Review by Paul Stathakis | 2006

Revenge of the Smith

Clerks 2” is out­ra­geous­ly fun­ny, foul, and touch­ing like its pre­de­ces­sor.  Kevin Smith has an ear for dia­logue and there are enough pop cul­ture ref­er­ences here to keep a view­er amused long after the end cred­its. “Clerks 2” not only sig­nals the return of Bri­an O’Halloran and Jeff Anderson’s char­ac­ters but also Jay (Jason Mewes) and his het­ero soul mate Silent Bob (Kevin Smith).  Aside from the usu­al View Askew cast mem­bers is Rosario Daw­son who sur­pris­ing­ly turns in one of the most sin­cere per­for­mances in recent comedies.

This is a com­e­dy that most par­ents will detest or not under­stand espe­cial­ly if they haven’t seen a Kevin Smith film before.  I sus­pect a num­ber of view­ers who did not enjoy the movie will crit­i­cize those who found it to be rather amus­ing.  Every­one has an opin­ion and this is a movie you will either love or hate.

Smith’s new com­e­dy-sequel is a com­bi­na­tion of three films all rolled up into one: a) It is a film that pays homage to oth­er Smith films, b) an offen­sive com­e­dy and, c) a love sto­ry about grow­ing up and mak­ing right choic­es. The third part is where the movie reveals its charm­ing side. Like with his pre­vi­ous works, Smith pulls off a few nasty tricks and gets away with everything.

The first “Clerks” (1994) intro­duced the char­ac­ters of Dante Hicks, Ran­dal Graves, Jay, and Silent Bob. It was Kevin Smith’s first movie, his claim to fame, and an exam­ple of a well-made low-bud­get inde­pen­dent movie. The sequel has Smith more or less return­ing to his film­mak­ing roots. This time around, he achieves laughs with a big­ger bud­get­ed movie that was appro­pri­ate­ly filmed in color.

Twelve years have passed since Dante (Bri­an O’Hal­lo­ran) and Ran­dal (Jeff Ander­son) avoid­ed trou­bles at the Quick Stop, a local super­mar­ket where they were employed as clerks.  Ear­ly on in Clerks 2, a severe fire leaves the Quick Stop in ruins forc­ing the clerks to set­tle at Mooby’s, a fic­tion­al fast-food restau­rant that has a col­or­ful and invit­ing appear­ance (like most fast-food restau­rants).  When­ev­er a cus­tomer enters the restau­rant, a cow’s moo­ing can be heard in the back­ground.  Mooby’s, for those who recall, was first intro­duced to view­ers in Smith’s Dog­ma (1999) and then also appeared in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001)

The main char­ac­ters haven’t changed. They are loud, coarse, opin­ion­at­ed, and not very pro­fes­sion­al at work. Sev­er­al of their argu­ments in “Clerks 2” are uproar­i­ous, espe­cial­ly when a cus­tomer tries to con­vince Dante that the “Lord of the Rings” tril­o­gy is supe­ri­or to the “Star Wars” movies.  Watch for the moment when Dante sums up Peter Jackson’s films.  There is also a recur­ring joke: Ran­dall con­stant­ly refers to Anne Frank instead of Anne Keller. Rosario Daw­son as Becky, the man­ag­er at Mooby’s, is a fine choice for a female lead. She is sim­ply charm­ing and cool and there are cameo appear­ances (I will not reveal them here) which add to the fun.

Sequels are sel­dom as ful­fill­ing as their pre­de­ces­sors. Very few writ­ers are able to con­tin­ue telling a sto­ry that is actu­al­ly worth con­tin­u­ing. Often, writ­ers opt for sequels because of the eco­nom­ics (if the first film is a suc­cess chances are peo­ple will rush to see the sequel whether good or bad). But Smith stands in a cat­e­go­ry of his own, where he nev­er seems to make a movie just to want to be mak­ing a movie. One can watch his film and claim that the humor is bland. But for those famil­iar with Smith’s work and for those with a sense of humor, it’s like hav­ing a sweet tooth and then being offered plen­ty of candy.


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