"Clerks" Review
© 2000 Fontaine L.

A friend of mine bugged me for about a year and a half to watch the Kevin Smith series: "Clerks," "Mallrats," "Chasing Amy," and "Dogma." And I have to watch them in sequence. So I'm starting here, with "Clerks," the movie that inspired a prodigious cult following. All because of the various recommendations I've gotten, and because I want to see Matt Damon in "Dogma," and I gotta watch everything in sequence. Whatever. I was surprised at the student film-quality of the film. I was surprised it was in black and white. I suspected it would look/color a lot like the quirky romantic comedies these days, but I was wrong. The black and white gave it an edgy look, a la "River's Edge." After I got over the initial shock and discomfort at watching a non smoothly-produced movie, the uneven editing and the unsophisticated look, I was able to sink into the movie and appreciate it for what it is: a 90's version of "The Breakfast Club."

There is no denying that "Clerks" and "The Breakfast Club" are two radically different movies. The expression is different but the message is the same: Don't take things for given. Examine yourself, your life. "Clerks" brought that across in a gritty, non-Hollywood sort of way. The movie is at times boring with its inactivity but the dialogue always gives you something to think about. The dialogue between the characters, who always seem to be rushing through their lines, may seem slick and forced at times (after all who really goes on rambling diatribes like that?), but there are some genuinely honest and effective moments. Randel, for example, offers many truisms that forces self-examination in the audience. And what is truly endearing about the film isn't its humor (which, though not as constantly present as people make it out to be, is always uproarious), its okay plot, or the ambition of the filmmakers. It is the versatility and realism of the characters. They aren't stereotypical, pigeonholed, or type cast. Dante Hicks, whom the audience comes to sympathize with, isn't your average Hollywood leading man; nor is Randel the average annoying sidekick. From Jay and Silent Bob, loyal Veronica, to every single eccentric customer in the store, it is, as the video case advertises, "mankind at its craziest." As a behind-the-counter wage slave myself, the characters were eerily familiar. I sympathize with their everyday-bloke frustration, problems, sarcasm, and anger. And somehow through it all, I've made peace with my customers.

Rating: B- (First viewing, 8/19/00)