Friday, August 20, 2010

Review: "Clerks II" Finds the Passion of the Clerks

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 158 (of 2006) by Leroy Douresseaux

Clerks II (2006)
Running time: 97 minutes (1 hour, 37 minutes)
MPAA – R for pervasive crude and sexual content including aberrant sexuality , strong language, and some drug material
EDITORS/PRODUCERS: Scott Mosier and Kevin Smith
CINEMATOGRAPHER: David Klein (director of photography)


Starring: Brian O’Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Rosario Dawson, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Trevor Fehrman, Jennifer Schwalbach, Jason Lee, Ben Affleck, Earthquake, Wanda Sykes, Kevin Weisman, and Scott Mosier

Best friends Dante Hicks (Brian O’Halloran) and Randal Graves (Jeff Anderson) worked side by side – Dante at the Quik-Stop convenience store and Randal at a video store next door. They’ve been doing that for ten years, but Dante goes to work one day and finds the Quik-Stop on fire. A year later, both Dante and Randal are working at Mooby’s, a McDonald’s like, bovine-themed, fast food restaurant. They still have that in-your-face attitude (especially Randal), and they still spew vulgarities (especially Randal), and they still try their customers’ nerves (especially Randal). Vagrant drug dealers, Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith), who used to hangout in front of the Quik-Stop, now hang around Mooby’s selling dope. But not everything is the same…

They have a new co-worker to torture, the virginal 19-year old, Elias (Trevor Fehrman, a smart, funny, and charmingly naïve addition in the series), and their manager, the sexy Becky (Rosario Dawson). Dante and Randal are in their early 30’s, and this is Dante’s last day at Mooby’s. He’s (hopefully) leaving New Jersey forever and moving to Florida with his aggressive fiancé, Emma Bunting (Jennifer Schwalbach), where her well-to-do parents live. Randal is hurt and disappointed, but he’s planning a last blowout to send Dante off. That, however, isn’t Dante’s only surprise because Becky has a secret to tell Dante and it may change all his plans.

Kevin Smith put the loyalty of his fans in his own hands when he announced that he was making a sequel to his 1994 cult and surprise hit film, Clerks. He couldn’t blame anyone else if the sequel (originally titled, The Passion of the Clerks) sucked ass, but neither he nor his loyal fans need worry. Clerks II is absolutely fabulous. Smith’s trademarks all make appearances: the non-stop chatter and babble full of wit and vinegar about such topics as pop culture (Star Wars versus The Lord of the Rings), society (racial slurs and religion), and sex and relationships (perversions, positions, marriage, etc.). There even cameos from his friends (Jason Lee and Ben Affleck) and other comic actors (Wanda Sykes).

Clerks II is an improvement on the original film in terms of screenwriting and narrative. There’s an actual plot underneath all the rapid-fire dialogue, and that dialogue is much crisper than the original – less clunky, for sure. There’s more dramatic impact, and the characters relationships have more depth. Clerks II is simply older in terms of maturity than the original film. Smith is asking his characters to be more and to put more consideration into their own lives – to put away childish things. In a sense, Smith is the Woody Allen of his generation – filling his films with lots of talk, both profound and silly, but certainly more bawdy than what went on even in Allen’s pre-Annie Hall movies.

Well, Clerks II is not entirely grown up. The characters can still have fun, and they certainly do. Clerks II is vulgar and buck wild. There’s something to offend everyone, but it’s all for fun. Smith is the ultimate come-on-and-lighten-up guy, and the cast loves to drink his Kool-Aid, so Clerks II is a resounding success. It’s as close to everything both they and we wanted in a Clerks sequel, and it might be even better than all expected.

9 of 10

Saturday, July 22, 2006


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