11th Oct2019

The Road to Reboot: ‘Clerks’ Review

by Chris Cummings

With Jay & Silent Bob Reboot set to begin it’s nationwide US roadshow tour this week, we thought we’d go back in time a little and check out the View Askew universe once again and review some of our favourite Kevin Smith films… First up, Clerks.

clerks-poster

I’ve been a Kevin Smith fan since I first discovered his films in the 90s. It was Dogma that introduced me into the View Askew-niverse and caused me to become a fan of his work from then-on. I would quickly go on to watch his prior movies, Chasing Amy, Mallrats and Clerks.

Clerks was Smith’s debut, a low-budget truly independent feature that he financed by maxing out his credit cards after dropping out of film college and trying his hand at filmmaking. Not a bad idea, when you look at things now. Clerks would become a cult classic and a majorly influential indie-film, a film that would breathe new life into the genre and show just how much you can do with great writing and creativity, a few credit cards and some friends and local actors who are willing to help you.

The story of Clerks is a loose one, it’s less of a complex film plot and more a flash-bang of life in a convenience store and a video rental shop in New Jersey. We spend our time with Dante (who wasn’t even meant to be there) and Randall, two disenfranchised workers who are irritable, frustrated, agitated and foul-mouthed. We see the people coming into the stores and the interactions they have with them. That’s basically what Clerks is. It’s a semi-biographical account of life as a low-tier employee with little-to-no influence or responsibility.

The dialogue is the main element of Clerks. Kevin Smith’s knack for writing interesting, human and funny dialogue shines right away and it would continue across many of his films, especially those in this universe. The conversations between the characters are both hilarious and relatable, whether they’re talking about Star Wars, salsa sharks or hockey. This would be the debut, also, of Jay and Silent Bob, the characters that would, themselves, become cult iconic in cinema, especially in the 90s and early 00s.

Kevin Smith managed to carve out a niche with Clerks and it would allow him to have a very successful career as a filmmaker, a writer and an actor. It all began here with this phenomenal, funny movie with its black and white visuals and its endlessly quotable lines. If you’ve ever seen Clerks then it’s not unlikely that you’ve uttered some of those lines at some point in your life afterwards. Maybe even 37 times… in a row.

Clerks is 25 years old this year. If you have never seen it, or it’s been a while, then I urge you to check it out. It ages gracefully, in its own graceless fashion.

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