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Kevin Smith has delved into action ("Mallrats"), drama ("Chasing Amy")
and philosophy ("Dogma") in his Askewniverse, but Clerks, the first
film of the series, is still the best.
Shot on a ridiculously low budget, using mostly friends and relatives as the cast and crew (see the line in the credits where "Boom" is credited as "whoever happened to be holding the pole"), "Clerks" is such a great film just because it doesn't try to be more than it is. You get the sense that this movie is in black and white not to be pretentious, but just because it's a prosaic look at prosaic lives.
Kevin Smith's real gift is writing funny, witty dialogue, and that's what carries this film. From Star Wars debates (did the destruction of the second Death Star in "Jedi" cost innocent contractors their lives?) to perfectly serious debates about sex ("Thirty-seven???"), this is the ultimate movie for anyone who's ever been going nowhere and doing nothing. It's a day in the life of the guy working at the corner store, no more, no less. But it's absolutely brilliant.
People either love or hate Kevin Smith movies. Chances are, if you can appreciate the humour of low-brow jokes about pornography as high art, then you'll enjoy "Clerks". His brand of humour isn't for everyone. This is his first film and it's flawed, to be sure. But in my humble opinion, it's still Smith's best.
I am very biased on the 9 rating i gave this movie. I could have even given it a 10 for I am, and for a long time has been a clerk. This movie to me was as moving and compelling as Passion of the Christ was for some Catholic people i know. In fact, in some moments, it even brought me to tears. The film is about a guy who works in a convenience store. He comes across the weirdest and most annoying customers that, ironically, don't shy too far from those in real life that I, myself have come across. This clerk is visited by his girlfriend and regularly visiting by his distraught and careless friend who is a clerk at the neighboring video store. If you aren't a clerk, and you watch this movie, remember this: This movie is as true to form as it gets. Some people claim it to be one of the best comedies of the past decade. I say it's the best Documentary of all time.
In 1994, an ambitious filmmaker named Kevin Smith was left nearly
dead-broke by his commitment to his low-budget debut feature, "Clerks."
Shot in black & white and filmed in and around a New Jersey convenience
store, "Clerks." is genius on celluloid despite little change of
scenery, wooden acting (none of the actors are professionals), and a
shoe-string budget; it's also pretty damn funny. "Just because they
serve you, doesn't me they like you" became an immortal tagline for one
of the best independent comedies of all time, which also launched the
career of its director. There's nothing PC about this debut feature,
and the relentlessly explicit sex-related dialogue got the film its
original certificate, the dreaded "NC-17" rating, which was later
dropped down to an "R" rating on a successful appeal by the filmmakers;
the characters harass their customers, leave the store during the day
to tend to personal matters, and hang-out with girlfriends - not the
stuff of responsible employees - and definitely NOT something you would
see in any Hollywood production today. In an era rife with censorship
and political-correctness, "Clerks." would undoubtedly receive the
scorn and protests of the fundamental religious Right and Left. The
film features Dante (Brian O'Halloran) and Randal (Jeff Anderson), two
bored New Jersey convenience store employees who are both called in on
a Saturday (Dante is especially upset because it's his day off) and the
two break every rule in the book as they meander through the day and
encounter all sorts of colorful characters. Throughout the day, Dante
complains about about his girlfriend Veronica's (Marilyn Ghigliotti)
sex life, Randal shirks his convenience store duties by shooting the
breeze with Dante, philosophize about their daily predicaments, play
hockey on the roof of the store, and observe unruly and bizarre
shoppers. There's little plot but it's pure fun all the way to the
ending with plenty of laughs too. But if you're the sensitive type, you
should stay as far away from "Clerks." as possible, as the dialogue
will certainly make you squirm in your seat. "Clerks." also contains
many Smith trademarks including "Star Wars" talk, references to
Spielberg movies, comic books and hockey, all qualities of which would
do Smith good in his so-called "New Jersey Trilogy." P.S.: Watch out
for Smith in his iconic role as Silent Bob with sidekick Jay (Jason
Mewes) as they loiter outside the store and hassle customers.
This has to be my all time favorite comedy and one of my all time favorites overall. About three years ago a friend of mine came to school one day raving about the funniest movie he had seen on late night. He talked about this black and white low budget movie about two blue collar losers who talked endlessly about sex. From that description I wasn't anticipating a masterpiece but I decided to rent it anyway. It was probably the best surprise I have ever had. I was laughing the entire time, so much so that I nearly woke up everyone in my house. For months afterwards my friend and I would endlessly talk about and quote this incredible film. Everyone I have recommended it to has loved it and I can easily see why. I know that some people attack the movie as being vulgar and excessive. The way I see it it is being true to life (I'm sure that when you have 10 hours to kill you'll talk about the average pay of a gizz mopper). In short I absolutely love this film and it gets better and better with every viewing. Rent this film as soon as possible if you haven't already.
