Director Kevin Smith follows up his string of low-budget movies with this hilariously funny slacker flick about Dante and Randal, the same two pals from the 1994 smash hit indie sensation Clerks, who waste the day away working in a burger joint, and due to some very weird material, are arrested, and return to their old ways. If you haven"t previously seen any of Smith"s work, it may be an idea to watch his back history before attempting to watch and understand this film, due to references from characters, scenes and sayings, but also reality. Jay and Silent Bob reveal they have money to lend to Dante and Randal to reopen the Quick Stop, as in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, they get a bunch of money from the Bluntman & Chronic movie. The characters of Jay and Silent Bob for example are now drug-free after having been busted and put on probation to reflect Jason Mewes' newfound sobriety. But rest at ease, they are otherwise still up to their usual antics.
The movie begins and ends just like Clerks, in black and white, and also with similar shots. The opening shots of lights going on at Mooby's and Dante putting coffee in the coffee pot echo the opening of the original, and in the end, when Dante and Randal put a sign out front the Quick Stop reading "I assure you, we're re-open!" and Randal"s line to Dante " you're not even supposed to be here today!" echoing a repeated line from the first film.
What makes this flick both winning and moving is its fidelity to the original "Clerks" ethic of hanging out, talking trash and refusing all worldly ambition. The conventional romantic-comedy has its elements imbedded here, with love, marriage and err...horses, as well as Smith"s fondness for crude jokes regarding all distasteful topics that Smith enthusiasts have come to expect. In addition to romance and humour, Smith is at his best as a self-implicating comedian of geek culture. The apex is a genuinely inspired debate between Randal and employee Elias about the relative merits of Star Wars vs. Lord of the Rings.
One thing that was missing from this film was Silent Bob"s traditional philosophical speech. In Mallrats, Chasing Amy and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, he has one scene of dialogue, which shows his intelligence. Here, he is asked if he has anything to say, but has nothing. On the bright side, no Smith production would be complete without some of his actor friends returning; here we have Jason Lee and Ben Affleck giving cameo appearances.
It may have taken Smith 13 years, some say an unlucky number, to produce the sequel to a greatly loved flick, but there was no better time. Film fanatics have come to see Smith develop in his skills, throughout Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and Jersey Girl, to get to that stage where Clerks II is able to blow them out of the water and possibly become his best flick to date. Smith"s return has proven he can still cut it out there in Hollywood with the best writer directors LA has to give. Can"t wait to see what his next flick has in store for viewers.
'American Dad's' Stan Smith once said to Roger: "You're the Adam Sandler of this family, and we don't want 'Punch Drunk Love', just give us 'The Waterboy' and be done with it!" one imagines Kevin Smith's most trusted advisors imparting similar advice in 2004, after the bearded auteur's rom-com misfire 'Jersey Girl'. And though the Affleck, Tyler, Lopez film wasn't that bad, especially by conventional Hollywood standards, it still didn't look or sound like the work of the same guy who'd bought us 'Chasing Amy' or 'Dogma'. In many ways, we (the fans) were to Smith what Randal is to Dante in this movie, it was our refusal to engage with any film that didn't feature the recognizable motifs from the New Jersey Saga (1994-2001) that forced him to return to his roots. Trying to write a sequel for an undisputed cult classic and one of the defining pictures of the 1990s (along with 'Office Space' and 'Reality Bites') was never going to be an easy task. After all, the whole thing smacks of a desperate 180 back into a universe the writer/director claimed he'd leave forever: for 'Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back' was widely touted as the last hurrah for the old 'Viewaskew' gang, and wasn't the sight of Randle Randling off into the sunset a fitting conclusion (unlike the hilariously inappropriate Dante-gets-shot ending) for our slacker heroes?
Thankfully 'Clerks 2', though slight & often repetitive, is funny enough not to tarnish the memory of its predecessor, and by the time 'The New And Improved' Jay and Silent Bob start up their shtick, Smith fans, like his protagonists, will find themselves in a safe and familiar place. 'Clerks 2' skilfully manages to pick up the story of cashiers Randal (Jeff Anderson) & Dante (Brian O'Halloran) 13 years on, making this a film about second, third and forth chances, fleshing out Randal's character whilst focusing on another relationship dilemma for Dante. The famously lazy director, known for his lack of camera movements, also makes a point of using exceptionally bright and colourful sets in stark and deliberate stylistic contrast to the black & white original. Good performances all round, look out for a cute cameo by Smith's daughter and I suppose a special mention ought to go out to the director's wife Jennifer Schwalbach who, considering she's not an actress, puts in a halfway decent performance in a rather awkward and thankless role. Jeff Anderson proves yet again that he's a rare comedic genius, his war of words in a 'Star Wars' vs. 'Lord Of The Rings' debate is vintage Smith, and though we're treated to cameos from 'Chasing Amy' alumni Jason Lee & Ben Affleck, I would've liked to have seen more references to the original, perhaps an update on accidental necrophiliac Caitlin Bree or Alyssa's sister Heather Jones. For all its expected vulgarity (no worse than the 'American Pie' movies) 'Clerks 2' is actually a sweet story about friendship, modern life and the choices we make. I hope Smith continues to pen his distinctive dialogue for new characters, personally, I'd love to see him write more NJ stories, never retire Jay & Silent Bob and reunite the killer duo of Affleck & Lee, or to put it another way: Snooch to the motherf***ing nootch. Bong!
If you are easily offended, go buy the latest wishy-washy romcom and save yourself the pain.
If you are a bit less uptight or a fan of all thing View Askew, then dive on in - this is Smith's funniest yet.
There was much fear in the air with the whiff of the fairly mainstream Jersey Girl still around and the original Clerks being sacred ground, but Smith gives a big **** you to all that and again works his genius with these characters.
In many ways its a shame that Smith will be forever limited to these characters as it would be fun to see him try his hand at horror or finally getting a comic film gig, but when he serves up treats like this, well, you cant really complain.
If you want to see a bit of interspecies erotica or understand the true meaning of pillow-pants, dive in..
Along with Borat (for different reasons), the funniest film of last year, remember to watch Clerks first though and impress your friends with your in-joke knowledge!
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Sequel to Kevin Smith's 1994 low-budget indie hit, 'Clerks'. Ten years ago, best friends Dante Hicks (Brian O'Halloran) and Randal Graves (Jeff Anderson) were New Jersey mini-mall clerks still slacking off together in their early twenties. A decade on, a calamity at Dante and Randall's shops sends them looking for new horizons - but they ultimately settle at Mooby's, a Disney-McDonald's-style fast-food empire. While Dante prepares to move to Florida and marry Emma (Jennifer Schwalbach), Randal harasses geeky 'Funployee of the Month' Elias (Trevor Fehrman), a dweeb who worships 'The Transformers' and believes, much to Randal's consternation, that 'The Lord of the Rings' is superior to 'Star Wars'. Also back are Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Smith), who contribute their own warped world view of sex, drugs, and rock and roll.