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CLERKS II, 2006
Movie Reviews!

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CLERKS IICLERKS II, 2006
Movie Reviews

Directed by Kevin Smith

Cast: Brian O'Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Rosario Dawon, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Ben Affleck, Jennifer Schwalbach Smith, Jason Lee
Review by Dean Madden


SYNOPSIS:

After Randal’s clumsy actions result in the ’Quick Stop’ convenience store being burnt to the ground, Dante and Randal work in a fast food restaurant. On Dante’s last day, before he leaves for Florida with his fiancée Emma, Randal decides to throw him a going-away party that no-one will ever forget.

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REVIEW:

In 1994, Independent director Kevin Smith released his debut film ‘Clerks’, and it kick-started his career in a completely catastrophic manner. The release of ‘Clerks’ was met with wonderful acclaim; not just from critics (that saw this film as type of Trojan horse for other aspiring independent filmmakers) but also from the ‘generation X’ audience that seemed to be founded in the early 90s. This audience felt they finally had a voice with much of the reasoning being focused around Smith’s cult phenomenon.

Smith has made a great career (albeit, not entirely independent as his first film was) out of small, low budgeted comedies involving very human and potty-mouthed folk. Since the release of ‘Clerks’, Smith released another 4 films from his ‘New Jersey chronicles’ – starring himself and best friend Jason Mewes as the naive, dope dealing duo, Jay and Silent Bob. After ‘Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back’ (Smith, 2001), Smith rested his chronicle that gave him his name; his next film was ‘Jersey Girl’ (Smith, 2004). Whilst this film (in this reviewer’s opinion) was not as atrocious as others may make it out to be, it perhaps wasn’t the ‘Kevin Smith’ flick fans came to love. As Smith himself jokes, his next film would bring him ‘back to the well’. He would return to (as always) write and direct another instalment in his ‘New Jersey chronicle’; this time making a sequel to Clerks, the grainy black and white film that gave the man his credibility he still has today – Clerks II.

This is a very risky move and this was an opinion that was shared by many fans. Not one wanted the brilliant original to be tarnished in any way. Smith, very wisely, understood that he could not stick entirely to the narrative formula that the original had (he described as “many sketch-type-jokes stuck together”). Whilst the first 20 minutes loosely sticks to that formula, it diverts to a more classical way of comedic narrative. Not only is this aspect different, it is shot in colour (well, all but the first and last minute) and the characters are 10 years older and now in their thirties.

‘Clerks II’ starts (as mentioned, in black and white) with Dante (Brian O’Halloran) opening the ‘Quick Stop’ convenience store - the setting of the first film. As he opens the shutters, he sees that the store is on fire (as the film turns to colour). It is revealed that Randal (Jeff Anderson) is responsible for this, because of his forgetfulness to turn appliances off overnight. As they are now jobless, they need to find another job; they end up working for the fictional, fast food restaurant - introduced in Smith’s earlier films - ‘Mooby’s”.

One year on, it is Dante’s last day; not just for Mooby’s, but in New Jersey as he is leaving for Florida the next day to live a new life with his fiancée, Emma (played by Smith’s wife, Jennifer Schwalbach-Smith). Like the first film, there is a generous helping of memorable scenes with contrary customers and (with the now sober and enlightened) Jay and Silent Bob. As the two best friends work their final shift together, Randal is struggling to come to terms with losing his best friend for a woman who clearly isn’t right for Dante. Randal organises a going away/bachelor party involving, ahem, ‘interspecies erotica’, that goes wonderfully wayward.

The acting in this is fantastic. Jason Mewes is great reprising his role of Jay and Rosario Dawson is fantastic as love interest Becky – one will find it impossible not to fall in love with her. The standout performances are the two leads; particularly Jeff Anderson (whose performance is arguably the highlight of the original ‘Clerks’). Anderson delivers an exceptional performance that out-trumps his previous attempt. O’Halloran shines, too, as he his character has been given more ‘meat-to-chew’, so to speak . He also gives a performance that you truly become engaged with. There is a 10 minute scene, inside a jail cell towards the end of the film, involving O’Halloran and Anderson that is one of the best written scenes I have ever seen - really. The way the humour is juggled perfectly with genuine human emotion is amazing. In fact, the way the humour and humanity is dealt with in this film assures one that this is not a fluke. The script and direction is fantastic.

Smith’s return to the type of very rude, crude and honest comedy is a welcomed return to form. The script is possibly the best Smith has written to date - if not that, then it’s certainly the most laugh-out-loud he’s ever written. ‘Clerks II’ is funny, it’s sad and it is a brilliant, brilliant sequel to the original and it’s one of the best examples I’ve seen of how sequels should be handled. Smith’s appreciation of human relationships, sexuality and characters truly shine in this brilliant instalment to his chronicle and brings it brilliantly full circle. Its function as a conclusion works great, but there’s something inside this reviewer that really hopes Smith will revisit his ‘New Jersey’ chronicle again in the future...

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