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At the age of 33, New Jersey mini-mart clerks and best friends Dante Hicks (BRIAN O’HALLORAN) and Randal Graves (JEFF ANDERSON) have it made they work with each other, slack off all day, and get paid for it. But when the local Quick Stop that has been their entire life and livelihood suffers a cataclysm, Dante and Randal have to do the unthinkable: find new minimum-wage jobs. Now, they¹re bringing their rapid-fire one-liners, bad attitudes and unbridled love of fun at the customer¹s expense to Mooby¹s burger joint, where the only other employees are an uber-nerd (TREVOR FERHMAN) and an entirely too sexy manager (ROSARIO DAWSON). But when Dante announces that he's going to leave Jersey forever and marry Emma Bunting (JENNIFER SCHWALBACH SMITH), his co-workers plan one last send-off that quickly goes awry. As unbridled debates rage over such burning matters as Return of the King v. Return of the Jedi; George Lucas v. Peter Jackson v. Jesus; and how far is too far in every area from teenage sex to "customer relations," Dante has to figure out an even bigger riddle: just how friendship, love, work and having a great time every single day can all come together in one humble adult existence.
After chickening out and buggering off from more challenging projects that might have stretched and challenged him as a filmmaker, Kevin Smith returns to the movie that made him famous in the first place by sequelizing it. I can't imagine a bigger give-up.
Smith was set to direct a movie version of The Green Hornet. He turned it down because, let's face it, he was afraid he couldn't handle the visual aspects of it. Smith was set to direct a new version of Fletch. He left the project, for reasons that are still unknown. It was Jersey Girl that killed his spirit. Kevin went out on the edge a bit with that one, for the first time really getting away from his Jay & Silent Bob crutch to try something new. It failed, flopped, was critically bashed and he has since turned turtle. Kevin Smith is no longer the bold, brash, in your face filmmaker of Clerks, he's a middle-aged guy scared to death of failure.
What do you do when you're scared? You stick with what you know, and apparently all Smith knows is dick and shit jokes. Expect a lot of them in the sequel to Clerks; a movie which by the way is a product of a specific time and probably should have been left alone. We don't need an update on these characters' lives, doing so makes this new movie little better than a Brady Bunch Reunion special. Smith has lost his nerve, and this is him waving a white flag.
So several people have emailed me to complain that my above comments somehow mean I don't think the movie will be any good. Quite the contrary. Kevin Smith knows this stuff, he's good at it, it's what made him famous. I have little doubt that Clerks II will work every bit as well as it can possibly work.
If you've seen any of the recent trailers for it, then you know it looks like he's got it right on target. I'm even looking forward to seeing it.
But however good it is, it's still a step back for Kevin. Maybe I'm just expecting too much from him. I love the guy, he's got amazing talent. In his place I'd probably make a million Clerks sequels as long as there was money to be squeezed out of them. I don't expect much from myself, I'm nothing. But Kevin… come on, who hasn't wanted to see him tackle a superhero movie? Broaden to become that BIG director everyone always hoped he'd become?
Clerks II is a signal that none of that will ever happen now. Kevin Smith fans now know what kind of director he is, and it's what he'll always be. Chasing Amy will probably always be his greatest, most complete film. He's a niche director and we'll have to be happy loving him for that. I plan to enjoy the heck out of Clerks II, and then say goodbye to a future in which Smith becomes the greatest director in the world. Hey, that's ok. I like dick and shit jokes.