Kevin Smith is seen as King of the Geeks; he makes films I enjoy watching. I wonder what that says about me … ?
Ever since I saw Clerks, his black and white, low-budget debut, I’ve been a fan of his films. The dialogue is such a delight to listen to (which compensates for his earlier lack of visual flair). His characters discussing pop culture matters was something I could relate to, and the films themselves have a lot of heart (even if it is hidden under an avalanche of swearing and knob and fart jokes).
When it came to this much delayed sequel (of sorts) to the film that made his name (and most still hold as his funniest), I wasn’t part of the camp who were decrying the idea. The concept of visiting his characters after approximately 10 years wasn’t a problem, and is in keeping with his comic book-inspired nature of the cohesive universe of characters that interact, sometimes in extremely loose ways.
In this film, Dante and Randall, the original clerks, are now working in Moobys, the Askew-verse fast food joint after their original place of work burnt down. However, Dante is in a relationship which will see him move to Florida and start working for his future father-in-law, leaving Randall to his own devices. Obviously, things don’t turn out as simple as that …
This is very much an updated version of the first film, with Dante choosing between two women, while Randall stays true to himself whatever the circumstances. Rosario Dawson, as the other women, is a geek dream, and blatantly far too hot for Dante – as Smith himself says, she deserves an Oscar for making you believe that she would fuck Dante. As the big name in the small cast, she integrates easily and is utterly charming, funny and sexy. And she is good – the line at the end where she says ‘What took you so long?’ is delivered so perfectly, it had me choking up a little.
It is strange seeing the world of Clerks in colour, which is perhaps why it starts and finishes with shots in black and white. There is no new ground compared with the previous, just a new set of parameters, but that doesn’t harm it. The main draw is the Smith dialogue, which flows with profane hilarity. The donkey scene isn’t nearly as funny/gross as it thinks it is, but the rest of the film makes up for that (even the completely bizarre yet cute musical number). Like nearly all his films, Smith is making a love letter to the person in his life, the message being about the importance of ‘getting the person’ in a relationship, and that’s something I can relate to.
John at Sore Eyes posited his rule of thumb that any film made more than five years after the previous entry in the series is guaranteed to be dreadful. He certainly has a point, but I think that Clerks II might be the exception that proves the rule …