Monday, April 8, 2013

Clerks II [A Fat Jesus Movie Review]

You all know that I love Kevin Smith and the majority of his movies. I've written a full review on Clerks earlier in the year and I'm more than excited that Kevin Smith has started up on the Clerks III script in recent weeks. But this is about Clerks II, Smith's follow up to his career making debut. A lot of people hail it as better than the first, with others thinking it's a lackluster squeal to his best film. I personally think it's one of the best follow-ups of all time. The inner 16 year old in me loves the raunchiness, while the 22 year old in me loves the emotion and storytelling. Randall, Dante and Jay and Silent Bob are back for the best movie about working in food service of all time.

Clerks II follows the story of Dante Hicks and Randal Graves (Brian O'Halloran and Jeff Anderson) as they now work at a Mooby's restaurant. They aren't working at Quick Stop and RST Video because one morning Dante finds the store on fire because Randall left the coffee pot on. One year later Dante is planning on leaving his job to move to Florida to run a car-wash with his fiancee Emma Bunting (Jennifer Schwalbach). Randall doesn't like the idea of being left alone once Dante moves. Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith) follow the duo and begin hanging out outside of the Mooby's now. Throughout the day, mishaps and misadventures occur between the four and their boss, Becky (Rosario Dawson), and younger employee Elias (Trevor Fehrman). They argue about Lord of the Rings with customers, accidentally say a racial slur in front of customers and get berated by an old friend from high school. It soon becomes clear that, like at Quick Stop, not a lot of works happens during work hours. The day before Dante leaves for Florida is filled with drama, dance numbers and even a Tijuana show that no one is soon to forget. This is truly a day that rivals any they ever had and these clerks never know how to handle things.

Kevin Smith movies, especially the View Askew ones, have a special place in my heart. They're really the first sort-of film series I ever got into. While I have gone back and still think the original is better, as a 16 year old seeing Clerks II for the first time, then going back to watch the other movies, it was a real treat. I recognize that Clerks is a better movie, but that doesn't mean that Clerks II doesn't hold that number two spot in my heart. Gooey gooey, mushy mushy, I know. Deal with it. The story telling and writing in this rival that of Dogma for me. While the characters and situations are fully reminiscent of other favorites such as Clerks and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. It's an odd blend of all the movies I like from Kevin Smith, poured into one giant glass of a movie. The story is written pretty well. Someone who has never seen a Kevin Smith movie before, wouldn't be lost watching Clerks II. The dialogue is believable, yet crazy enough to keep you grounded to the fact you're watching a movie. This is a comedy with emotional tendencies after all. Clerks II is full of what a middle aged men who never really "grew up" would say for a laugh. No matter how inappropriate or off color it may be. It appeals with the teenagers watching because they like to be rebellious, while the adults can actually appreciate the references being made. The story is a decent one to boot. Some of the best movies follow the story of something that happens in a day or night. Throw in the fact the characters are a bunch of easy going, carefree, humorous people. You're in for a story you can get into, cause you know how the characters are wound.

Speaking of the characters, they're who you remember them to be after the first movie. Dante is the kinda tightly wound guy that stuff just doesn't tend to go right for. Randal is the say anything guy, who just wants to make a living with is best friend. While Jay and Silent Bob are still the lovable stoner duo that will say and do anything for a laugh or to entertain themselves. Throw in the religious kid who has a lot of trouble with things outside of his religion and the new boss who may have inadvertently changed the course of of Dante and Randal's lives going forward.  The casting was great as well. The original four are exactly as you remember them. The new additions in Jennifer Schwalbach, Rosario Dawson and Trevor Fehrman all add another dimension to the daily interactions. While cameos from people like Ben Affleck, Wanda Sykes, Ethan Suplee and Jason Lee are welcome bits parts for some of the slower parts of the movie. The filming style is alright. The high points being driving along the suburban highways, autumn leaf covered roads and the pull out shot of Mooby's during the giants cast scene. But with the bulk of the movie happening in Mooby's itself it doesn't often lend  fantastic cinematic filming. I just love the music all around, not much more to say than that. The humor is very raunchy, but if you like any, or are even familiar of Smith's other work this should come as no surprise. I've always thought of Kevin Smith as a lite version of Quentin Tarantino. This movie is no different. Dialogue riddled with philosophy-esque questions, debates on topics of morality, drama, movies, and pop culture among other topics. They will not only have you laughing, but thinking and forming your own thoughts on what's being said.

Clerks II is my favorite Kevin Smith movie from the 2000s. Clerks is my favorite Kevin Smith movie from the 1990s. This bodes well for Clerks III presumably coming out in the 2010s. This movie completely updates the production value of the first film. It keeps the charm while adding new characters and keeping the charm of the ones returning. I never get tired of watching the Clerks franchise and Clerks II is just as good as the first. Kevin Smith has cemented himself as one of my favorite directors of all time and Clerks II is up there as one of my favorites of all time to boot.

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