Posted on June 19, 2018
Clerks is a comedy film directed by Kevin Smith that stars Brian O’Halloran and Jeff Anderson.
This black-and-white film follows a day in the lives of two store clerks, focusing mainly on dialog.
This film was shot on a shoe-string budget ($27,000) and was the first of Kevin Smith’s View Askewniverse films.
The Story (SPOILERS)
The film opens on a sleeping Dante Hicks, a 22-year-old cashier at the Quick Stop convenience store in Leonardo, New Jersey. He is called into work on his day off by his boss to cover for a sick employee.
As he arrives at the store, he finds the security shutters jammed. He hangs a sheet with a message: “I ASSURE YOU; WE’RE OPEN.”
Dante’s day is harsh and he repeatedly whines that he is “not even supposed to be here today”. Dante spends the day engaging in conversation with his best friend, Randal Graves.
Randal is a smart-ass slacker who works next-door at the RST Video store. He spends most of the day at the Quick Stop, keeping the video store “closed” all day.
They talk about Star Wars, Dante’s high school girlfriend Caitlin, and Dante’s current girlfriend Veronica.
Learning that he now stuck working the full day, Dante convinces his friends to play a game of hockey on the store roof. Their game is only twelve minutes because their only ball is thrown off the roof and into a sewer.
After re-opening the store, Dante discovers that one of his ex-girlfriends died and that her wake is today. Randal talks him into closing the store and going.
The funeral scene was deleted from the final cut, but Randal accidentally knocked over the casket by leaning on it five minutes in.
That night, Caitlin visits Dante and he is divided between choosing to be with her or Veronica. He decides to take Caitlin on a date and goes home to change.
He returns to discover that Caitlin had sex with a dead man in the unlit bathroom, mistaking the man for Dante. An ambulance takes the now catatonic Caitlin away with the man’s body.
Jay and Silent Bob, two slackers selling weed and loitering outside the shop, enter the Quick Stop to steal candy.
Aware of Dante’s problem, Silent Bob pauses and speaks his only line: “You know, there’s a million fine-looking women in the world, dude. But they don’t all bring you lasagna at work. Most of ’em just cheat on you.”
Dante immediately realizes that he loves Veronica. When she returns, Randal reveals that Dante asked Caitlin out.
Veronica then breaks up with Dante, telling him that Randal told her about Caitlin.
Dante attacks Randal and the two fight, making a mess of the store.
Afterward, they lie on the floor exhausted. Dante and Randal argue, mainly over their outlook of their lives.
They reconcile while cleaning the floor and Dante aims to visit Caitlin at the hospital and sort things out with Veronica.
The film ends with Randal walking out of the store and tossing Dante’s sign at him stating, “You’re closed!”
Clerks is a vulgar and juvenile little film that I love every second of. This was Kevin Smith’s claim to fame and it has a unique feel that he never re-captured.
His other films aren’t important for discussion in this review, but they all relied on how Clerks performed. His dedication to creating this film is admirable, especially when investigating it’s production further.
Dialog is Smith’s best attribute, so it shines brightly with this script. The quips, setups, and general delivery is such a fun ride that you forget how risqué some of the conversations are. Most of the scenes feel like genuine conversation and less like hokey line reads.
As a whole, I enjoy this film. It isn’t one of my favorite comedies, but it does have unique aspects that many films lack. The dialog both makes and breaks the film, mainly as it revolves solely around discussion.
If there is one thing that I wasn’t a fan of, it would be the scene with Jay at the end. According to a production documentary, Mewes was slightly drunk. The delivery was off-putting, but it led to Silent Bob’s great line.
How the film will stand the test of time is up to speculation, but I feel that it will endure as a nice time capsule.
It maintains an interesting view of the 90’s before the Internet really took over everything. For that (and several other reasons), it is certainly worth a watch.