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Film Review: Clerks
In 1994, Kevin Smith released Clerks as his directorial debut. Starring Brian O’Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Marilyn Ghigliotti, Lisa Spoonhauer, Jason Mewes, Smith, Scott Mosier, Scott Schiaffo, Al Berkowitz, Walt Flanagan, Ed Hapstak, Pattijean Csik, Ken Clark, Ernest O’Donnell, Kimberly Loughran, Frances Cresci, and Gary Stern, the film grossed $3.2 million at the box office and launched Smith’s career as well as his View Askewniverse. Winner of the Award of the Youth and the Mercedes-Benz Award at the Cannes Film Festival and nominated for the Independent Spirit Awards for Best First Feature, Best First Screenplay and Best Debut Performance, the film has become a cult classic and garnered an animated television series, a series of comic books and a sequel in 2006.
Dante Hicks is called into work at the Quick Stop, even though it’s his day off and later in the day, his friend Randal shows up to work at the RST Video store. However, Randal spends more time at the convenience store than at the video store and at the same time, Dante’s girlfriend, Veronica comes by to talk and Dante finds out that she’s gotten around. Throughout the day, Dante and Randal stop work for a hockey game and go to a wake while also running into Dante’s ex-girlfriend. At the same time, the space in front of the building is populated by a drug-dealing duo named Jay and Silent Bob.
An interesting film to kick off a cinematic universe, Clerks is a great and witty film. Even though the story revolves around a random schmuck that’s spinelessly caves in and comes to work on what’s supposed to be his day off, it’s interesting to see everything that happens in it. It’s clear that Dante is unsatisfied with his life, being a convenience store clerk and the film shows the lengths he goes through to make it so that he can get of working and try to get away with it. What’s more is its always entertaining when the film goes back to Jay and Silent Bob to focus on the weird antics the two of them are getting into while loitering in front of the store.
Though, with the simplicity of the plot, it’s the characters that really make the film what it is and none of them are completely good. Yet, the characters treating Dante and Randal rudely seem to be at least somewhat justified considering that said customers believe the two of them aren’t really taking their jobs seriously. However, it’s clear that Dante does take his job seriously, it’s just that he wasn’t supposed to be there that day. Further, Dante’s mind is really elsewhere during most of the day, with him finding out that his ex-girlfriend is going to get married and that his current girlfriend has done much more than he initially thought when it comes to guys. Still, Dante has a habit of blaming everything that happens to him on somebody else and consistently plays the victim card.
It’s that overuse of the victim card that ends up prompting not only Randal and Veronica, but Jay and Silent Bob to shut Dante up about his self-pity. He keeps complaining that he had to come in on his day off and how much he hates his job to which Veronica keeps telling him to go back to school so he can get a better job. Randal ends up responding that he was spineless and could have told his boss that he wasn’t going to come in simply because it was his day off. Later on in the film, Dante is at it again complaining about his woes with women, prompting Jay and Silent Bob to simply tell him that it’s his own fault and the latter even speaks up to poignantly say that most girlfriends just cheat and very few of them will go out of their way to give their boyfriend a lasagna at work, which Veronica did.
Another great aspect to the film is how realistic the conversations are, the most notable example is the one Randal and Dante have concerning the construction workers working on the Death Star in Return of the Jedi. It actually feels like a conversation between two friends rather than lines of dialogue, especially when the roofer buts in and gives his two cents.
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