Clerks II

In 1994, Writer/Director/Producer Kevin Smith emerged as a talented filmmaker to watch with his independent film Clerks The film was a no holds barred look at the lives of two desk clerks, who toil away behind the counters of a video and convince store.

The film was made on a tight budget with a cast of unknowns who discussed all manner of issues from life, love, and beyond in very graphic and outlandish terms as they go through a very long day and evening on the job.

The film went on to be a darling at Sundance and paved the way from Kevin Smith to do a series of films which featured lovable yet realistic characters trying to understand life, and get by in a world where they do not always seem to fit. Of course the films always had Smith’s trademark ability to discuss topics in new and unique ways that blended raunchy moments with inspired dialogue and genuine emotions.

A few years back I interviewed Kevin Smith in support of his film Jersey Girl and it seemed that he was on the fast track to do films such as The Green Hornet and Fletch Lives. Despite the series of frustrations due to reported studio conflicts over his Superman Lives script, it seemed that Kevin was moving towards larger budget studio films.

Fate can be a funny thing, especially in Hollywood, and while preparing the 10th anniversary DVD edition of Clerks as well as the work on the short-lived Clerks animated series, Smith reportedly became inspired as to what the characters from his breakout film had become ten years further on.

Despite some delays caused by the departure of the Weinstein brothers from Miramax and the reluctance of one of the principal cast members, who was concerned that they would not be able to recapture the magic of the first film, “Clerks II” has arrived and is easily one of the funniest films I have ever seen.

The stars of the first film Dante (Brian O’Halloran), and Randal (Jeff Anderson), now find themselves working at a fast food store called Moobys, and as usual, Randal never finds a shortage of bizarre and outrageous topics to impart his wisdom and theories to a usual shocked Dante. It is learned that Dante is about to work his last shift, as in the morning he is moving to Florida from his New Jersey home, in order to get married and start a new career as a manager at a business owned by his future father in law.

Dante also must contend with his friendship with his manager Becky (Rosario Dawson), who wants to make sure that he is moving and getting married for the right reasons and not because it is expected of him.

Of course there are no shortage of characters in the film who add to the merriment, from the customers, to an employee named Elias (Trevor Fehrman), whose mild mannered ways and bizarre obsession with Lord of the Rings makes him a constant foil for the ever irascible Randal, who never loses interest in finding new ways to give Elias a hard time.

Then there are series favorites Jay and Silent Bob, (Jason: Mewes), and (Kevin Smith). The two slackers and drug dealers have now cleaned up their act. They still sell drugs; they just no longer use them. Jay is also prone to spouting his theories on religion to his customers, as he attempts to pass the faith while passing pot.

The duo feature throughout the film and offer some of the funniest moments in the film including a hilarious parody of The Silence of the Lambs.

As the day and evening plays out, one manner of hilarious and outrageous event after another occurs, which forces Dante and Randal to evaluate their lives, as well as what truly being happy and successful means.

While some may say this film is just a collection of crude humor that would be underscoring the true triumph of the film. Smith once again shows that he can portray flawed but realistic characters with surprising realism and charm. The characters know who they are, and make no apologies for being what society would call rough around the edges or failures they are being true to themselves and it is their frank and blunt ways of communicating that make them real and endear them to the audience.

They face the same issues that most of us have to face in life when we examine the paths we take, as well as the decisions we make and the resulting consequences which underscores the ultimate fact that one must be true to themselves.

A true classic and easily the best film Kevin Smith has ever done do not miss this film.

5 stars out of 5