In 1994, Kevin Smith treated the world to a pack of cigarettes and a few bars of "Berserker," not knowing then that the mega-low-budget film in question — his cult phenomenon Clerks. — would transcend into a longstanding film career. Not only would Clerks. kick off Smith's string of tenuously connected View Askewniverse movies, it would come to earn two direct sequels: Clerks II, which released in 2006, and the forthcoming Clerks III, on which Smith has just begun working, as the writer/director announced on Facebook, accompanying the following image:
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"THE BEGINNING OF THE END," Smith writes alongside the image of the script. "20 years ago today, we started shooting CLERKS. 20 years later, with no plan or provocation, I jumped out of bed at 4:20 this morning and started writing CLERKS III.It's been like hanging out with old friends. And after 2 hours of tapping the keys and giggling, I have come to a conclusion... CLERKS III will be the best film I'll ever make."
Quite the proclamation.
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In Clerks., Smith introduced Dante (Brian O'Halloran), a self-loathing sad sack with an odd proclivity for earning the eyes of women far more ambitious than he, and Randal (Jeff Anderson), his acerbic, misanthropic, but eternally devoted best friend, not to mention omnipresent clowns Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Smith himself), revisiting the lot 12 years later to see where their adult lives have taken them. Now plucking away at their 40s, the lot will return for a third chapter, suggesting more poetic waxing and comic book conversations for the devoted fan base.
But where are the characters now? Are they still working at Quick Stop? Is Dante still married to Rosario Dawson? Have Jay and Silent Bob stayed clean? What do you think will (and should) happen in Clerks III?
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[Photo Credit: Miramax]
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When we left our favorite misanthropic antiheroes Dante (Brian O'Halloran) and Randal (Jeff Anderson) in 1994 we had a feeling they’d be disgruntled clerks well into the new millennium. Sure enough our 12-year reunion finds them still slacking off in the same Jersey town--only they’re now “working” at fast-food joint Mooby’s after a fire burnt down the Quick Stop; sidewalk stalkers Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (writer/director Kevin Smith) have also been forced to take their acts to Mooby’s. Now in their thirties and miserable as ever Dante and Randal still profanely voice their discontent in front of their easygoing boss lady (Rosario Dawson) virgin coworker (Trevor Fehrman) and unsuspecting patrons but at least one of them is planning to finally grow up: Dante is set to move with his fiancé Becky (played by Smith’s real wife Jennifer Schwalbach) to Florida in hopes of starting a new life much to Randal’s objection.
Clerks II truly has the feel of a reunion: We haven’t seen our good buddies O'Halloran and Anderson in a dozen years and we’re curious what they’ll look like etc. because save for a few minor roles they’ve been M.I.A. ever since! They look older but they still trade vulgarities with the best of ‘em--with Anderson’s Randal typically doling out the insults and O'Halloran’s Dante whining about them--and possess acting chops making it a wonder we haven’t seen the two much since ’94. Mewes’ Jay in the sequel is based at least loosely on the actor’s own off-screen “arc ” which has seen drug addiction and current sobriety. Mewes’ scenes are again the film’s best and while some will complain of not enough screen time that’s actually the best restraint exhibited by Smith. Newcomer Dawson makes for an odd addition to the odd couple but she more than holds her own with their obscene sex ponderings and more importantly plays down her looks enough to pull it off. The first Clerks was considered a seminal offbeat masterpiece and writer/director Smith along with Richard Linklater and others was branded a forefather of ‘90s indie. However since then Smith has failed to produce a single box-office hit and here we find him reverting to his ol’ reliable seemingly a stab at career revival. The film is both hit-and-miss and as a whole hit-or-miss but therein lies the essence of Kevin Smith for which we’ve longed since his heyday. While he clearly makes some concessions for the bigger-budgeted sequel—-Smith occasionally tries to please the crowd the film is in color etc.--his observations on everything from Lord of the Rings geekdom to taboo sex moves are again liberated and anyone with an open if filthy mind will eat it up. And refreshingly Smith seems at peace with the fact that even if this sequel had been flawless it couldn’t have possibly satisfied his original cult fans many of whom are now also in their thirties and will enjoy the odd sweetness of Smith’s take on growing up.