6 June 2006 | Kuildeous
Young listless punks grow up to be 30-something listless punks
I had reservations about a sequel to the cult classic, Clerks. The charm of the first movie was how Kevin Smith relied on convoluted dialogue and effervescent characters to launch the movie. I was not confident that he could return to those roots after 12 years of success under his belt.
Fortunately, this movie does not disappoint. Smith's trademark witty dialogue is ubiquitous as ever. The characters argue and rant about meaningless topics with the same intensity as family members faced with the decision to pull the plug. O'Halloran continues to portray Dante as the hapless slacker who simultaneously makes us feel sorry for him and urges us to smack him for not doing anything about his circumstances. The latter feeling is embodied by Anderson, who plays the irresponsible malcontent, Randall. Fans of the first Clerks movie will be amused by their continued antics. One of the new characters is Becky, played by Rosario Dawson. Dawson performs admirably, making us fall in love with the free spirit who took a wrong turn in life and ended up managing a Mooby's restaurant. Becky provides a refreshing contrast to the stodgy and suffocating Emma, played by Mrs. Smith. Emma appears a bit too one-dimensional, but her purpose as Dante's fiancée is clearly to show yet another disappointing facet of Dante's life. Another new character is Elias, played by Trevor Fehrman. Elias's role is a bit over-the-top as the hobbit-obsessed geek whose life is enriched by the promise of a live-action Transformers movie. The flaw is that Elias is too repressed and weird and cannot garner much sympathy from the audience. This might be Smith's intent, as we enjoy a little schadenfreude every time Randall torments him.
The story is fairly basic and picks up where the first movie leaves off. Dante and Randall seamlessly move from the end of Clerks to the beginning of Clerks II. This may seem sad, since they are now 30-somethings working as clerks, and that is intentional. The sequel shifts the focus from young clerks trying to determine what to do with their lives to clerks approaching middle age trying to figure out why they're still in their dead-end jobs. The story of Dante whining about his life and Randall putting him in his place is rehashed from the first movie, but with a sudden afflatus, Dante is finally able to do something about it.
The humor is still strong with Kevin Smith, as he throws ridiculous sight gags at us in between the labyrinthine dialogue about Transformers, Star Wars, racial slurs, blogs, and life in general. Fans of Kevin Smith naturally will enjoy this movie and do not need to fear that he has "sold out." It's hard to say if newcomers will enjoy the movie. If they are into the humor of the movie, then they logically should already be aware of the first Clerks, as well as Dogma and Chasing Amy. I can only suggest for the moviegoer who is unaware of Kevin Smith's credentials to go rent Clerks. If the story bores you, then Clerks II probably won't appeal to you, though there are more sight gags that may appeal to some audiences. Those who are easily offended are also urged to stay away, as this movie contains scenes of profanity, bodily fluids, and (for most people) sexual deviance.
All in all, it is a solid movie. It has a few pacing problems (or did at the screening) but nothing that negatively impacts the movie. Some scenes are utterly ridiculous, but it is par for the course for this type of movie.