Clerks is one of those movies everyone knows everything about even
before they've seen it. The most fascinating aspect is probably the
back-story: Kevin Smith sold his comic-book collection to finance it,
shot it in the convenience store where he was working at the time, and
cast his school friends in the various roles (two of them wound up
playing three or four characters each). The film became a huge hit at
Sundance, and is now widely (and justly) considered one of the best
independent movies of all time.
The plot is quite easy to sum up: nothing happens. It's just a "regular" day in the lives of a few people working in or outside a Quick Stop convenience store. The fun starts immediately, as Dante Hicks (Brian O'Halloran) is asked to replace a sick colleague. This upsets him a lot, since it's supposed to be his day off ("You know what the worst part is? I'm not even supposed to BE here today!"). So now he has to serve a bunch of rather annoying or excessively weird people, with occasional help from his friend Randal Graves (Jeff Anderson), who "works" in the video store next to Quick Stop. Together, they discuss things like hermaphroditic porn or, Tarantino-style, which Star Wars sequel is better (Jedi or Empire?), and also try to find ways of not working, or at least make the day less boring (as Randal puts it:"This job would be great if it wasn't for the f**king customers"). Between these discussions, they also interact with Dante's present girlfriend Veronica (whose sex life causes heated debates) and ex Caitlin, who's apparently engaged to some Asian design major. And let's not forget Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Smith himself), two drug dealers consistently located outside the store.
Smith uses these characters to reference his favorite movies (the previously mentioned Star Wars, as well as Jaws and Indiana Jones) and talk about any subject in the filthiest way imaginable. Some incredibly outrageous stuff is mentioned ("jizz moppers", necrophilia, "snowballing"), but unlike John Waters, he never shows the events discussed by Dante, Randal et al. Everything occurs, or has occurred, off-screen, so all we get to do is have a good laugh, because no matter how crude it gets (the film is rated R for "Extensive Use Of Extremely Explicit Sex-Related Dialogue"), Smith's writing remains genuinely funny. Randal, in particular, steals every scene with his existential musings ("I'm a firm believer in the philosophy of a ruling class. Especially since I rule.") or very politically incorrect antics (the top? Reading a list of pornographic flicks in front of a mother and her baby).
If you haven't seen it yet, do it, and fast: Clerks fully deserves its cult status. It has priceless dialogue, wisecracking characters and loads of swearing. What else can you ask for?
If you have seen American Pie and think of it as being honest and real
sex and the way kids talk, then Clerks is right up your alley. I don't
think a movie has pleasantly shocked me more than this one has. And make
mistake about it, this is one of the funniest movies I've ever
By now we've all heard the story of how Kevin Smith somehow scrounged up $27000 to piece this rag tag film together. It was at a film festival and some film executive saw it and offered him a generous amount of money. They fixed it up and before you know it we have the best indie film ever made. Kevin Smith is now a recognizable name in Hollywood and that alone should make you want to see this film.
Dante and Randal are best friends. They work at a small convenience store and a crappy little video store respectively. As a matter a fact, the video store is so inept that Randall actually goes to one of the bigger video stores in town to rent his movies. Anyway, Dante is obsessed with his ex-girlfriend that cheated on him and he has a present girlfriend that is wonderful to him. That is the basic premise for the movie. And that is all you need to know about the plot. Because what the film is really about is how these characters really talk to each other. It is a bunch of clever anecdotes pieced together hilariously to form a movie. But some of the scenes are just so damn funny that Clerks stays with you for a long long time.
Take for instance a scene where Dante and his girlfriend are discussing the various responsibilities of a man and a woman in sex. Each has an obvious gender biased view of the act but listen to how honest it is written, it gives meaning and much hilarity to the scene. From here, the two end up discussing how many people the other has slept with. And we all know that is an absolute no no in relationships. Because no matter how many or how little the number is, it is too much. But that would be too easy for Smith to end it at that. No, he takes it a step further. From here Veronica ( the girlfriend ) explains that she has only slept with X amount of guys but she has gone down on 36 others. Dante is mortified. How can she do that? And she explains that when she "does it" it means more than when she goes down and that is supposed to make him feel better. It of course doesn't and the pay off in the scene is brilliant as Veronica is walking back to her car. And that is just one of the scenes that makes the film work. There are dozens of other scenes similar in nature that are so humourous yet painfully honest that you laugh but when the giggles subside, you realize that it is so true.
