Kevin Smith's Clerks Review
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I Assure You, We're Open! A Look Back At Kevin Smith's "Clerks"

A more in-depth review of the cult-classic "Clerks," the film that started writer/director Kevin Smith's career.

I Assure You, We're Open! A Look Back At Kevin Smith's "Clerks"

Recently, I had written an article that briefly detailed the View Askewniverse. However, I felt that I should go into each film more thoroughly, especially after watching "Clerks" again. The speech given at the climax of the film really rings true for me. As mentioned, I work at a beer distributor and I am essentially a clerk.

At this point, the film says many of the things I think about, worry about, and feel at this current stage in relation to my work and life. And since I really love these movies (with the exception of "Mallrats," which isn't that good, especially in comparison to "Clerks" or "Chasing Amy," of the three which make up "The New Jersey Trilogy") I thought it was worth going back and discussing.

I'm recycling a joke here, but 1994 was a good year for two reasons; to begin, this guy, the one with the awesome curly locks righting this article was born, and in my humble opinion, at a close second it was the year of Kevin Smith's debut film. Despite being a cult classic that in a way vocalizes the cries of clerks everywhere, it more importantly introduced Jay and Silent Bob and the phrase "Snoochie Boochies" to the world.

Quick Stop Groceries

The film "Clerks" is a simple story, that speaks to a lot of truths; something that Kevin Smith is incredibly gifted at. The dialogue is quick, witty, and doused in obscenities, but it gets to the heart of things we've all felt, over-thought and obsessed over.

Despite its constant barrage of humor, "Clerks" tackles ideas about loyalty, the mundanity of the day-to-day, insecurity in one's relationships, and taking responsibility for one's own shortcomings. Leading us through these various topics are the duo Dante Hicks and Randal Graves, two polar opposites in their views on life, yet both of whom are stuck in the same rut; working in Quick Stop Groceries and RST Video respectively.

Randal and Dante

Dante Hicks, and his constant utterance of his famous phrase "I'm not even supposed to be here today!" leads us in this underdog story. At the Quick Stop, he is forced to face annoying customers, insecurities about his current girlfriend's sexual past and his lingering feelings for his ex-girlfriend. Most importantly, he has to deal with Randal, who constantly acts as a bad influence, trying to shake him out of his depression.

That's all in terms of a synopsis. The acting is not great, and the directing is off. But there is a real chemistry between Dante and Randal, and the dialogue is something that has never been a weak point for Smith. And that makes up for the film's flaws in other areas. But I don't want to give more about the film because I want to talk about the importance of the themes it addresses and how it relates to the audience; the clerks.

Jay and Silent Bob

There are several points in the film where Dante is more or less lectured, and during those scenes he looks at those yelling at him as if he is, in fact, a child being reprimanded and lectured. That's how I felt watching "Clerks." It made me question the issues I currently have with my lot in life.

There are several points in the film where Dante is more or less lectured, and during those scenes he looks at those yelling at him as if he is, in fact, a child being reprimanded and lectured. That's how I felt watching "Clerks." It made me question the issues I currently have with my lot in life.

Like Dante, I almost feel burdened by the day-to-day routine of things. It's not like it's anything challenging or hard, but something just doesn't sit well for me. It's like I see all of my potential and my future hanging there on a pendulum, and it can go either way. And like so many, I'm not sure how to get to the next step, and that brings about this feeling of being trapped. That's where Dante is in the film. Not only that, I am the same age as these characters; I understand the pain that Dante feels, and I understand the truth that Randal professes.

Randal's View

The truth, as Randal yells in his final speech, is that I can change it; I just need to do something. When I re-watched the movie, that speech stuck with me. I'm judgmental and angry all the time (like most young adults). But who the hell am I to be as such?

The whole movie follows Dante as he complains about everything, and you might not agree with all of his ideas, but you understand where he's coming from. It's not like the character is a carbon copy of where I am in life, but as I watched the movie, I kept thinking "that's how I feel; that's the same rut I'm stuck in."

But then with Randal's speech, the whole film gets thrown on its head. He's a slacker, who seems completely content. But he reveals some of his own insecurities in his life, but he accepts them, rather than let them eat away at him. His advice isn't to give up; accept your lot if that's what you want, or change if you want to change.

The other major theme to focus on is insecurities with relationships. However, "Clerks" only scratches the surface of this, whereas "Chasing Amy" utilizes it as its main focus. As Smith says on "In 'Clerks,' Dante freaks over the fact that his girlfriend has had sex with 37 guys. I thought that his obsession, that basic insecurity was worth exploring in greater depth with more mature characters [in 'Chasing Amy']." And thus, that theme will be looked at more when I write a review for that film.

Waiting for what's next is a scary place to be at times, and Smith's comedic storytelling helps to open the viewer's eyes to their own standings. It dives deeper, however, revealing that the only person in charge of which road to choose from the crossroads, is us, the clerks. And remember, "just because we serve you, it doesn't mean we like you."

Silent Bob's Words of Wisdom

But the most important thing "Clerks" offers, is not a coming of age story about the mundane spiral life takes us in, nor the five sequels already made or the sixth sequel that is currently in the works. It's the classic debate about the contractors helping to rebuild the Death Star in "Return of the Jedi" whom the rebels had no care for when destroying it once more.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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