Review by Kelly Grosskreutz
Director: Kevin Smith
Clerks is Kevin Smith's first film, and it shows. Financed by various credit cards, donations from family and friends, the profits made by selling his comic book collection, and any other way he could pick up a few books, it is truly a film made by an independent film maker.
Set in the Quick Stop convenience store in which he worked at the time, Clerks details one day in the life of a young man named Dante Hicks. Dante gets called into work at the Quick Stop on his day off, and he is not happy. His friend, Randal, ostensibly works at the video store next door, but seems to spend most of his time hanging out with Dante. Although Dante complains about this, since the video store is more or less closed, Dante still finds time to play a game of hockey, attend a funeral, and try to figure out his convoluted love life. When not doing all these other things, he also waits on some of the weirdest people in New Jersey.
I have to admit right away, this is not a movie for everyone. I actually hated it the first time I saw it. I thought it was slow, kind of dumb, and boring, with jokes and conversations that continuously delved into the sick and perverted area. To top it off, the movie was in black and white. As I said, it was a first film made on a shoestring budget.
I happened to rewatch it again about a year ago, however, and the second time around I thought it was just hilarious. It helped that I knew kind of what to expect. I didn't notice as much that it wasn't in color. I knew not to expect a lot of action. I was aware of the kinds of conversations, so was able to look past the "dick and fart joke" aspect to see that there really was something going on in this movie.
Here are two guys working a dead-end job. They are afraid to go out into the real world and see what life has to offer them. They are afraid to commit to anything, and this hampers their relationships with women. All of this is taking place in a wacky environment with the strangest, funniest things happening around them.
There are many scenes that stand out in my mind. The infamous argument between Dante and Veronica involving their past relationships with other people. Dante and Randal having a long and involved conversation about the builders who were hired to build the second Death Star in Return of the Jedi. The hockey game. Caitlin Bree's ultimate fate. And how can anyone forget Jay and Silent Bob?
For being background characters, Jay and Silent Bob excel at making themselves noticed. Your typical, friendly, neighborhood drug dealers, these two spend their day hanging out in front of the Quick Stop, plying their trade. These two rarely interact with Dante or Randal, but yet they are always there, always present, with Jay always ready to go on about some topic or another, although those topics are pretty limited. And then there's Silent Bob (played by Kevin Smith). Rarely speaking, he is still able to make sure his presence is not forgotten, which is no easy feat when one spends one's entire day hanging out with Jay. Their antics, although at times extremely crude and crass, are still funny. It's worth paying attention to them anyway, since they also show up in Kevin Smith's subsequent efforts (Mallrats, Chasing Amy, and Dogma).
When debating about what rating I should give it, I really didn't know. I finally settled on the Interceptor, mainly because I myself am somewhat mixed about it. I think it's hilarious, but this movie is not for everyone, and I can see where many people would hate it. I definitely would not recommend it for children, although I feel that most children would leave the room of their own accord. If you have worked a low-paying, dead end job, don't mind some "dick and fart" jokes, and are just looking for a good laugh without having any really high expectations about what this movie has to offer, this movie may be for you. If you're easily offended, I'd advise you to try a different movie.
Reviewed February 25, 2001 by Kelly M. Grosskreutz.