Watching Clerks and Clerks II right after one another, was a really good way to see how far Kevin Smith has come as a director. The black and white production values look very dated and detract from the original Clerks. This is not an issue in the long awaited sequel. It is a very colourful movie, as Dante (Brian O’Halloran) and Randall (Jeff Anderson) are in their 30s now and have begun working at a McDonalds style fast food restaurant called Mooby’s. Randall spends most of his time terrorising his young co-worker Elias (Trevor Fehrman), while Dante is about to get married and move down to Florida and run his father-in-law’s car wash company. Things get complicated when Dante starts falling for his manager, Becky (Rosario Dawson). One of the things I enjoyed about this film was that it had a story. The original Clerks movie seemed like a collection of skits set in a grocery store about how ridiculous customers were and how much the employees hated them. This sequel has a traditional storyline and I think the film works better because of it.
I enjoyed this film a lot more than I thought I would. I understood a lot more of Smith’s pop culture references. His lampooning of the Lord of the Rings films is one of the highlights for me. I have always felt those movies are a tad overrated, it’s nice to know somebody agrees with me. Smith’s dialogue is again in top form for this film. Dante and Randall’s conversations don’t seem forced at all, you believe they are long-time friends. This is also due to the terrific chemistry between O’Halloran and Anderson. Rosario Dawson is a terrific addition to Smith’s universe, she fits right in with this crowd of misfits. I have always found her delightful in movies and this one is no different, it is easy to see why Dante falls for her character, and jeopardises his engagement for her.
Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Kevin smith) also return for this follow up. Jay’s story is really interesting when you know the story behind the actor, Jason Mewes. Smith had promised Mewes that if he could beat his heroin addiction, he would be allowed to play Jay one last time. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back was meant to be the end of the ViewAskewniverse, but after Mewes got clean, it prompted Smith to keep his promise and make Clerks 2. This is echoed in the film, when Jay has just returned from rehab and no longer partakes in the drugs he and Silent Bob sell outside the Mooby’s restaurant. It’s a nice shout out by Smith to his friend, who has beaten an addiction and is still clean to this day.
This film is fun. It was a nice bit of nostalgia to see these characters again. A familiar cast with great chemistry and Smith’s trademark witty dialogue make this film a very enjoyable trip down memory lane.
Clerks II really shows how Kevin Smith has matured as a filmmaker. He’s become a master of balancing raunch humor with genuine heartfelt sentiment. Where Clerks. lacked any real plot or character development, Clerks II does both very well. This is a movie about maturing and growing up. I mean, it features a montage set to one of Alanis Morissette’s sappier songs. If that doesn’t signal growth, then I don’t know what does.
This installment drops in on Dante and Randal 11 years after Clerks. ended. They are still working at the Quick Stop and video store, respectively, at least until Randal accidentally burns down both shops. The two move to jobs in the fast food industry, where they mostly get up to the same at work shenanigans as they always have. But everything is about to change. Dante is engaged, and set to move to Florida with his fiance, where he’ll officially become a grown up complete with a job and house as a gift from his new in-laws.
Of course things don’t go smoothly for Dante. He finds a way to screw things up for himself, just as he did before. This time he cheats on his fiance with his boss, Becky (Rosario Dawson), and gets her pregnant. However, it becomes evident that Becky is actually his true love, because she accepts him for who he is and doesn’t try to change him. While the romance angle is cute, the most poignant moment in the film is actually Randal’s impassioned speech convincing Dante to stay in New Jersey and buy the Quick Stop. It’s a sweet tribute to real friendship. But it also reveals that Dante hasn’t changed much in the decade since Clerks. He still needs a big shove from someone else to do anything. He’s just not a take charge kind of guy, but it seems like he might be getting there.
Clerks II is more mature than Clerks., but I can see how the characters still have room to evolve. Apparently Clerks III is in the works, and will pick up the story another 10 years or so down the track. Will Dante finally be a self-motivated individual? I hope so. The slacker schtick is cute when you’re 22, but starts to wear thin in your 30s. A 40 year old who is still moping around and floating through life? Now that’s just sad. Here’s hoping both Dante and Randal will have finally matured into real adults. At the very least I hope they’ve promoted themselves to management and hired some employees to hang around behind the counter all day.