Seeing as I've already thrown the first 'Clerks' into this long list of "Screening Suggestions", we're finally jumping ahead to 'Clerks II' - the review being about as long-awaited as the actual movie. I still remember being under the proverbial rock when this was finally coming out, commenting on a forum, wondering whatever happened to the 'Clerks II' project, and being answered with a trailer. It looked like fun, but I had to say, I was sort of iffy about the presentation.
Watching the original trailer, it showed higher production value, better quality, and colour - all things that 'Clerks' was not. There was something about that, that turned me off. 'Clerks' had become so well-known for that low-budget quality amongst its fans, that it was part of what made it so good. A part of its charm was this look because it felt like Kevin Smith; a newcomer at the time, understood the life of the average Joe a bit more than some of those higher-up directors whose idea of an average Joe job was working in an office, and the average convenience store clerk was some kind of racial stereotype.
To this day, that original 'Clerks' is probably the Kevin Smith film I hold closest to my heart, because, at the time, I was a cashier at a grocery store, also dealing with the general public. To me, 'Clerks' was this amazing portrayal of a couple of guys working retail, dealing with customers, and saying things we only wished we could say to some of our customers. This was just a little too different for my taste, but I did decide that since I was still a Kevin Smith fan, I had to give it a shot. The result was me watching it three times in theaters, and eventually owning a DVD copy the day of its release. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised.
This takes place ten years down the road for Dante Hicks (Brian O'Halloran) and Randal Graves (Jeff Anderson) and shows them working the fast food gig at Mooby's (the View Askewniverse answer to the average fast-food joint, with a mascot made to be "as close to Mickey Mouse as possible without getting sued"). The pair work under their manager, Becky Scott (Rosario Dawson), and alongside a bit of a punching-bag character named Elias (Trevor Fehrman), who also happens to be one of the best things about this movie. You see, Elias is the gullible fanboy geek type who, in some ways, brings his punishment on himself with things he says or does.
The restaurant work for Dante and Randal is due to their old stomping grounds, the Quick Stop, being burned to the ground. Terrorists? Nope, Randal left the coffee pot on again. Anyway, now Dante is engaged to be married to a woman named Emma Bunting (Jennifer Schwalbach) who, ironically as Kevin Smith's wife in real life, is perhaps the least likable character in the film (on purpose). While Emma lays out a whole future for Dante to basically wander into, Dante's still that stubborn dude who won't disrupt things just so he can sh*t comfortably. In the meantime, Becky may just end up being reason enough for Dante to stay put and not move away with Emma.
A lot like the first 'Clerks', the central focus has to do with a love triangle situation involving Dante while all sorts of hilarious shenanigans unfold involving other comedy relief characters. Apart from Randal and Elias playing super well off each other, we also get the triumphant return of the now clean (but still holding) Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith, respectively) who are just as funny sober as they ever were stoned. Once again, so much of this movie's humour comes out of the casual banter these characters have with each other. Some talk about the "dos and don'ts" of sex; some innocent fan feuding about film franchise quality; and SOME pretty damn edgy stuff. But I might suggest that it's satire in this case. You'll know what I'm talking about when you see it.
One thing I really admire about Kevin Smith is that he makes his movies for his fans, and not so much to appeal to the masses. He's not after Oscars or even positive reviews from critics (even as I sit and write all this); he just wants to make the people who love him happy, as in to return the favour. Us Smith fans are pretty loyal to the guy, even to a fault. I don't deny that I thought some of his later stuff was "crap", but that's just me. A lot of his fans on the Facebook page I follow are loving his new stuff because it's so off-the-wall and crazy weird. Either way, we do seem to be at square one again with 'Clerks III' as we all anxiously await some kind of first trailer.