Director: Kevin Smith
Writer: Kevin Smith
Starring: Brian O’Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Trevor Fehrman, Austin Zajur, Jason Mewes, Rosario Dawson, and Kevin Smith
Clerks III is finally here and it’s worth the almost decade wait. In that time the film was at one point scrapped, other now-cancelled films were in the works, Kevin Smith had a heart attack, and then brought back the iconic Jay and Silent Bob in their Reboot. Now we get to catch up with Dante (Brian O’Halloran) and Randal (Jeff Anderson) inside the Quick Stop.
Not a lot has changed in their lives in the sixteen years since the end of Clerks II. They’ve both gotten older, but their routines are largely the same as it was almost thirty years ago. The biggest difference is that Dante is struggling with the loss of his wife, Becky (Rosario Dawson, who died in a car accident in 2006. Randal, however, is still exactly the same, with no real ambition in life, that is until he has a heart attack that causes him to re-evaluate his legacy. Seeing that his existence has added up to nothing, Randal decides to make a film about the store that he’s worked in for most of his life, and sets to recreate his life.
This entry to the View Askew universe takes the meta-references to the next level, showing a timeline where the idea of making Clerks didn’t occur to the young Kevin Smith stand-in, Randall, and instead he’s almost fifty while still working at the Quick Stop. It’s a self-reflective story about the choices made in life, while also showing that no matter how ordinary our lives may seem there’s a great story in every one of them.
As you’d expect from Kevin Smith, there are plenty of laughs to be had. Most of the humour comes from call-backs and references to jokes from the previous films, with Dante and Randall setting forth to recreate the funniest moments of their lives. The jokes still work, and Smith doesn’t miss the opportunity to make comment on some of the jokes, highlighting how times have changed in the years since Clerks was first released. It’s not a one-trick film though, and there’s loads of new comedy, and even a group of great cameos who turn up to audition for Randall’s film.
Underneath the humour there is a deeper element. Both Dante and Randall are looking back at their lives, for different reasons, and realising that they’re both stuck in the past. While Randall’s side of the story is much more silly and about making the film, plus the comedy that comes with that, Dante’s story is much darker. When Becky died his life was put on pause, and he can’t move on. For something from Kevin Smith, it’s really moving, and Brian O’Halloran does a great job at making it feel real and impactful.
For anyone familiar to Smith’s podcasts, you’ll notice the similarities in his own life in this film. If you’ve heard him talk about his experience having a heart attack, then you’ll instantly recognise that story in Randal. It’s played out exactly the way that Smith describes it, really driving home how the characters and stories from Clerks have been borrowed from his own experiences.
Clerks III spends a lot of time looking backwards, recreating the greatest hits of Kevin Smith’s previous films. What makes it better than a clip-show is the surprising amount of emotional depth to it. The ending hits hard, and like Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, it shows a more sentimental side to Kevin Smith’s View Askewniverse.
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