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Clerks II /

Rated: R

Starring: Brian O'Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Rosario Dawson, Trevor Fehrman, Jason Mewes

Directed by: Kevin Smith

Produced by: Kevin Smith, Scott Mosier

Written by: Kevin Smith

Distributor: The Weinstein Company


“Sometimes I wish I'd done a little more with my life instead of just hanging out in front of places. Maybe be an animal doctor. Why not me? I like seals and shit. Or maybe be an astronaut. Go into space and shit. Be the first to find a new alien lifeform... and fuck it. People would be, like, ‘there he goes. Boy fucked a martian once.’”—Jay, Clerks II

     You’ve got to hand it to Kevin Smith for staying true to his independent-film roots for now over ten years. During the period between his 1994 breakout feature, Clerks, and this 2006 sequel, his career has made both turns for the better (Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back) and the worse (Dogma), but Smith hasn’t forgot what made him a successful filmmaker in the first place: inventiveness. His style has grown different over time—three years ago, I never would’ve guessed that the guy would ever take a turn for the sentimental with his famous convenience-store duo, Dante Hicks and Randall Graves—but his tried-and-true approach remains the same today as it was in his first film. Smith wisely centers his stories on smart, affecting dialogue and its pertinence to pop-culture and the life of everyday people, even when the humor is vulgar and the language is filthy. Clerks II is the perfect “F-You!” to Hollywood; shot for $5 million dollars, it is more interesting and funnier than most major-studio comedies will ever hope to be.

     Sitting everything I’ve just said aside, Clerks II won’t exactly change viewers’ lives, but it doesn’t pretend to want to in the first place. Dante (Brian O’Halloran) and Randall (Jeff Anderson) are back—this time in full color film—after the latter leaves the coffee pot on overnight at the infamous Quick Strop, causing a fire to break out and burn both the convenience store and his next-door video-rental-shop down. The two find jobs working at Mooby’s Burgers alongside Momma’s Boy Employee of the Month, Elias (Trevor Fehrman). Dante also finds a new romantic interest in the film, Becky (Rosario Dawson), but his feelings for her are slightly repressed due to his pending engagement to his preppy fiancée Emma (Jennifer Schwalbach Smith). Emma intends to move into a house her parents plan on buying for she and Dante in Florida, within close proximity to one of her father’s car-washes, which Dante will be able to manage. In his heart, though, Dante understands that he belongs with Becky in his home of New Jersey.

     The first thing I noticed about Clerks II was its strong embrace of Smith’s signature catchy dialogue. As was in the first film, the characters fast-talk through lyrical conversations regarding a multitude of topics, this time ranging from Lord of the Rings vs. Star Wars to what racial slurs should be considered offensive. The style works especially in bringing Dante’s conflicting thoughts regarding his love-interests to life; he nervously rattles through his emotions in a way that is simultaneously quirky and identifiable towards. Many critics have ragged on the amateurishness of the performances of the cast, especially O’Halloran’s jumpy characterization of Dante, but I have never had a problem with the acting in either Clerks movie. Smith’s team of regulars may not be a trained group of thespians, but they are pleasantly appealing in their roles, in which they often appear in many of the filmmaker’s projects.

     Clerks II may not be as witty or reference-savvy as its predecessor, but Smith’s screenplay has more refined ideas this time around, which lend to a sequel with both more laughs and tenderer moments than the original. It’s a welcome—and also very crude (how the MPAA allowed the first cut of a film featuring an extended Donkey Show to be rated R is beyond me)—follow-up on and addition to a set of characters that are still as virtually impossible to dislike today as they were when audiences first met them in 1994. This is one of the best comedies, as well as perhaps one of the best overall movies, of the year.

-Danny, Bucket Reviews (7.26.2006)


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