Movie of the Day – Clerks II

Oh gosh, my general love/hate relationship with scathing pop culture jabs for cheap laughs and maturing characters.  I have always had a favorable opinion of Kevin Smith’s films, as deep down, I can’t deny that I enjoy juvenile humor, quick sarcastic remarks, anti-hero characters and general pervasiveness of dirty language in his dialogue writing.  What can I say really, it’s funny shit.  No one director gets such vitriol against him than Kevin Smith.  Some will argue that Clerks is just this one hit wonder and he got lucky with the success of that movie.  Others just chide him for going to his well of characters for every movie.  Me personally, I love it.  There is something interesting about watching him create movies set in his own universe, filled with recognizable characters, and dirty humor.  It’s like watching a soap opera designed for the Gen X crowd and I can find the humor in it.

While his movies might be immature, Kevin Smith is, in my opinion, a talented writer that can grow in terms of writing and characterization.  He doesn’t compromise his characters by making them lose the luster that made them what they are.  Jay and Silent Bob will always be this stoner Batman and Robin, but their charm and immaturity makes them likeable.  Dante and Randal are and will always be, the epitome of the Gen X society.  Clerks was a breakout movie and the one that got me to love Kevin Smith films.  I didn’t watch it until 1999, but when I did, it called to me for some reason.  Maybe it might have to do with pop culture references and general disregard for societal norms.  Whatever it was that got me to love it, I was a bit apprehensive about seeing a sequel to a movie that meant a lot to me and fans of Clerks.  I guess if you mature as a director and writer, maybe you characters can mature along with you.

Clerks II follows the Quick Stop proprietors Dante and Randal and their life outside of the secure confines of the convenience store and having to work for the corporate man in the form of Mooby’s.  Dante is in the finals hours of his eventual journey out to Florida and marry Emma, who is giving him an out to leave Jersey for good.  Randal chides Dante about leaving everything behind, all the while making fun of customer and feeling superior about it.  There is one thing that is conflicting Dante about his eventual departure of Jersey, which is his boss and secret love Becky.  The two eventually must confront their feelings and Randal must learn that things might not always stay the same.

So yeah, I truncated the story line, but ultimately I want to talk about the mature manner in which Smith grew his Gen X slacker characters into, well, adults.  If you can ignore the foul language (I wouldn’t cause it’s fucking hilarious), you are getting a very well done story and better characterization from Kevin Smith with his titular Gen X men, Dante and Randal.  There is always a risk of going back and changing everything that we know and love about a particular set of characters and damaging our memories of them.  I loved Clerks because of the general “meh” attitude that Dante and Randal have about life.  Randal was more of the unappreciated scholar of his times, telling people off and a disregard for the general norms of society.  He hated everyone and thought he was better than the patrons coming into the store wanting crappy movies.  Dante was more of the rat in the maze, looking for something better and finding a way out of his situation.  He was still being held back by society, but put his nose to the grindstone and begrudgingly worked menial jobs.

Clerks II took them out of that comfort zone and made them work in a place that Gen X people detest, which is a corporate chain.  So out of their normal setting from Clerks, we have to see them grit their teeth and move on with life after the Quick Stop is burned down.  This is where the growth of the characters come through.  Realizing that they aren’t happy, Dante has a way out of his life and be on easy street if he marries Emma and moves to Florida.  Randal is just the same, never really understanding that the only person he calls a friend is going away.  He thinks that Dante will never change like him and eventually stay in Jersey.  Throughout the movie, Dante questions his feelings about Emma and how his “friendship” with Becky, the store manager is something genuine.  The movie is effective in coming to a resolution about the characters lives.  It would have been a terrible movie if it’s just a repeat of Clerks and have the characters just working at the restaurant and not grow up.  They keep complaining and making snarky comments, but never going anywhere.  Kevin Smith matured the characters by giving them real choices in terms of where their lives can go.  The final scene in the jail cell is touching, as we see Randal really say something meaningful to him.  It wasn’t filled with hate or bitterness, but a genuine feeling of sadness that his friend is going to leave.  The ultimate choice of all the characters is meaningful and shows that Smith was able to grow his characters and not cheapen them with keeping the status quo.

Don’t think for a minute that this isn’t a comedy.  Given my current writing on Clerks II, it may seem more like a drama and there isn’t anything funny to be found.  The movie is entertaining and funny.  If you love Kevin Smith films, you are going to find the usual scathing pop culture riffs, stoner jokes and outlandish situations.  The great debate about Star Wars and Lord of the Rings is funny, the side characters of Elias and Jay and Silent Bob are welcome additions to the movie, and lest we forget, Interspieces Erotica.  Only in a Kevin Smith film, and Tijuana bars, could you incorporate a scene with a donkey in a movie and have it be a main part in the third act.

The film is a laugh riot, I know that I can watch this again and again without having the jokes get stale and tired.  It is, in my opinion, one of the most mature films Smith has made.  I loved revisiting the characters of old and seeing how they have become different people, for better or worse.  Jay and Silent Bob even grew up with Jay kicking his drug habit, but still bringing the raunch.  You get both Kevin Smith comedy and writing, along with a mature story for their titular characters.

About Nick
I am just another blogger putting his thoughts into a website. My love is movies so most of my musings will be movie related. I work as an online marketer for an advertising company and when I am not earning a paycheck, I moonlight as a vigilante film blogger.

3 Responses to Movie of the Day – Clerks II

  1. Frank Bishop says:

    I miss my donkey. Btw, when is it ok to go ATM on a donkey?

  2. Pingback: Real Life and Not-So-Real-Life Leaders [Infographic] | Conspire: A Mindjet Publication

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