The King of Cult Following has graced his fans with yet another masterpiece. “Clerks II” is one of the true hits of summer cinema. Not only does it deliver enough laughs for the general public, but those more familiar with the Jersey Trilogy (now in it’s sixth part) will have plenty to be impressed about in this latest Kevin Smith saga.
Clerks II opens as Smith’s original out-of-pocket indie flick opened a decade ago – in black and white with consummate clerk Dante coming in to work at the Quick Stop. But when he finds it’s burning down, he and friend/coworker Randall have to find new work. They do, taking a corporate gig as burger boys at Mooby’s, and the film follows Dante’s last day at work before his marriage and move to Florida.
The casting here is a no-brainer. The standard pen of Smith actors makes their newest triumphant appearance in this film (sans the “Jersey Girl” castÃ¢Â?Â¦that one didn’t count). Jay and Silent Bob (played by Smith), Randall and Dante, Jason Lee and even Affleck are all here, and all on point. As per the Kevin Smith formula, there are a few newcomers in the mix. Rosario Dawson plays Dante’s manager in the film, and while she works well as a complicating factor for Dante, her banter falls a little flat sometimes. She’s plausible enough and hangs tough, but she seems just a little off-kilter in a film that runs entirely on off-kilter characters.
The film, written, directed, and acted as usual by Smith, pays homage to the bad angles, sophomoric humor, and pop culture riffing that made the original “Clerks” more loveable than the $27,000 Smith paid out-of-pocket to make it. Smith obviously has a bigger budget this time, so the film is shot in color, but beyond that, it’s a simple pickup from much the same place the original left off. Those who enjoyed the original will enjoy this one as well. The faces are mostly the same, the humor is largely intact. The only significant difference is the drive of a stronger plot, the color film, and the change in uniform. Other than that, Smith lets his characters play.
Which I think is one of the reasons I like this film so much. Granted, I’m a big fan of Smith and the student film-ness of the original Clerks, but when I heard this project had finally come to fruition, I got cold feet. After all that money and all those awards and all the accolades from his legions of scary fans, could Smith really bring his boys full circle? The answer is a relieved yes, as Smith proves he really hasn’t changed that much in 12 years, just gotten a little more practice. Clerks II is the rightful place for the original to begin again, and oddly, it’s the place that the two films can end, as Smith brings the film to a fitting and almost sentimental end.
All things considered, Clerks II is a fun ride from beginning to end. With a little something for everyone, and a lot of things for fans of the original film, Clerks II is a fitting continuation – and one has to wonderÃ¢Â?Â¦conclusion? – to both the Jersey Trilogy and the sardonic duo of counter men who first showed the world that black and white can be just as funny – and a whole lot cheaper – than color.