Saturday, July 22, 2006

Review - Clerks II

Clerks II

Directed by Kevin Smith
Starring: Brian O'Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Rosario Dawson, Trevor Fehrman, Jennifer Schwalbach, Jason Mewes
Cameos: Ben Affleck, Jason Lee, Ethan Suplee, Kevin Weisman
Distributed by MGM Studios and The Weinstein Company
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Running Time: 1 Hour and 40 Minutes

3 Stars (out of 4)

Throughout his film career, Kevin Smith has given us gems such as Clerks, Dogma and Chasing Amy. His films have never been direct sequels as so much they were the continuing saga of Jay and Silent Bob. Clerks II is a direct sequel to his first film and Smith has proven that once again, it is okay to go home and dip into the well once more.

Clerks II follows the further exploits of Dante Hicks (O'Halloran) and Randal Graves (Anderson) twelve years later. The Quick Stop has burned down which forces our protagonists into working at a Mooby's fast food chain (of Dogma fame). Dante is engaged to Emma (Schwalbach who is married to Smith in real life) and planning on moving to Florida with her. Emma is controlling and overly protective of Dante, even going so far as to wear a shirt emblazeoned with a "Mrs. Hicks" prominently on the front. Dante is less spirited in the relationship, seeming to take the easy road while still holding a torch for the manager of Mooby's, Becky (Dawson). Randal is his sarcastic self, picking on cripples and angering Lord of the Rings fans. Jay and Silent Bob are still selling, but have picked Mooby's as their new turf. Elias (Fehrman) is the casheir who is hard core Christian with an affinity for the Transformers.

There are a couple relationships that are center to this film. The first is the relationship between Dante and Becky. After having sex once late one night after work, they have fallen for each other but haven't talked about it since. Dante is leaving because if he goes, he already will have a house and job waiting for him in Florida. Becky doesn't believe in romantic love so she keeps her yearning for Dante on the down low. The other relationship is that of Dante and Randal. They have been best friends since grade school and while he doesn't admit it, Randal is broken up about Dante leaving. This film has a lot to say about friendships and how a best friend can be as important to someone as the person they are in love with.

The situational comedy is excellent while Smith's ear for witty and engrossing dialogue is ever present. But while it has all this going for it, there are a few missteps in the film. The presence of Rosario Dawson overshadows the other actors - she is so good in comparison to everyone else, it is hard to look past some of the wooden performances. The "donkey show" scene goes on a little longer than it should. Some of the editing is a little nauseating at parts, but nothing to taint the whole film.

Kevin Smith has proven to be an important filmmaker. He made his first film for only $27,000 and proved that an independent film and director can make it in this industry. Smith's films are touching, witty and personal. The dialogue is sharp and the comedy is sometimes low brow (as he likes to call "dick and fart jokes") yet always seems to be a statement on society. Clerks II is another chapter in his "View Askew" universe that will be adored by his fans and probably some who aren't.

Clerks II is a more than worthy a follow-up to its predecessor. The characters feel as if they have not missed a step - they are like family that you are catching up with after not seeing them for awhile. It is more a meditation on getting older and taking charge of your life - of course with a donkey show and a cameo with Ben Affleck adorning a handlebar mustache thrown in. With a few miscalculations aside, this is one of the better comedies of the year so far.


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