The obvious strength of this film is the writing. But beyond that, Smith establishes himself as a director that can get a performance out of his actors. Almost every major character in here is so well done that you think they had 20 attempts to get it perfect instead of the 3 or 4 that the budget would allow. Dante is well played by O'Halloran but it is Anderson as Randle that I think steels the picture. He is so honest and natural in every scene that he is in that it actually bothers me that he has not established himself in the game. Is it because no one wants to give him a role or is it that he has no interest in movies? I don't know, I just wish he was around again because he is electric.
Jay and Silent Bob are funny as well and Bob provides the film with one of the funnier moments as he dances out of nowhere and then he shocks us with his only line of the film. And what he says may as well be Socrates talking and not a simple street hood. It really works.
I love Clerks. It is such a fun movie and if you haven't seen this gem, check it out. Like it for the funny film that it is, but love it for whats behind it.
This film has heart. And Smith is an inspiration to anyone that wants to do what he did. After all, he proves that nothing is impossible. He is living proof of that.
Everyone has to start somewhere. Kevin Smith started his popular Jay
and Silent Bob series with Clerks., a $50,000 film whose soundtrack
cost more than the actual movie cost to make. It's poorly done, it's
monochromatic (which actually works to its advantage), it's cheap, but
it's funny, and that's all that really counts. The story is more than I
thought it would be, and it's continuously funny throughout the whole
short runtime. Many of the crude adventures of Dante and Randal are now
Dante (Brian O'Halloran) works at the Quick Stop convenience store. He's called in on a day off. His friend Randal (Jeff Anderson) works next door at a video store, but sporadically closes it to hang out at the Quick Stop. Throughout the day, various things occur, such as a gum representative trying to get people to stop smoking and chew his gum, a rabbi using the employee's bathroom (with an unexpected twist at the end), disrupting a wake, and the now-classic scene at the video store with "Happy Scrappy Hero Pup".
This movie has non-stop humor going for it. Whether it's Dante's or Randal's confrontations with the unruly customers (who seem over-the-top yet regular), their conversations about nothing (especially Star Wars), or their departures from their respective stores to play hockey or whatnot. I can see that Clerks. is to minimum wage earners as Office Space is to office workers. Dante's always a little timid when it comes to dealing with the unruly customers, but when Randal takes the stage, it's a lot funnier.
Although the parts about Veronica (Marilyn Ghigliotti) and Cairlin (Lisa Spoonhauer) weren't that interesting (except for the 36...make that 37 people), they were necessary, and seemed to create a plot out of this, basically, sketch comedy. It succeeded, and turned it into a great all around film. Most of these people had never acted before, and although it does seem like they're just reciting their lines (there's almost no break in between the dialogue), they do a good job at it. Sometimes it seems a little too scripted (for voice and diction, etc.), but for a bunch of first-timers, it's not bad at all.
Considering the rest of the series (besides Mallrats, which I haven't seen), I'd say Clerks. is close with Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back for the funniest Kevin Smith movie. They're also the two crudest, and the first and last in the series, respectively. But Clerks. will always stay as it was when it was released 10 years ago-revolutionary. It showed that money and action aren't important to make a movie funny.
My rating: 8/10
Rated R for extensive use of extremely explicit sex-related dialogue.
Why claim ultra-budget movies as being the "best film ever" when you can see some guys with almost no scenary and a very low budget make a great movie that is intelligent, funny, has a good soundtrack AND is well done at the same time? Not to mention the autoral thing. It's the kind of movie that makes me think "hey, I wish I'd made this movie... and I could!" : ) --- PS: I call it life savior cause I quit my job as a clerk on the most chic CD store in my town, and couldn't figure out why. When I saw this movie I found out and recovered the trust in my self.
Funny, fast paced story of an assortment of pathetic losers, their dreams, girlfriends, and go nowhere lives. I laughed all the way through at the give and take between the two lead characters and their stupid friends and lovers. Both intelligent, sometimes even sagely; the two men lead lives of loneliness and boredom leading to a careless attitude about their jobs which, in time, will become their position on all things unless they choose to reverse the course they are following. I was groaning with glee as the store clerk had it out with his lady friend over how many men she had fellatio with. I liked the way the film was broken up into titled parts, each comprising a small story within the tale. Zany, well worth the price of entry.
I've heard so many good things about this movie that, I just had to see
it. What I came away with after viewing it was a bad taste in my mouth.
How can so many people like this piece of garbage? I'll summarize with this... Unlikely dialog, delivered by slack jawed uninteresting losers, who feel life has given them a bad break.
No one talks like they did in the film. I've met a broad spectrum of people from every conceivable profession and, none of them spoke the way the people in this piece-of-crap film do. This movie is so overrated its not even slightly funny.
I do like some other of Kevin Smith's films however. But this is not one of them. I'll never figure out why people hold it in such high regard.
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