Monday, January 17, 2011

Clerks (1994)

Adulthood can be very tough.  We all are forced with many challenges and decisions that can largely affect the rest of our lives.  Having a job is one of the most important priorities in adult life that usually begins during the teen years.  Jobs, they can have their ups and their downs. For every good paycheck at the end of the week, there's always that occasional annoying as fuck customer or a jackass of a boss that really makes you want to speak your mind. But, if you did that then you would be fired.  Nobody wants to deal with assholes or go in to work on their day off, but sometimes we have to do things that we don't want to do.  Most of us wish that we could get away from it all. In Kevin Smith's hit comedy CLERKS,  we learn that even the little things in life can be just as important as the big things and may even surpass it. Because let's face it, when you got your best friend, your girlfriend, your ex girlfriend, some annoying customers that you can fuck with, and a decent paying job that you're good at,  then you're much luckier than you give yourself credit for.
Dante Hicks works at a little convenience store in New Jersey called Quick Stop Groceries. He's called into work on his day off since his boss is out of town.  Dante's best friend Randal Graves stops in everyday to talk pop culture trivia and whatever the fuck is going on in their lives.  Randal works at the shitty video store around the corner and occasionally works at the Quick Stop with his buddy.   While Dante just wants to do his job and get out of there, Randal likes to talk shit and piss off the customers.  Meanwhile, Dante's current girlfriend Veronica wants him to go to her college and complete his education so that he can get a better paying career. It turns out that Dante may still have feelings for his old high school girlfriend Caitlin, who ironically comes back to town to "see" him. And then there's those two stoner dudes hanging outside the store named Jay and Silentbob selling pot. Yup, it's your typical day at the Quick Stop.  Okay, enough with this plot shit, on to the fucking review!
I will say it now, CLERKS is a great comedy.  Not only is it a great comedy, but it's also a great character piece and very easy to relate to. The fact that I can usually relate to most of Kevin Smith's movies is the biggest reason why I love them.  Name any of the man's movies and I'm sure that I can pull something out of it that is part of myself and I'm sure many who watch Smith's films can do the same.  Kevin Smith is truly a great screenwriter, especially in his early days such as CLERKS and the beginning of the View Askew series.  I just love how Smith brings his love of movies and comic books into his work. Being a MAJOR movie and comic book fan myself, I laugh hysterically when one of Smith's characters brings up a reference to Batman, STAR WARS, SPIDER-MAN, and so on. 
   The dialogue in a Kevin Smith film is known to be movie/comic book trivia, sexually perverted, sarcastic, and very darkly humorous. I usually am not a fan of the dick and fart kinda humor, but Smith really knows how to make that shit work, even in his less acclaimed films.   CLERKS works so well I believe because it deals with something that every young adult has to go through sometime, the work life.  Lots of us have dealt with rude customers and wish that we could act like Randal and tell them to fuck off.  If you have a hard day at work whether your boss is being a dick or the customers you unfortunately have to face are pushing you to the limit then CLERKS is a nice way to deal with your anguish of the day. Just get home, light up a cigarette, pop open a beer, and watch Dante and Randal show you how to deal with these fuckers in the View Askew Universe.  As far as characters go, Dante and Randal are definitely Smith's best characters aside from obviously Jay and Silentbob.  These are two guys that I could listen to all day. All of their conversations are entertaining and enjoyable to listen to.  Usually when characters are too chatty in movies, it can get a little boring, but Smith could have an entire film with these two guys talking away and I would be just as entertained as watching Batman interrogate The Joker.  Needless to say, I loved Kevin Smith's screenplay for CLERKS.
    The characters are just fantastic. We have Dante who's  the careful character. He's always polite to people, let's people push him around, is whipped by his girlfriend, and complains about having to come into work on his day off. And then there is Randal who speaks his mind, gets Dante into crazy situations, is lazy, and loves to piss off the customers.  This guy is just fucking awesome. Life would never be boring as long as Randal Graves is your best buddy. I actually had a friend like Randal growing up who would always get me into some kind of adventure.  I can definitely relate to Dante though. I have known to be a little too careful and have held myself back because I didn't have a lot of confidence. That's why these two are so perfect, because they balance each other out.  We've seen friendships like this tons of times in both movies and television. It seems that the more careful guy/girl matches up with the more wild guy/girl. Cory Matthews and Shawn Hunter. DJ Tanner and Kimmy Gibbler. Zack Morris and Screech Powers. Mark Ratner and Mike Damone. These match ups always seem to work with best friends. Sure, they may have their ups and downs, but what friendship hasn't?
The situations that Dante and Randal get themselves into are pretty hilarious. Dante and his girlfriend Veronica have a heated argument over her sucking 37 dicks, including his. The boys go to a funeral for an old high school friend and Randal knocks the casket over, causing the body to fall out and lots of angry attendees chasing them. Randal accidentally sells a four year old girl cigarettes while he reads his porno magazine and Dante is left with the fine.  Some old guy masterbates himself to death in the bathroom, leaving Dante's old girlfriend Caitlin in catatonia.  Randal spits water in some customer's face. And my personal favorite, Randal offends a customer by talking dirty and then shows him a picture of a chick's vagina, causing the guy to run screaming.  There's some more too, but you'll just have to watch to see.
   Jay and Silentbob just hang out in front of the store, listen to music, talk with the customers, smoke some weed, and sell shit. The many customers range all the way from cool to fucking sheep fuckers. Sorry, wrong movie. I meant, they range from cool to douche bags. There's also some who are just fucking WEIRD like milk lady or egg dude.
The direction by Kevin Smith was actually really good for a first time movie director at the time.  Smith has come a very long way since CLERKS.  The entire movie is shot in black and white, which actually gives the movie some major class. I'm not really sure what made Smith decide to film CLERKS that way, but it certainly works.  Kevin Smith  actually used to work at Quick Stop, which is where he shot this movie in his hometown of New Jersey.  Smith would expand this new Askew world in a series of films now known as the Askewiniverse. The films which followed are MALLRATS, CHASING AMY, DOGMA, JAY & SILENTBOB STRIKE BACK, and the long awaited sequel CLERKS II. 
The acting is pretty damn fucking awesome. Brian O' Halloran is great as Dante Hicks, giving us a character that we can truly relate to on some level or another. Jeff Anderson is even more awesome and hilarious as the slacker and sarcastic Randal Graves. Here's a guy that I would totally want to hang out with.  Jason Mewes IS Jay. The guy is just a delight to watch in all of these movies. Kevin Smith stars in the Askew world as Silentbob. He usually doesn't talk until he has something very meaningful to say.  Marilyn Ghiqliotti is decent as Veronica. She definitely wore the pants in the relationship and has a major chip on her shoulder. And she sucked 37 DICKS and likes to snowball!  Lisa Spoonhaur was good as Caitlin. All in all, great cast!
Overall, CLERKS is a great comedy. It's funny, it's highly entertaining, it's a stress reliever, and it was the stardom of Kevin Smith and his motion picture comic world of View Askew.  Definitely check it out. Clerks. They may serve you, but that don't mean they like you. 

1 comment:

  1. Excellent review! I love CLERKS and the rest of the installments in this franchise. It's funny in a perverse, but realistic way. You can definitely relate to all these characters and their situations on a human level, even if you never worked as a clerk.

    As for the black & white thing, it was used because black & white film is cheaper than color film. So it was probably Smith's way of saving money.