Friday, January 25, 2013

Clerks [A Fat Jesus Movie And BluRay Review]

Clerks is easily one of my favorite movies of all time. Kevin Smith has been one of my favorite writers and directors for years now and first movie is arguably one of his finest. Almost 20 years later its really stood the test of comedy time. His crude, yet amazingly real, dialogue, stories and characters envelope you into to his work and Clerks may be his best. On Kevin Smith's first movie (and the long shot it ended up being) no less, this comedy was supposed to be here today.

Clerks follows the story of convenience store worker Dante Hicks (Brian O'Halloran) as he's called into work on his day off. The store is in New Jersey and the trouble starts as soon as he gets there to open. Someone has jammed gum into the locks of the stores shutters and he has to make a giant sign out of a sheet and shoe polish to let people know they're open. Vilification. Not long after opening an anti-smoking gang, is formed by a gum representative telling people buy gum rather than cigarettes that is broken up by Dante's girlfriend. Veronica Loughran (Marilyn Ghigliotti) and Dante then spend some time talking and get in an eventual fight about her giving fellatio to 37 people. Not long after Veronica goes to class after their fight, Randall Graves (Jeff Anderson), Dante's friend who works on the video rental side of the store, finally arrives to work. Malaise. Their half of the morning is spent dealing with the two stoners out front in Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith), talking about Star Wars and a host of other things related to their lives. Quandary. After learning that he won't be relieved the day becomes incredibly lax as the store is not tended well to or even open. They unfortunately hear that Dante's ex-girlfriend, Caitlin Bree (Lisa Spoonhauer) who he's still kinda hung up on, is getting married to an Asian design major. They also hear that one of their classmates has died and her memorial is that day. Denouement. In the end, as the day turns to the evening, the stories get bigger, a surprise reunion happens and customers get raunchier. It really makes you wonder, why any clerks ever are supposed to be there on a given day.

I almost don't even know where to start with this cause as of yet, I really haven't done a review of one of my all time favorite movies. Aside from the obvious look of this movie, made in 1993 for $27,000 dollars, it's not the most quality looking movie ever made. But that's part of its charm I think and where my sort of gripe about this movie ends. Also the shooting in black and white is awesome and it gives it that classic movie feel of a more modern movie. The story of the Quick Stop and RST Video store that fateful day is one of the most original and hilarious stories I've ever watched. Even with my more than multiple viewings of this I never get tired of all the antics everyone from Dante to Jay or Randall and Silent Bob pull. This brings me to the dialogue, which is immensely funny and not afraid to go anywhere. From deep moments relating Star Wars to contractors and laugh educing moments where a list of porn titles being said in front of a little girl. Also from one liners from Randall to the customers he hates to a brain-dead druggie popping in and out all day, there is no shortage of laughing to be had watching this.

The character development is awesome as you can pick up on the background of almost all the main characters. They are all written well and feel real, like they could really be the people that hate working at the convenience stores we all go to. Also making them wholly relateable is a touch not may comedies can go to, but this is one of those movies that does it really well. Though in a slightly exaggerated way. The actors that play the rag-tag group of misfits in this area of New Jersey that has Russian singers and hockey lovers are great as well. Brian O'Halloran and Jeff Anderson are an amazing duo (and looking forward to Clerks II) and have a great amount of on-screen comedic timing and presence as Dante and Randall. Jay and Silent Bob turn out to be staples of the View Askew Universe and Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith himself start off with a great supporting duo performance in this. Ending with the duo (I really like that word right now in this) of Marilyn Ghigliotti and Lisa Spoonhauer as Dante's current and ex-girlfriends are great compliments to O'Halloran when they're on screen. Not much cinematography to speak of in this but the music during the title cards and the "Berserker" songs are perfect.

In short, in this day of internet and technology this is a great movie that shows life in the early 90s. For a kid like me who actually grew up in the 90s, I'm happy that some of the best movies were made when I was a kid so I can go back and re-watch them like this. Kevin Smith has a lot of movies I adore, actually most of his films to be completely honest. I'm a kid at heart for the nostalgia aspect of this, the teenager at heart that loves raunchy comedy and the adult in me loves the storytelling of this. Clerks is one of the best comedies of all time and makes me glad Dante was supposed to be there that day.

With my disc reviews that I've done so far I really like to start with the commentary track I decide to watch. With this 15th Anniversary BluRay there is a couple of tracks you can choose from depending on the movie version you decide to watch. In the theatrical cut, you get original commentary from 1995. Or with the first cut (which I chose to watch), with commentary from the [full] main cast in Kevin Smith, Jason Mewes, Scott Mosier, Jeff Anderson and Brian O'Halloran. As well as an intro from Kevin filmed in 2004, I believe for the Clerks X dvd set. Anywho, the commentary track is awesome as it turned into stories about the filming of the movie back in 1993, Mosier seeing Kevin's mom naked in almost a moment of sleepy twilight and all the points where lines were hard to get out. Kevin and the crew were highly funny and this was more like listening to a podcast while watching the movie and I don't mind that one bit.

There are a ton of featurettes on this huge set so I'm going to jump right into the three that stood out to me most! "Clerks: The Lost Scene" is great. This is the memorial service scene done in the Clerks animated series style. It was taken out cause it would've been too much of a hassle to make for the original movie. It's funny, written well and if they had somehow filmed it, it would've gone into the movie perfectly. "The Flying Car" is another great feature. When Smith was going around in the early 2000s doing press he would use this short of Dante and Randall being stuck in traffic. Randall posed this question to Dante on whether or not he would cut his foot off for a flying car and it escalates to side-splitting hypothetical situations. This was a great watch and Jeff and Brian looked great for being Dante and Randall for the first time together since Clerks.  These last two are pretty cool as well. MTV contacted Smith to do intros and breaks that they would air between videos and such. So they added all eight of these little intros, so to speak, and they're pretty cool little spots featuring Jay and Silent Bob. The other one is "Clerks Auditions." This is cool because I haven't seen too many of these thrown on sets throughout the years. Being able to see Brian O'Halloran, Marilyn Ghigliotti and Jeff Anderson do some monologues and earn their characters was a cool behind the scenes look.

"Snowball Effect: The Story of Clerks" is a feature length documentary that's included with this set (and the Clerks X set as well). This is pretty amazing as it's a complete in-depth look of Kevin Smith's life. From his city wide popular sketch troop in high school, to seeing SLACKER (his inspiration movie) and finally dropping out of film school mid-way through to start the inception of Clerks and everything beyond is a wonder to behold. "Mae Day: The Crumbling of a Documentary" is another cool addition to this set. This is the short that Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier made while in film school together before Kevin left. It was supposed to be a documentary about a transsexual, who ended up dropping out, so it turned into people revealing their true feelings about the two not being able to get their act together. Not near as good as anything he's done since "breaking out", but it's nice to see where his mind was way early in his career. Finally the "10th Anniversary Q&A" was filmed after the first showing of the remastered edition and features almost the entire cast. The questions were fairly good as it propelled the cast and crew into hilarious one liners and stories about their experience in the making of Clerks ten years prior.

This set is massive and I didn't even cover everything on this set. Granted if you own Clerks X you still have a lot of this stuff, you don't have it in high def. You don't have a nifty new commentary track. You don't have the BluRay exclusive Making-Of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and another new introduction by the mastermind behind Clerks. This set is cool, to me, cause I haven't watched Clerks X in awhile. But for fans of this movie or Kevin Smith in general, this is a great way to get your full Clerks experience all in one BluRay set.

Fat Jesus on Squidoo

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