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Clerks: 6+ Thoughts I Had While Rewatching The Kevin Smith Movie

Brian O'Halloran and Jeff Anderson in Clerks
(Image credit: Miramax Films)

Clerks may now be one of the most popular cult classics. It started as an indie darling that grew to have a passionate and dedicated fan base, for both the movie and Kevin Smith. Much later, it became a franchise film series with Clerks 2 and the recently released Clerks 3, which was one of the highly anticipated upcoming movies.

I am a Smith movie fan, so I’ve seen all of his greatest hits, and I have seen Clerks multiple times. However, it’s been quite a while since I’ve rewatched it. In order to prepare for the new film, I decided to go back to the start, and, I have some thoughts. 

Jay and Silent Bob in Clerks

(Image credit: Miramax Films)

Clerks Feels Like What Happens When Workplace Sitcoms Meet One Epic Night Movies 

Clerks is in a category of its own with its style, tone, and wit. However, after rewatching it, I noticed that it has the bones of certain TV and film genres. It definitely has many elements that would make it a great workplace sitcom. It’s set at the Quick Stop Groceries and most of the film’s comedy comes from the people who visit it and Dante (Brian O’Halloran) and Randal (Jeff Anderson). Characters like Jay (Jason Mewes) don’t technically work there but they would fit into the wacky employees' category, he is the Creed (Bratton, The Office), Woody (Harrelson, Cheers), and Ava (Janelle James, Abbott Elementary) character of this world.

Besides those types of characters, the movie has many classic sitcom archetypes, including the character who doesn’t care about social norms, the main protagonist whose slightly annoying, the love interest, and the sometimes pillar of wisdom. 

There are running gags throughout the movie, so it could easily have many of those if it was a workplace sitcom. It also has elements that would allow it to fit in the epic party movies genre, or "one crazy night" movies. 

However, instead of taking place during one single night, it takes place over one single day. This film falls into that category because most of those movies involve characters dealing with one crazy obstacle after another, either as they plan to attend an event, or just because it seems like the universe decides to hate them that day. This is what happens with Dante. The moment he agrees to go to work on his day off, he's involved in one crazy incident after another, including his ex-girlfriend having sex with a dead man, being banned from a funeral, and a lackluster hockey game. 

Brian O'Halloran and Jeff Anderson in Clerks

(Image credit: Miramax Films)

Clerks Shows That Movies That Are Mainly Driven By Dialogue And Monologues Can Be Great 

People love action movies, which is one reason why superhero films and the Fast and Furious movies are so popular. Usually, action and plot dominate most mainstream or popular films. It’s rare nowadays that dialogue is the star of a movie.

This classic reminds us that those movies can be just as great, perhaps even better, than movies that rely more on big fight sequences and convoluted plots. This isn’t a jab at those types of films, I love a good Marvel fight scene. I also love a movie where the plot twists make my mouth drop. However, there's room in the film world for more movies that focus on witty commentary about movies, life, relationships, and other things, to thrive. Give me more Clerks, Before Sunrise, and 12 Angry Men movies. 

Marilyn Ghigliotti and Brian O'Halloran in Clerks

(Image credit: Miramax Films)

This Movie Is Basically The Blueprint For Future Kevin Smith Movies 

As stated in the intro, I am a fan of Kevin Smith movies, so I could easily notice some elements from Clerks that make it into the films that follow. Besides the immortal Jay and Silent Bob, there is also a lot of dissecting of the fragile male ego that comes up again in one of my favorite of his movies, Chasing Amy

Heavy focus on dialogue and interesting pop culture commentary also makes its way into his other movies. This one also has frank conversations about sex and sexuality, which can also be seen in movies such as Zack and Miri Make a Porno. Like most filmmakers, as his first feature film, Clerks showcases many elements became commonplace in his other great movies.  

Betsy Broussard and Jeff Anderson in Clerks

(Image credit: Miramax Films)

The Customers Who Visit RST Video Must Be Desperate For Movies 

Randal must be one of the worst employees of all time. If I wanted to rent a movie and RST Video was the only option, I would simply never see a film. The harassment and lack of help would make me lose interest in movies. 

The only way I can see customers willingly going there is out of pure desperation. I pity the poor cinephile who only has RST Video as an option. I know those who live in Randal’s neighborhood wept happy tears when streaming services were invented. 

Scott Schiaffo and Brian O'Halloran in Clerks

(Image credit: Miramax Films)

Clerks Is Really Just The Timeless Battle Of Customers Vs Employees 

I believe in a few universal truths and one of them is that there is an unspoken war going on between many customers and the many employees who work in customer service.

Employees hate their customers and customers hate those employees. This film seems to confirm that universal truth. Randal and Dante really hate the customers and the hate seems to be mutual. It’s a classic lifetime feud that you'd expect in ancient times or between WWE legends.  

Jeff Anderson and Brian O'Halloran in Clerks

(Image credit: Miramax Films)

Dante And Randal Have Opposite Personalities, But The Same Issues 

Dante and Randal are both directionless, roaming through life. Neither of them are really thriving. However, one of them has accepted it and just goes with the flow, while the other is Dante. Randal knows his life isn’t some huge success, but he’s content enough with his situation to not spend all day complaining about it.

Dante hates his situation, but he is not brave enough to change it. He just complains without any real intention to better himself. Even Veronica (Marilyn Ghigliotti) tries to get him out of his funk and go back to school. However, he refuses to change.

Both represent two different perspectives on the same situation. Dante represents the people who are too afraid to take a chance, to seek better for themselves. Randal represents the side that’s okay with just taking every day as it comes. They don’t need to be the main character. They’re fine in a supporting role as long as it satisfies them enough.

Brian O'Halloran in Clerks

(Image credit: Miramax Films)

Other Thoughts 

Clerks is such a unique and fun movie that I couldn't help but also have a few other thoughts.

  • Not to be a bad feminist, but 37 partners is truly a lot, unless you have Only Fans or are a sex worker. Then that’s just business. 
  • I can’t explain it but there is something so cool about black and white films made after the 1960s.  
  • The Chewlies gum salesman may be my favorite part of the film. I respect a clever marketing strategy.  
  • Veronica and Caitlin (Lisa Spoonauer) could do better than Dante. 
  • Poor Sang. He can do better than Caitlin. 
  • It’s surprising that no one has made a Happy Scrappy Hero Pup movie yet.  
  • The conversation about the greatest Star Wars movies and the discussion on innocent contractors really should rank high in a list of greatest conversations about movies in a movie.  
  • Now I need to watch the other two Clerks films to complete the trilogy.  

Clerks is currently available to stream on Paramount+ (opens in new tab). Clerks 3 hits theaters on September 13, 2022.

Jerrica Tisdale
Freelance Writer

Spent most of my life in various parts of Illinois, including attending college in Evanston. I have been a life long lover of pop culture, especially television, turned that passion into writing about all things entertainment related. When I'm not writing about pop culture, I can be found channeling Gordon Ramsay by kicking people out the kitchen.