Clerks II

Clerks II


Reviewed by: Chris

How do you follow up an early record-breaking, low budget film when you're rich and famous? Director Kevin Smith waited more than 10 years to revive the story of Clerks, a black-and-white movie set in a convenience store that cost less to make than the rights for its soundtrack. Its sharp, witty and irreverent dialogue helped to create a cult following and established Smith as a leading force in indie cinema. Twelve years on, and Clerks II hits our screens, aspiring to the same sort of laughs, enraging parents, and yet staying a notch above merely scatological offerings such as American Pie. The opening scene (in black and white) has owner Dante Hicks unlocking the metal shutters on his run-down shop front. As they roll up, the store is fiercely ablaze (in colour) and he steps back aghast, years of work up in flames.

Dante soon ends up working at Mooby's, a fast food dive run by Becky (brilliantly played by Rosario Dawson), while his fiancee Emma, a rich, stunning, but overbearing blonde, makes plans to move him to Florida to work for daddy. Characters from the old shop are reprised and, together with various walk-in stooges, the scene is set for Clerks II - in only a slightly different surroundings from Clerks.

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So does the film hold up? Kevin Smith has shown himself capable of bringing us intellectually stimulating comedy such as Chasing Amy as well as trash such as Mallrats. Where does Clerks II stand?

The overall verdict is good. I split my sides twice before the opening credits had finished, was slightly bored during the extended religious gags, but had my confidence restored by the hilarious Lord of the Rings jokes and extended arguments against marriage, and by the belief that Dante has that there is maybe 'only one person out there' for a dork like him and it happens to be the beautiful Emma. (The argument goes, bearing in mind how many people there are out there in the world, "There's always gonna be someone out there who's a better match for you than the person you end up marrying.") Dante is shaken. His quest for control of his own destiny is shaken. All this sets us up for a hilarious (if formulaic) love triangle and wonderful ending - though not before some inter-species erotica, buggery and off-camera masturbation that will practically guarantee the film an 18 certificate for dialogue alone.

Clerks II's biggest weakness is probably the religious gags. Smith is a churchgoer who has enjoyed commenting on religion in his previous films (Dogma, where the last known descendant of Christ was called on to save humanity, attracted much criticism from the Church but ultimately focused on the distinction between faith and dogma, and the regaining of faith, for those who could be bothered). There's one of those cheesy credits at the end of Clerks II, thanking God for his support, blah blah. But in what is essentially a comedy, the jokes should stand on their own merit. A tirade explaining that Jesus Christ just needed a good lawyer to get him off might raise a wry smile from the faithful, but, like the whole of Dogma, is ultimately preachy and just made me yawn. Clerks II's Kinky Kelly and Her Donkey Show might be not be exactly high-brow, but they help regain the momentum and provide excuses for some neat enveloping towards the end of the film, as smoke rises from the diner and we return to black and white.

Not the sequel to end all sequels, Clerks II will still not disappoint existing fans and will undoubtedly create many new ones - an expectation underlined by its instant sell-out screenings at the Edinburgh Festival and, I heard, rapturous audience response at Cannes.

Reviewed on: 07 Sep 2006
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The clerks start life anew in another miserable retail job.
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Read more Clerks II reviews:

Dylan Matthew ****
Anton Bitel ***1/2
Gator MacReady ***1/2


EIFF 2006

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