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Clerks. (1994)



Genre: Comedy

Starring: Brian O'Halloran (Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back Vulgar), Jeff Anderson ("Clerks: The Animated Series" Clerks II)

Directed By: Kevin Smith (Chasing Amy  Mallrats)

Overview: Dante gets dragged into work on his day off. Between cries of "I wasn't even supposed to BE here today!" we learn of his customers, his irresponsible co-workers, his love life, and the weird things that happen in the convenience store industry.

I first saw Clerks when it was new, when Kevin Smith was new, before his epic Dogma, before his epic 4-hour An Evening with Kevin Smith, before he lost his Indie cred. I like Indie, it makes me feel underground. Zack and Miri Make a Porno, Clerks II, Jersey Girl, Cop Out? Wait, seriously? Cop Out. You direct a movie that aptly describes your career?! That's the very definition of ironic, by the way. Sure I'm being harsh, and ok, I preferred Cop Out to Mallrats anyways, but Chasing Amy, Mallrats and Clerks was, IMHO, the good ol' Indie Kevin Smith that I appreciated. When Dogma, and the rest of his big-budget movies started coming out, I began to doubt Kevin Smith's auteur-ness. Before I give me you my opinions let me assume you haven't seen Clerks and tell you a little about what you can expect, plot-wise.

Dante is a 22-year-old employee of Quick Mart. It's super early when his phone rings. It's his boss, informing Dante that another employee has called in sick and that Dante needs to open the store. Dante's angry. He just closed last night. He has a hockey game at 2:00. He needs assurances that he'll be relieved in time. The boss promises. Dante goes in. Through short vignettes, we explore a day in the life of a Quick Mart employee, from anti-smoking uprisings to selling cigarettes to 4-year-olds, from 'Milkmaids' searching for the ideal expiry date on a jug of milk to that weird customer trying to find that perfect carton of eggs. We explore Date's love life too, from his current girlfriend Veronica to his long-pined-for ex girlfriend Bree that he wants instead, and through it all, the daily observations on humanity shared by Dante and his criminally irresponsible friend Randal who works at the video store next door. And yes, Kevin Smith too, as part of the Jay and Silent Bob duo, made famous only by the fact that they're in so many of Kevin Smith's movies.

When I watched Clerks for the second time, it was with a heavy dollop of pre-conceived notions: it's a dirt-cheap movie with bad acting; it's poorly written compared to the stuff I've been watching for the last few years since my all-consuming passion that is 1001 Movies Before I Die has made me screen classic after classic; it's made by a guy who sold out his passion at making HIS movie for making movies written by others. And I was right. The second time around it all seemed so forced, so obviously written and acted by people all too completely aware of the presence of its observers, we the audience. The first scene where the phone rings and we see Dante roll out of his closet to answer it is beyond cliché, it's my Dad elbowing me saying "Huh? Get it?!" after telling me a stupid joke and seeing me rolling my eyes instead of laughing. The writing, too, is inhuman. People don't talk like this unless they're opening a can of prepared dialogue for a job interview, or when, say, reading what's written in a script. And the characters? The worst are by far Jay and Silent Bob. Why these people are endearing is beyond me.

But I couldn't help laughing, and laughing often. I tried to judge the subtext behind this movie, and the history that tainted it since then. I tried to hate Clerks as the snob I've become in my adventures through cinema, and I couldn't. It's funny. It's forced and no that doesn't add to the film but it doesn't take much away either. It's fun. it's Indie. It's underground, but it's accessible, and it's worth seeing because there's no one as awesome as Randal the wise video store clerk, who, in front of a child, orders a string of porno titles ever raunchier than the last, my personal favourites being 'Cum-Gargling Naked Sluts' and 'Cum On Eileen'.

This film has my favourite numerical quote, and that quote is "37?!"
This film has my favourite numerical quote, and that quote is "37?!"

Performance: 6 Cinematography: 7 Script: 6 Plot: 6 Mood: 8

Overall Rating: 66% (Check It Out Anyway)
1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die Aftertaste:

All I need add is I'm sure glad 1001 picked this Kevin Smith work instead of Dogma. There's nothing more blasphemous that having that ugly horesefaced attitude-of-entitlement muttonhead Alanis in the role of God. [Insert your favourite of the worst swear-words here].

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