After working in a New Jersey mini-mall for ten years, clerks Dante Hicks (Brian O'Halloran) and Randal Graves (Jeff Anderson) now flip burgers at Mooby's fast food restaurant. In the decade since we first met the clerks, things have changed: the mini-mall has burned to the ground, Peter Jackson has made The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and Dante is about to move to Florida with glamorous fiancée Emma (Jennifer Schwalbach). While their world has changed, only Dante has really grown into it. Randal is still Randal, riffing on George Lucas and various bodily functions, picking on new kid Elias (Trevor Ferhman) and tearing strips off every unsuspecting Mooby's customer he sees. Dante wants to move forward with his life but faces a fork in the road when he realises he is in love not with Emma, but with Becky (Rosario Dawson), his fast food manager.
Review by Joel Meares:
Kevin Smith takes a relaxed approach to the lewdness that characterises his films. In a career that has seen Smith scale the heights of offence - in Chasing Amy, Clerks, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back - Clerks II hovers somewhere at the peak, eyeing in its purview obscenities as unmentionable as bestiality and conversations detailing the most unthinkable minutia of sexual etiquette. It is all there but feels natural and unforced. If it was not all so casual and hilarious, this material might dazzle one into a state of repulsion. However, it is Smith's precise talent that he creates for us characters who obsess about what is normally taboo and for whom we completely fall. I even had a soft spot for kinky Kelly and her stud.
Away from considerations of the film's brazen content, Clerks II shows that Smith has overcome some of the amateurishness of his previous work as director while still maintaining the integrity of his script and performances. His screenplay is razor sharp if not airtight. With relaxation comes the occasional lull, but when these characters get going on subjects that rile them (Star Wars and racism among other things) Smith's pen has rarely been better. An exchange between Randal and Elias regarding Jackson's Lord of the Rings is particularly good.
Visually, the film is plain but matches the New Jersey landscape it maps. I love the decision to capture the banality of this world; choices to linger slightly on grimy floors and rusty signs. Smith treats his characters similarly. While Dawson glows and Ferhman is an adorable caricature, O'Halloran and Anderson are flabby and gently aged. There is a lovely humanity in their plight to simply do something, lensed brilliantly by Smith, who accepts them cinematically as the average Joes they play. What makes Clerks II a little more special than your average postmodern pop psychology fest is that one can see it comes from a genuine place. It is true, donkeys get buggered amongst much else, but every moment and every character is real and honest. Clerks II is a film with both fart and heart, and is highly recommended for the willing and able.
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CLERKS II (MA)
CAST: Brian O'Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Rosario Dawson, Trevor Fehrman, Jennifer Schwalbach Smith, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Jake Richardson, Ethan Suplee, Jason Lee
PRODUCER: Scott Mosier, Kevin Smith
DIRECTOR: Kevin Smith
SCRIPT: Kevin Smith
CINEMATOGRAPHER: David Klein
EDITOR: Scott Mosier, Kevin Smith
MUSIC: James L. Venable
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Robert Holtzman
RUNNING TIME: 98 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 31, 2006
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