Madness in the Method is the directorial debut of one Jason Mewes, heretofore known as the Jay half of Jay and Silent Bob. As a result, his legacy with the mighty Kevin Smith looms large, with one of the very first lines in the movie courtesy of a fan who tells Mewes (playing a heightened version of himself here) “I loved you in Clerks…and Clerks 2.” Smith also stars alongside him, as a version of himself, along with Brian O’Halloran (from both of the aforementioned movies, along with several others in the Smith canon). If Mewes is trying to distance himself, this isn’t exactly the best way to do it.
Madness in the Method was shot in Los Angeles and, er, Derby in the UK and to say this is obvious from the first (of many) establishing shots of the city would be a massive understatement. The first character we see onscreen, aside from Mewes himself, is Matt Willis, whom those on the other side of the pond will recognize as a member of boy-band Busted. It’s unlikely he would’ve been cast if the flick didn’t have a British connection because, well, he’s not very good (Inbetweeners star Blake Harrison, playing an ill-advised campy character, fares even less well but more on that later).
As a sweet little prologue, followed by a dramatic monologue to camera from Mewes, intones, the man best known for playing Jay wants to be taken seriously as an actor, which leads to the “madness” of the title. After coming into possession of an extreme method acting tome, he starts going overboard to prove himself, leading to various shenanigans around “Los Angeles” involving the likes of Stan Lee, Judd Nelson, Danny Trejo (sending up his Machete image by playing a softie, in another dodgy gay joke — sensing a pattern yet?) and Vinnie Jones, who takes the piss out of his hard-man shtick a la Jason Statham in Spy.
There are plenty of nods for super-fans of the View Askewniverse, which work to make Madness in the Method seem more enjoyable than it actually is. The thing is ADD-addled and completely all over the place, likely giving us a glimpse into Mewes’s own mind whether intentionally or not. It’s slickly shot but loose, never really settling into a rhythm. The story exists only as a means to shoehorn in as many meaningless, self-indulgent cameos as possible, while bizarre musical interludes (there’s way too much score overall) try to up the ante but confuse more than anything else.
There are some funny moments, particularly a running joke with O’Halloran repeating his famous line from Clerks ad nauseum (he even watches the moment in question at home on repeat, while congratulating himself on his performance) and an actual clerk who asks Mewes “Is the fat one nearby?” For the most part, however, the humor is based around gay jokes, essentially as though the characters are screaming “NO HOMO!” at every opportunity. The film is uncomfortably homophobic without ever tackling why straight men continue to make, and laugh at, such jokes (why not just have Harrison appear as a Russell Brand style character? At least that would make sense and could potentially be funny).
The female characters are caricatures of the lowest order (Teri Hatcher better have made some big bucks for appearing in this), which again leaves a bad taste in the mouth in the year of our lord 2019. Why even feature women just to degrade them? Just make it a boys club and leave it at that. The biggest surprise of Madness in the Method is comedian Mickey Gooch Jr. as a hapless police officer on Mewes’ trail. He was incredibly enthusiastic introducing the film at Frightfest and his performance is loaded with that same madcap energy. Gooch sells the setup even when nothing else about it works; he’s a real bright spark here. Mewes, too, proves that he’s a better actor than perhaps anybody gave him credit for previously.
In fact, as annoying as it probably is for an actor looking to distance himself from the role that defined his career, Mewes’ moments with Smith are the strongest of the entire movie (even if he does let his old buddy rattle on for a bit too long at one stage, when as a director he should’ve reined him in). A pre-weight loss Smith gives it everything he’s got and a final act showdown between the two, in which they dissect their decades-long friendship, is raw, surprisingly emotional, and, one suspects, very close to the bone for both parties. It’s Madness in the Method‘s standout scene because it, unlike basically everything else here, genuinely rings true.
This is an odd film overall; messy, tonally inconsistent, offensive, and ultimately pointless. The nods to Jay and Silent Bob will keep fans invested, but its outdated opinions of women and gay people make this a difficult film to sit through. Madness in the Method also feels significantly longer than its 99 minute run-time, partially because the narrative keeps jumping all over the place. Still, even if this isn’t necessarily a showcase for Mewes the director, it’s definitely a showcase for Mewes the actor. Revisit his work in the brilliant Canadian TV series Todd and the Book of Pure Evil to further reaffirm his talents, but best to give this one a miss unless you’re a hardcore completist.
WICKED RATING: 3/10
Director(s): Jason Mewes
Writer(s): Dominic Burns, Chris Anastasi
Stars: Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Brian O’Halloran, Mickey Gooch Jr.
Release date: August 2, 2019
Studio/Production Company: Straightwire Films
Run Time: 99 minutes