addition to voicing Jay produced the $69,000 animated film.
Mewes, 38, who for years struggled with heroin and OxyContin addiction, has amassed more than 1,000 days of sobriety (marijuana is a motif in "Groovy" and all "Jay & Silent" Bob ventures, but he doesn't touch the stuff in real life).
"Jay & Silent Bob Get Old," a regular podcast Mewes records with Smith before live audiences, has assisted his recovery. The podcast serves as a sobriety check-in for Mewes, who discusses his recovery and darkest days.
But Mewes, now clearer of mind and more energetic, needed more to do than just the podcast. He wanted to become a producer.
Smith provided an old script for a Bluntman and Chronic graphic novel. With minimal help from Smith, Mewes produced "Super Groovy" from the ground up, working with animator and director Steve Stark, recruiting voice actors such as Eliza Dushku and Jon Lovitz, and handling other production matters with the help of Mewes' wife, Jordan Monsanto.
"It definitely was more difficult than just showing up on time and and doing a character" as an actor, Mewes said in a separate phone call from Los Angeles. (Mewes is far less talkative in his interview than the always-entertaining Smith, who is silent only in character as Bob).
Smith, 42, was delighted to have someone else take the reins for once. Mewes even directed himself in voiceover parts.
"He had to learn things by himself, because I was busy," Smith said. "And he did. He came back and said, 'You want to watch something?' and he had 10 minutes of the film (completed)." That 10 minutes made it into the finished film.
The "Super Groovy Cartoon Movie" also marks a change of course for Smith, who, as a director, had suffered a few box-office misfires as of late. Recognizing that he had begun viewing movies as less an art form and more as a means for earning a paycheck, he has taken a more diversified approach to entertainment.
The director-writer-actor, who has wrapped his fandom around him like Silent Bob's trench coat since the early days of the Internet, now tries to reach his fan base directly by recording podcasts with live audiences and touring with his films. (Smith also stars in the AMC reality series "Comic Book Men," set in his New Jersey comic-book store).
Mewes said he appreciates Smith's new approach.
"These days, to get people out of their house to watch a movie, you have to bring a little more to the actual experience," Mewes said.
The podcast aspect is as vital to the "Super Groovy" program as the movie. Smith and Mewes matched podcast and screening partly to mix things up after recording more than 100 episodes of "Jay & Silent Bob Get Old."
"It's easy to get caught up and forget and the podcast really helps remind me" to keep sobriety at the forefront, Mewes said, who worries about relapsing. The last time he was sober for a prolonged period, in the 2000s, he became too comfortable. He took painkillers after a surgery and relapsed.
Smith and others staged an intervention. "I told him, 'If you bolt, I am done,' " Smith said. Mewes did bolt, leaving rehab after two days, and Smith distanced himself from his friend of 25 years.
"When Mewes gets lost in the heroin and OxyContin, you don't get him back," said Smith, who once lent Mewes his ATM card for a small transaction and wound up with a missing card, a missing friend and $1,100 in new charges in one day.
Mewes, who has acted for other directors in B movies and on TV shows, regained his sobriety not long after. But Smith remained wary. Mewes would show up at the L.A. venue where Smith recorded "SModcast" podcasts with longtime producing partner Scott Mosier.
"He was hanging around trying to show me he was sober," Smith said of Mewes. Smith could resist Mewes the "dirty Muppet" he met in their native New Jersey when Mewes was a young teenager for only so long.
Smith proposed the podcast as a way to help Mewes work through issues. Mewes, at first too antsy to sit and talk for an hour, since has become "a raconteur," Smith said.
"It's like an AA meeting, but the most entertaining AA meeting because everyone else can drink, and the guy on stage tells you mind-bending sex stories before taking you to the gutter of despair and drug abuse," Smith said.
Pairing a podcast tied to recovery with a movie with pot humor doesn't bother Mewes. He appreciates pot's medicinal properties. It helped his sick mother before she died. But he doesn't smoke it.
"I tried that years ago 'I will only smoke pot, or I will only drink, because my trouble is with opiates and painkillers,' " he said. But it never worked. "I had to get the mindset that I can't do anything that is mind-altering."
Smith, Mewes and Mewes' wife, Monsanto, have formed a production business together an act that testifies, Smith said, to Mewes' commitment to sobriety and to Smith's newfound trust in his old friend.
Smith said Monsanto, a UCLA business grad, is key to the partnership.
A lover of pop-culture analogies, Smith compares their trio to the one in Martin Scorsese's 1986 film "The Color of Money."
"Mewes is the young Tom Cruise, who is insanely good at billiards. I am Paul Newman, though not as thin and good-looking and without the captivating eye color. But I have been around the block. Jordan is Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, who takes care of what Vincent needs. But (Jordan) also is good at business, so she is a little bit Mary Elizabeth, a little bit Paul Newman."
In real life, Smith is less mentor or boss to Mewes than he was when they shot previous films. The two now have a much more equal relationship.
"We are best friends now," Smith said. "People assume we were best friends based on the movies, but you can't be best friends with a human time bomb. But now in his sobriety, he has found, 'Oh, if I stay sober, good things happen.' He produced this movie. He bought a house."
Mewes and Smith "have gotten to know each other better in the past year and a half than we did in the past 25 years," Mewes said. He is grateful that Smith the guy who transformed him from a teenage New Jersey roofer into a working actor never completely gave up on him.
"He has always been there, even when I did things I am not proud of and I disappointed him," Mewes said. "In every way possible, he has helped me."
JAY & SILENT BOB'S SUPER GROOVY CARTOON MOVIE
What: Film screening plus games and the recording of a Q&A podcast with Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith. (For ages 16 and older)
When: 8 p.m. April 30
Where: Crest Theatre, 1013 K St., Sacramento
Cost: $27.50-$44.50 in advance. $5 more day of show.
Call The Bee's Carla Meyer, (916) 321-1118.. Follow her on Twitter @CarlaMeyerSB.