A Worthy Follow-Up, Despite the Non-Indie Feel to It
Andrew | Chicago, IL, USA | 07/22/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The original Clerks is a landmark movie; made on a budget of $28,000, it became a huge cult hit and began the "Askewniverse", the film and comic book world populated by characters like Jay (Jason Mewes), Silent Bob (Kevin Smith), and the Hicks family (all played by Brian O'Halloran). While Clerks II is the first direct sequel to any Askewniverse film, it, like all the others, has certain elements that have writer/director Kevin Smith's fingerprints all over it. The story starts 10 years after the end of Clerks. Dante Hicks (O'Halloran) and Randal Graves (Jeff Anderson) still work at the Quick Stop and RST Video stores, respectively, despite the fact that they are now in their 30's. As the movie opens, Dante opens the shutters to see that the building is on fire due to Randal's negligence. For the next year, the two of them work at Mooby's, a fast food restaurant. Though their setting has changed, they are still clerks. They still have to put up with annoying customers, but now they have to make food as well. They also have coworkers to put up with, notably Elias (Trevor Fehrman) a 19-year-old who still kisses his mother goodbye everyday when she drops him off. He and Randal are usally arguing about who grew up with better pop culture, with Randal backing Star Wars and Elias championing Lord of the Rings and Transformers. We also meet their boss in this movie (in the original Clerks, we never met their superior and only knew him as "The Boss"). Becky (Rosario Dawson) is a cool and very tolerant (in Randal's case) manager who likes hanging out with Dante while Randal and Elias work. Jay and Silent Bob are also still in the lives of Dante and Randal. Since the Quick Stop burned down, they had to find a new place to hang out in front of, and they chose Mooby's. They are still drug dealers, but now they themselves are clean. The majority of the film takes place on Dante's last day of work. He is leaving New Jersey forever with his fiancee Emma (Jennifer Schwalbach Smith, Kevin Smith's real-life wife) the following day, much to Randal's disappointment. Randal doesn't like Emma very much, and the feeling is mutual, and Dante himself seems to prefer Becky. He seems a lot more relaxed and happy around her than with Emma, who was a jerk to him in high school (though more on this subject later). Clerks II has many callbacks to the first and has all of Smith's trademarks, but it is definitely its own movie. In both this and the original, we see Dante's morning routine for opening the store, he paints a girl's toenails in each film, Dante does something on the roof, Dante is caught between two girls, and there are some others that I don't want to spoil. Jason Lee and Ben Affleck both make appearances, who have appeared in every Smith film since Mallrats (the movie after Clerks). This film, according to Kevin Smith, is the last film of the Askewniverse (though that's what he said about Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back), and it serves to tie up most of the loose ends (as Smith calls it, it is an epilogue of the Askewniverse). This is definitely a film that merits repeat viewings. On top of being laugh-out-loud hilarious, it is so good that you will most likely miss parts of the dialogue due to the audience laughing so hard. I would see it now, then wait a few weeks when the crowds have thinned out, then go see it again. This film was made for only $5,000,000, which is small by Hollywood standards, but is 185 times greater than the budget for the first film. It is my opinion that Smith tried to do a lot of things that he could not have done in the first movie. Dante and Randal leave the restaurant to go somewhere, but this time, we actually see where they go (in Clerks, they went to a funeral, but we didn't see what went on because it would have been too expensive to hire extras and rent another location). There is also a hilarious dance sequence where Dante and Becky are dancing on the roof while other people in the film start dancing in their various places (and Randal "wrangles" across the counter), and the shots of Dante and Randal in their car are not shot from the back seat. The one problem I had with this film is the love story. I don't think it was terrible, but it seemed a little trite for a Kevin Smith movie. It was very straightforward; the minute that Becky even hinted at her feelings for Dante, we knew that these two were meant for each other. In the first Clerks, thing were more ambigous about which girl Dante should go for. Still, when it wasn't being cheesy, it provided for some laughs. This part isn't so much a problem as an observation. Clerks II definitely does not feel like an indie film. I guess that's natural, because if you have $5,000,000 to make a film that will be inexpensive, you might as well go the whole nine yards. Also, and this is a very convoluted analysis (and is probably over-analysis), but one of the things Kevin Smith said is that this is a film about being in your 30's while the first was about being in one's 20's. Maybe the indie film has a closer connection with one's 20's (you are young, just starting off in your life as an adult, can't afford much), but once you get to your 30's, things are more mainstream and you can achieve just a little more if you try. In summation, Clerks II is a great movie, definitely one of the funniest I've seen since The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Be warned that it is extremely vulgar (Smith was afraid of getting an NC-17 rating despite no violence or nudity), so don't bring the kids or easily upset friends. But with Kevin Smith, you really can't expect anything else."
The journey comes to an end.
Raul Duke | Pittsburgh | 09/13/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The final chapter of the "New Jersey Chronicles" is am almost satisfying ending to a series of films extending about 15 years.
its more than 10 years after the events of clerks. Dante and Randall's situation hasnt improved much. they're still working basically the same jobs. in the opening scene the quick stop pretty much burns down. the rest of the movie after that takes place at Mooby's fast food place, Dante and Randall's other job.
ive always found Dante to be a kind of bland character, just like TC in Mallrats, but they both have that outrageous sidekick (randall) so it balances out well.
Clerks 2 carries the torch of the original perfectly, with classic characters and always entertaining strings of dialogue. the movie has a satisfying ending which properly brings closure to the chronicles. i wish Kevin would keep it up though. even after all these years, these characters havent played themselves out at all, even if their own creator thinks thats the case. Kevin Smith is arguably my favorite writer/director, so im kind of biased, but all of his work that ive seen couldnt be any better in my opinion.
like most DVD's Kevin Smith puts out, this has the special features to keep anybody busy for a while, including an hour and a half long documentary on the making of Clerks 2."
Kevin Smith get the HD-DVD treatment he deserves
Alexander Zaloudek | Australia | 01/31/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Well, I know Clerks II doesn't come to mind when wanting to show off HiDef Picture and Sound quality, Clerks II still looks damn fine in HD, and will impress any fan.
Clerks II is presented in the MPEG-4 AVC codec, and holds up nicely against VC-1. Many reviewers have complained about the hot overblown contrast of the cinematography, but to tell you the truth, it never bothers me as I think it feels more real. Considering most of the film is set inside a fast food resturant in the middle of the day, you'd expect that.
Film Grain is evident but never really distracts, as it just adds to the low-budget nature of the film. Clarity and sharpness are top-notch and is never an issue, and detail always manages to hit it's mark. There is some slight digital grain on BG walls and floors, but overall not a bad transfer.
Sound wise, Clerks II HD-DVD fairs up as you could imagine for a dialogue driven film. Dialogue is always clear from the front speakers, yet the surrounds and LFE are rarely used. It does it's job, and the HD-DVD comes with a bonus Dolby Digital TrueHD track (which is not displayed on the back cover).
Like it's DVD cousin, this HD-DVD gets all the bells and whistles of special features, but THIS TIME round, they're displayed in 1080i HD glory. Ok, it's not everything, but it's nice to see the behind the scenes in all their glory. The docos are very funny and entertaining (as you'd expect from Kevin Smith), and the 3 audio commentaries will not dissapoint any fan.
I am a HUGE fan of Kevin Smith, and in my opinion Clerks II is his strongest film to date. It's hilarious, laugh-out-loud gross yet heart felt at times.
Call me insane, but Clerks II was one of the main reasons I chose HD-DVD over Blu-ray. It's a gem of a movie that any fan should be without in there HD-DVD collection.
"I like Kevin Smith movies..I love an evening with Kevin Smith one (see my review) and two (evening harder). So this film is a NO-Brainer
Smith's sequel to his classic film Clerks is more of a contining story ten years hence. Dante & Randal have now become employees of Mooby's (Smith's version of McDonalds) after their former clerk job burned up in a fire, because Randal left the coffee pot on.
Smith has made this a coming of age story for the Dante character, making this the few days in New Jersey and moving with his girlfriend (played by Smith's wife Jennifer Schwalbach). Rosario Dawson is under used as the Mooby's sexy but sweet manager.
There are cameos by Ben Affleck and Jason Lee (who took moments from their busy film and TV careers)...but there is NO GEORGE CARLIN (Boo-Hiss) in this movie. The Jay and Silent Bob characters make too short appearances in this film, but when they are on screen-it is worth it!
If you like Clerks, Mallrats, or Chasing Amy, this bittersweet comedy is great. If you are seeking another Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back, it one has more heart. However, as good as this is-IT aint no DOGMA!
Bennet Pomerantz AUDIOWORLD"
"Uh, that guy's being awfully forward with that donkey."
H. Bala | Carson - hey, we have an IKEA store! - CA USA | 12/26/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"SPOILERS alert here. Also, I have to say this upfront: I actually liked JERSEY GIRL, so take this review for whatever you think it's worth.
No worries, fans of CLERKS. Kevin Smith didn't eff it up. With CLERKS 2, our trousers-challenged maverick writer/director crafts an admirable and wickedly funny sequel to his 1994 indie, black and white cult hit. Once again, Smith creates a rallying film for the disenfranchised and the disinclined. And he brings his usual bag of tricks: the bawdy humor, the character-driven interplays, the pop culture indulgences, and the beloved characters.
Here's the plot: It's been a decade since we last met up with Dante Hicks (Brian O'Halloran) and Randal Graves (Jeff Anderson), who had been whiling their dead end lives away in a convenience store and a video shop. Well, CLERKS 2 finds the Quick Stop burnt down due to a coffee machine mishap and the hapless duo now toiling at the haphazardly frequented fast food joint Mooby's. At first glance, not much has really changed. With the lack of steady customers, the duo still finds plenty of time to goof around and mouth off. Now in their thirties, Randal is still as abrasive as ever, but Dante seems to have finally decided to get his life into gear. This is his last day working at Moody's. Tomorrow, he's driving out of Jersey with his cute fiancee Emma (Jennifer Schwalbach Smith, the director's wife) and moving to Florida, where he's promised a job by her pops and even a house by her moms. He's pretty much made up his mind, though certain doubts linger. His best buddy Randal thinks he's taking the easy way out, a sentiment echoed by Becky (the easy-on-the-eyes Rosario Dawson), their sexy and cool supervisor at Moody's, who herself doesn't buy into romantic love. But Dante is determined to go. What he doesn't know is that this day has some life altering surprises in store for him. There, so much for the plot.
First of all, Kevin Smith's great strength is his ear for dialogue. Folks have already made mention of Smith's directing skills, or, rather, how little they've progressed ever since the first CLERKS. I happen to think he's a pretty decent filmmaker, but, I really believe the field in which he truly excels is writing. And I'm not talking about flowery diction and high-faluting prose. I'm talking about words from the gut, the real-life crap that people say or want to say as they go thru their day to day existence. CLERKS 2 revels in its playful but obscene riffs as much as it does in its theme of slackerhood and its tendencies for pop culture references. Whether the topic is sexual etiquette, the superiority of one cinematic trilogy over another, or the sensitive issue of standing still as life passes one by, Smith's words, as spoken by the film characters, are honest, sometimes vulgarly honest.
The humor in this film made me howl. It's not drawing board wit, no. The comedy is vintage CLERKS, ranging from scatological, to sexual, to racial, to just plain juvenile. Off the top of my head, the scenes where I laughed the longest and loudest are the LORD OF THE RINGS versus the STAR WARS trilogy debate, the "porch monkey" bit, and the donkey scene (or to quote the Sexy Stud: "interspecies erotica").
I have to say that Rosario Dawson helps greatly to elevate this movie from being merely an exercise in incessant hanging out and talking trash. She is sunny, winning, beautiful, and is a natural actress. You might wonder initially what draws her to a frumpy looking guy like Dante, but it's her attraction to such a normal guy - and even kind of a loser - that makes the movie work even better for me. Her Becky exudes such a level-headed yet whimsical personality that I thought, yes, she could actually fall for this numbnut, bless her heart. Their relationship nicely depicts how a good friendship could, in time, transform into something more. From the special features, I found out that Bryce Howard, Sarah Silverman, and Liv Tyler were wooed for the part of Becky. Frankly, I now find it hard to picture anyone but Dawson in that role, though I'm sure Liv wouldn't have been too shabby.
Brian O'Halloran as the quietly harried Dante is again effective here, but it is Jeff Anderson who shines brighter as the rude, crude, and irresponsible Randal. His moments with Dante while they were incarcerated near the movie's end are searingly real, raw, and heartfelt. And to think that Anderson, at first, had to be talked into doing this sequel. Jennifer Schwalbach Smith, in the thankless role of Emma, Dante's fiancee, manages to pull off a nice performance in her few scenes. Trevor Fehrman as the 19 year old, Lord of the Rings and Transformers fanatic, Elias, is a bit over the top, but funny enough (his Pillowpants bit is giggly funny). Meanwhile, Jason Mewes as Jay and the director himself as Silent Bob are back after spending six months in rehab (the characters, not the actors, though Mewes did have his drug problems) and remain amusing, as ever. It's nice to know that, though they continue to ply their drug dealing trade, they've at least found Our Savior, Jesus Christ. Cameos are also made by Smith regulars Ben Affleck and Jason Lee, and even Wanda Sykes pops in for a while, but not long enough to hurt the film.
The bonus features (of over six hours, as boasted on the dvd cover): disc one includes three film commentaries (the best one is the second commentary selection, which offers Smith and most of the cast), plenty of deleted scenes, and "A Closer Look at Interspecies Erotica"; disc two has the engrossing hour and a half long behind-the scenes-look "Back to the Well: Clerks 2," an extended blooper reel (which is mostly bland, excepting those takes with Rosario - yep, she got to me), and "Trains Wrecks: Video Production Diaries" (including Jason Lee's "The Tongue Song"). Most of the special features come with the option of an intro by Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier.
This flick is low brow, vulgar to the extreme and, certainly, gasp inducing. But CLERKS 2 also has plenty of heart and, surprisingly, several sweet moments, which surface when you least expect it. Kevin Smith made this film as a fond salute to the slacker generation who adored the first CLERKS and also as an homage to his younger, more unsure self who was just starting out and who believed back then that more things seemed possible to achieve. CLERKS 2 is a movie about a day in the life of several ordinary folks, whose copious downtime, on the surface, is filled with nonsensical junk. But, when you get right down to it, these seemingly throwaway moments depict and define their lives, and, as such, they prove to be very real. I'm personally giving this one 5 stars, but, remember, I also liked JERSEY GIRL. "