Courtesy of Miramax
With Clerks III coming out in select theaters soon, now is a good time to revisit the film that started it all, going back to 1994. Clerks is Kevin Smith’s first film and the first film in the View Askewniverse, a film universe consisting of many other films, including Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. The movie stars Brian O’Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Marilyn Ghigliotti, Jason Mewes, and Kevin Smith. The film is about a young adult named Dante Hicks that is called into work, even though he’s not supposed to be there that day. So many things go wrong for him on this day both at work and in his personal life.
As previously mentioned, Clerks is Smith’s first film. The movie was filmed in black and white, and Smith had to go through a lot to get funds for this film. The film mostly takes place in the Quick Stop convenience store where Smith worked in real life. Also, this film didn’t have a well-known cast at the time. Despite all of this, Smith created one of the funniest films ever made.
What makes Clerks work out so well is the style of humor. Kevin Smith, while making these Askewniverse films, does this risky, edgy humor that could be seen as offensive and taboo nowadays. Smith is the only one who can pull it off and make it hilarious. For example, there is a scene in the film where Dante and his friend Randal Graves go to someone’s funeral, and five minutes later, something happens. The audience later finds out Randal knocked a casket over, and in real life, that would not be funny, but the way it was set up and the line delivery about the situation make it funny in this film.
Another great thing about Clerks is the characters. Brian O’Halloran as Dante is great, as well as Jeff Anderson as Randal. Dante is a character many people can relate to in this film. He’s called into work on his day off, gets harassed by customers, tries to be polite to those who don’t deserve it, has unreliable co-workers, and is dealing with personal problems. Dante is conflicted on whether he should stay with his girlfriend Veronica, played by Marilyn Ghigliotti, or try to restart a relationship with his former girlfriend Caitlin, played by Lisa Spoonauer. Randal is more carefree, doesn’t take things seriously, is impolite, and comes to work late.
This film also introduces the two most popular Askewniverse characters, Jay and Silent Bob, portrayed by Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith. These are two hilarious characters that never get dull. Jay is rude, loves to sell drugs, and never stops talking, while Silent Bob is quiet until the end of the film when, he gives Dante advice. It’s funny because in real-life interviews, Jason Mewes seems more reserved and quiet, and Kevin Smith never stops talking. Also, it’s crazy to think that after Clerks, the studio wanted to replace Mewes with Seth Green because Green was more well-known. Luckily, Kevin Smith made sure Mewes stayed on as Jay in future movies.
Kevin Smith’s choices in music are also entertaining. It gives the film a real 1990s feel along with the other things. The choices in music fit the scenes perfectly. It’s also a film that mostly took place in the Quick Stop convivence store and the movie rental store. Even though this movie took place in the 1990s, some of the problems Dante deals with at work can still happen to anyone twenty-eight years later. For example, anyone working in a store still deals with cranky and annoying customers just as Dante did.
Overall, Clerks remains Kevin Smith’s best film and one of the funniest films ever made. The cast is great in their roles. I love how it mostly takes place in one location. The humor may not be for everyone, but it remains hilarious after all these years. I highly recommend you go watch Clerks if you haven’t already.
Final Grade: A+
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