a critiQal film review Clerks II (2006)

Plot: After a fire guts the convenience store they've been working at for 10 years, friends Dante (O'Halloran) and Randall (Anderson) have to go work at Mooby's, a soulless fast-food chain restaurant - and perpetual slackers/dealers Jay (Mewes) and Silent Bob (Smith) follow along right behind.

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  • ...a wacky and slightly disturbing conclusion to the Jay and Silent Bob film series.

Since my sister was up visiting last weekend, we didn’t get a chance to see a film in our Summer At The Movies 2006. It worked out perfectly, though, as I had no desire to see the only film to come out that weekend, You, Me And Dupree. Don’t get me wrong – it looks okay – but I’m waiting for the DVD for that one.

Because of this, we decided to cram 2 movies into the same week, as we are planning on seeing later this week. Today, however, it had to be new release Clerks II.

Since I have been a huge fan of the original Clerks (1994) for years, and we have both followed Kevin Smith’s adventures in directing since – although we skipped Jersey Girl – both of us were excited to see if Smith had enough funny material to make Dante, Randall, Jay and Silent Bob’s exploits in Clerks II worth watching.

In Clerks II, Brian O’Halloran and Jeff Anderson easily slip back into the roles they played to perfection in the original, Dante and Randall. This on-screen duo still is a perfect match, with Randall’s zaniness tempered by Dante’s seemingly endless supply of patience and rationality. These two have so immersed themselves in their characters, it’s almost impossible to picture them portraying anyone else.

The same can be said for the other dynamic duo in Clerks II, Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith as Jay and Silent Bob. With their immense popularity after appearing in all of Smith’s films (Clerks (1994), Chasing Amy, Mallrats, Dogma (1999) and of course Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back), these two are almost as important to the film as Dante and Randall.

Take either of the pair away, and it just wouldn’t be the same film. These four help the continuity of Clerks II as well, making the viewers more open and accepting of the newcomers to the series, the major one being Rosario Dawson. She does a great job of blending in with the returning cast members, and the audience will easily accept her into the fold.

But what’s a Kevin Smith film without special appearances? Thankfully, Kevin hasn’t forgotten those, so Jason Lee and Ben Affleck (sporting some rather funky facial hair) do pop in for a few moments. Even the computer guy from “Alias” (TV) makes an appearance in a hilarious sequence that compares Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977) to The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001).

The plot roughly follows along the lines of the first film. Most of Clerks II, just as in the first one, is spent slamming everything from customers to the store to films…and everything in-between – with the same hilarious results as the original. Then, the condemnation and complaining take a back seat as the real plot points of the movie reveal themselves – and Dante and Randall’s world is turned topsy-turvy for a little while.

In the original film, a death of a friend leads to commiserating and, eventually, a dead body. In Clerks II, Dante’s plans to move to Florida are interrupted by an attraction at work, and, eventually, the whole cast ends up watching a bizarre and disgusting sex show. See? Simple beginning, but things get crazy fast…and Kevin Smith manages to make the trip immensely entertaining.

Kevin Smith seems to have a gift for good dialogue that, while outrageous at times, is just plain funny – and never forced. In all of his movies (with the possible exception of Jersey Girl), he manages to make a huge range of subjects, from religion to lesbianism and racial slurs, funny. He also surprises the viewer, as he uses all this humor to mask the plot he’s sneaking in, until he springs it on an unsuspecting viewer. He’s managed to do this so many times it’s almost expected now…and Clerks II doesn’t disappoint.

While some have worried about Kevin Smith could “sell-out” and make a sequel to Clerks (1994), Clerks II will shut them up, as it totally compliments the original film. The cast never acts out of character, and the story works out to be a rather logical continuation of the original film.

Clerks II is so well done, it seems that Kevin had this sequel in his mind right from the start – and it seems a fitting conclusion to the series of films that Jay and Silent Bob have shown up in. If you are a fan of the original, you should go check this one out today. You won’t be disappointed.

The biggest question, after the success this film most likely will become, is obvious: Will Hollywood convince Smith to go for round three, or will he stick to his guns and keep Clerks II as his final Jay and Silent Bob film? Guess we’ll have to wait and see.

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