Clerks II
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir-scr Kevin Smith
with Brian O'Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Rosario Dawson, Trevor Fehrman, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Jennifer Schwalbach, Zak Knutson, Jason Lee, Ben Affleck, Wanda Sykes, Ethan Suplee
release US 21.Jul.06, UK 22.Sep.06
06/US Weinstein 1h37

Attack of the clerks: O'Halloran and Anderson (above); Smith and Mewes (below)

dawson lee affleck


See also: CLERKS (1994)

Clerks II Kevin Smith revisits the characters from his 1994 classic, and the result is both sharply entertaining and surprisingly meaningful. Yes, it's clunky, silly and often downright obscene. But there's a depth of character that makes it well worth seeing.

After the Quickstop burns down, Dante and Randal (O'Halloran and Anderson) find new jobs at Mooby's burger joint. It's Dante's last day at work before moving to Florida with his fiancee (Schwalbach). While tormenting their naive coworker Elias (Fehrman), Randal is planning an indescribably profane send-off for Dante, who is clearly repressing feelings he has for their boss (Dawson). And of course Jay and Silent Bob (Mewes and Smith) offer a sort of running commentary on it all.

After the slushy Jersey Girl, it's great to have Smith back in View Askew mode, merrily lampooning contemporary culture on all kinds of levels. The premise--buddies still working entry-level jobs in their mid-30s--is usually left to sitcoms, but Smith spins out a ludicrously entertaining story here, packed with wit and insight. And he refreshingly keeps the message subservient to the comedy.

The dialog crackles with sharp observational humour. The usual riotous conversations about Star Wars are interwoven with next-generation Lord of the Rings geeks (with a wacky side trip into Transformers fandom). And of course there's a lot of religious banter, while Mooby's is a fully formed parody of the fast-food world. It's quick, pointed and relentlessly hysterical, darting from subject to subject, refusing to be remotely politically correct. The funniest running gag revolves around Anne Frank and Helen Keller.

The cast is realistic and effortless. O'Halloran and Anderson are a little stiff, although they generate terrific chemistry together and with their costars. Dawson is charmingly terrific, while Fehrman makes a superb addition to this universe as the goofy, gullible good-time boy just waiting to be released from his shell. And the film actually becomes something special in the way it addresses human interconnection--soul mates, romantic partners, best friends. Smith does this is a number of ways that are corny and awkward, but utterly inspired. It's great to have him back where he belongs.

cert 15 strong themes, language, drugs 10.Aug.06

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A R C H I V E    R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir-scr Kevin Smith
cast Brian O'Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Marilyn Ghigliotti, Lisa Spoonhauer, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Scott Mosier, Walt Flanagan, Scott Schiaffo, Al Berkowitz, David Klein, Kimberly Loughran
release US 19.Oct.94, UK 5.May.95
94/US Miramax

Attack of the clerks: O'Halloran and Anderson (above); Smith and Mewes (below)


See also: CLERKS II (2006)

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Clerks Proof positive that a big budget doesn't equal quality, Clerks was made for next-to-nothing, yet is a much more polished film than-- dare I say?--Forrest Gump. Shot in dreary black-and-white, featuring an unknown cast who do little besides talk to each other, set almost completely within a single location (a New Jersey convenience store) ... yet it has won major awards at Cannes and Sundance.

The central character is Dante (O'Halloran), a store clerk with a conscience, agreeing to work on his day off despite the fact that he wants to play hockey and attend a friend's funeral. His world is full of clear moral principles, and he is both amused and shocked by the amoral people he encounters, from a rabid anti-smoking customer (Flanagan) to the drug dealers lurking outside (Mewes and Smith). There are two main figures in his life: Randall (Anderson), the lazy clerk at the video shop nextdoor who spends more time in Dante's shop than his own, and Veronica (Ghigliotti), Dante's girlfriend who is utterly loyal despite the fact that Dante still pines after his previous flame Caitlyn (Spoonhauer).

As these characters interact and embark on a string of mini-adventures, the film gets very, very funny ... and startlingly insightful. The dialogue is utterly frank--and guaranteed to offend almost everyone. It's raw, vulgar, crude and hilarious at the same time. Yet it manages to make profound statements about the work ethic, human dignity and real love, all in an utterly unconventional way.

Clerks is a stunning debut for Kevin Smith and his talented cast. With his eye for detail, assured style, skillful editing and marvellous way with real, earthy dialogue, he's definitely one to watch. Besides, how can you help but love a film that includes a serious discussion of the merits of Return of the Jedi vs The Empire Strikes Back?

cert 18 very strong language, subject matter 6.Jun.95

2006 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall