Clerks III Reviews Have Arrived, And Critics Are 'Surprised' About Kevin Smith's New Comedy Sequel

The gang is back together, as Dante and Randal have returned to the Quick Stop 15 years after Kevin Smith brought us Clerks II. While a film to complete the trilogy wasn’t always in the cards, the filmmaker was inspired to write Clerks III after suffering a heart attack in 2018. The story will follow Randal (Jeff Anderson) and Dante (Brian O'Halloran) in their attempts to make a movie after Randal’s own medical emergency. Smith has said his family takes issue with the meta aspect of the storyline, but do critics have the same hangups?

Along with Jeff Anderson and Brian O’Halloran, Clerks III will, of course, see the return of Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith as Jay and Silent Bob, respectively, Marilyn Ghigliotti is also back as Veronica, along with Rosario Dawson and, according to the trailer, we’ll get at least a cameo from Ben Affleck. So let’s jump into the reviews to see where critics think this ranks on the Kevin Smith movie tier list. We’ll start with CinemaBlend’s review of Clerks III, which Mike Reyes rates 3.5 out of 5 stars. He says this third offering in the series goes harder on the drama, bringing a "surprise" to the trilogy’s finale: 

Running throughout the film is usual blend of raunchy, pop culture humor and deeper personal drama that Kevin Smith has made great use of in the past. The surprise that lies ahead of viewers eager to see Clerks III is just how dramatic things get. Walking away from this movie, it feels like this story is the closest that Kevin Smith has ever come to making an all out drama.

Danielle Ryan of SlashFilm rates the movie 8 out of 10, saying this Kevin Smith at his most personal. While there are plenty of laughs to be had, this critic says the audience might actually shed a few tears during this one: 

Fans in search of the mile-a-minute crass comedy of some of his earlier work, including the first Clerks and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, might be disappointed by this deeply heartfelt dramedy that deals with some tough topics, but Clerks III is one of the best things Smith has ever made.

Matt Donato of IGN says the good far outweighs the bad in this movie, which combines the expected crude humor with the musings of a father and husband who has come face to face with his own morality. He rates the movie a “Great” 8 out of 10, saying: 

Clerks III delivers all the inappropriate cuss-cluttered humor and pot smoke that is Kevin Smith's trademark but evolves his sentimentality beyond bong-rip wisdom. The third Clerks installment is a moving ode to working-class nobodies that amplifies Smith's touchstone sincerity above Randal's not-so-passive aggression or Jay's lit-for-days attitude. Smith might be the most in touch he's ever felt as a filmmaker, and it's a semi-departure that presents Clerks III as a precursor for what's still to come from the rebooted writer/director. Whatever my quibbles are with the film's length and less successful humor when being just another Clerks sequel are a critic's nitpicks — a critic who still felt satisfied by Clerks III in 36 more ways than presumed possible.

Hope Madden of Maddwolf rates the movie 3 stars out of 5, saying that the whole movie is an inside joke, but one that will hit with those who are on the inside: 

For Clerks IIII, Smith delivers a wild mix of amateurish moments, inspired soundtrack choices (that’s the first time I ever enjoyed My Chemical Romance’s Welcome to the Black Parade), sentiment, callbacks, social commentary, and genuine fondness. The end of the filmmaker’s slacker trilogy delivers an ode to independent filmmaking and his own journey as a filmmaker.

Not everyone is so kind to Kevin Smith’s latest effort, however. Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle finds little to care about in this movie after Randal’s heart attack, noting that even the usually sharp dialogue is lacking. From the review:

The banter, often Smith’s strong suit, is witless and tiresome, mostly obsessive conversations about minor characters in Star Wars and other aspects of pop culture. It’s probably not Smith’s intention, but we end up feeling sorry for the characters, that they inhabit such a tiny mental landscape. So this is where we stand: The dialogue can’t save Clerks III — the dialogue is part of the problem — and the plot holds little interest. The audience is never made to care whether Randal’s movie ever gets made. It can’t convince us that Smith even thinks we should care.

It sounds like Kevin Smith’s fans will likely enjoy this more sober look at the universe he created 28 years ago, and we will have a chance to check it out for ourselves when Clerks III hits theaters on Tuesday, September 13. In the meantime, check out CinemaBlend’s interviews with Kevin Smith, Jason Mewes and more, as well as our 2022 Movie Release Schedule to see what other films are headed your way soon.

Heidi Venable
Content Producer

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Thrives on New Orleans Saints football, The West Wing and taco trucks.