We saw Clerks II last night, and I really enjoyed the movie. Clerks II clocks in at number six in Kevin Smith’s so-called “Jersey Trilogy,” but don’t worry, you don’t need to have seen any of the other movies to enjoy it”¦but it would certainly help.
In 1994 Kevin Smith, then a film school drop-out, self-financed “Clerks” by maxing out his credit cards and selling his extensive comic book collection (he spent 27,000 to film it). He filmed the movie in Leonardo, NJ’s Quick Stop with a 16mm camera in grainy black and white, and since he had no money to pay actors he cast a bunch of his friends to fill in as extras. Kevin actually worked at the Quick Stop at the time of filming, and he convinced his boss to allow him to film in the store after he closed up for the night.
The film chronicled a day in the life of Randal and Dante, two Quick Stop employees who neither lamented their pathetic station in life nor desired anything more for themselves. They passed that day, and presumably every other, by talking about Star Wars, blow jobs, and irritating customers.
And while the camera work was nothing to rave about, Kevin knew how to write engaging and colorful dialogue. The conversations between Randal and Dante showed that a couple of twenty-something losers could speak intelligently about “nudie booths,” and surprisingly those verbose, and oftentimes extremely vulgar, conversations made for compelling film.
The most amazing thing about that original film was how relatable Randal and Dante came across. I saw it in 1995 and as I was only a couple of years younger than the guys on-screen, I immediately related with their existential-like plight. They had no idea what they wanted to do in life, and neither did I.
Clerks II acts as a continuance of the first film, and when we catch up with Randal and Dante they still work in a dead-end job and pass the time by dissecting the minutiae of pop culture. The only difference now is that Dante seems to have found a means out of the register-jockeying drudge, by way of his fiancÃ© who wants to spirit him away to Florida. But just as in the last film, Dante’s conflicted about his relationship with his significant other. He’s as indecisive as ever, but this time the weight of middle-age presses down on him influencing his decisions.
We also get a little bit more insight in the actual relationship between Randal and Dante. Smith has never shied away from exploring intense relationships between two men, and this film is no different. While Dante and Randal might not be homosexuals, they do share an incredibly intimate relationship, and as we all know breaking up is hard to do. In the first film Randal told Dante’s ex-girlfriend “Break his heart again this time, and I’ll kill you. Nothing personal.” When Caitlin comments on his protective fervor Randal states “Territoriality”¦he was mine first.” In Clerks II Randal has to compete yet again with the female persuasion for Dante’s attention. And he does go to extremes to do so. Good God, does he go to extremes.
I’m kind of a biased reviewer on this movie, because I love just about every image Kevin Smith has committed to film. But I do have to say that Clerks and Clerks II are probably my favorite films by Smith. Be forewarned: if vulgarity offends you then do not go see this film. There is no nudity or violence, but they swear a lot and discuss some pretty disgusting things.
Other than that little caveat I highly recommend the film. It was a blast.