7 July 1999 | baumer
An honest and humorous film
If you have seen American Pie and think of it as being honest and real about sex and the way kids talk, then Clerks is right up your alley. I don't think a movie has pleasantly shocked me more than this one has. And make no mistake about it, this is one of the funniest movies I've ever seen.
By now we've all heard the story of how Kevin Smith somehow scrounged up $27000 to piece this rag tag film together. It was at a film festival and some film executive saw it and offered him a generous amount of money. They fixed it up and before you know it we have the best indie film ever made. Kevin Smith is now a recognizable name in Hollywood and that alone should make you want to see this film.
Dante and Randal are best friends. They work at a small convenience store and a crappy little video store respectively. As a matter a fact, the video store is so inept that Randall actually goes to one of the bigger video stores in town to rent his movies. Anyway, Dante is obsessed with his ex-girlfriend that cheated on him and he has a present girlfriend that is wonderful to him. That is the basic premise for the movie. And that is all you need to know about the plot. Because what the film is really about is how these characters really talk to each other. It is a bunch of clever anecdotes pieced together hilariously to form a movie. But some of the scenes are just so damn funny that Clerks stays with you for a long long time.
Take for instance a scene where Dante and his girlfriend are discussing the various responsibilities of a man and a woman in sex. Each has an obvious gender biased view of the act but listen to how honest it is written, it gives meaning and much hilarity to the scene. From here, the two end up discussing how many people the other has slept with. And we all know that is an absolute no no in relationships. Because no matter how many or how little the number is, it is too much. But that would be too easy for Smith to end it at that. No, he takes it a step further. From here Veronica ( the girlfriend ) explains that she has only slept with X amount of guys but she has gone down on 36 others. Dante is mortified. How can she do that? And she explains that when she "does it" it means more than when she goes down and that is supposed to make him feel better. It of course doesn't and the pay off in the scene is brilliant as Veronica is walking back to her car. And that is just one of the scenes that makes the film work. There are dozens of other scenes similar in nature that are so humourous yet painfully honest that you laugh but when the giggles subside, you realize that it is so true.
The obvious strength of this film is the writing. But beyond that, Smith establishes himself as a director that can get a performance out of his actors. Almost every major character in here is so well done that you think they had 20 attempts to get it perfect instead of the 3 or 4 that the budget would allow. Dante is well played by O'Halloran but it is Anderson as Randle that I think steels the picture. He is so honest and natural in every scene that he is in that it actually bothers me that he has not established himself in the game. Is it because no one wants to give him a role or is it that he has no interest in movies? I don't know, I just wish he was around again because he is electric.
Jay and Silent Bob are funny as well and Bob provides the film with one of the funnier moments as he dances out of nowhere and then he shocks us with his only line of the film. And what he says may as well be Socrates talking and not a simple street hood. It really works.
I love Clerks. It is such a fun movie and if you haven't seen this gem, check it out. Like it for the funny film that it is, but love it for whats behind it.
This film has heart. And Smith is an inspiration to anyone that wants to do what he did. After all, he proves that nothing is impossible. He is living proof of that.