Review by Mark Walters


Oddly enough, I was introduced to Kevin Smith films with CHASING AMY, not realizing he had done two other movies before then.  For some reason I didn't get around to watching CLERKS until years after it had come out.  When I finally did watch it, I was very pleased.  You could definitely tell there was a vision behind its director.  Smith makes movies from what he knows.  He doesn't try to appeal to mass audiences, which he readily admits.  But that's not a bad thing.  As a result his films remain unique and sincere.  Though he's revisited some of his characters in almost all of his films, (particularly the stoner buddies Jay and Silent Bob) this new movie marks the first time Kevin has truly done a sequel.  And how appropriate that it be a sequel to his very first movie.

The film opens with Dante Hicks (Brian O'Halloran) coming to work for yet another day at the Quick Stop, his apparently lifelong career.  But this day holds an unexpected surprise.  The store is in flames.  Once his next door employee buddy Randal Graves (Jeff Anderson) shows up, it's revealed that his negligence toward the coffee pot may be to blame.  So Dante and Randal find work elsewhere, and that elsewhere is a Mooby's fast food location.  This burger joint becomes their new home, and the new home of their former outdoor fixtures, Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith), who peddle their drugs to addicts even though they themselves have apparently cleaned up in rehab.  While Randal spends his days tormenting another younger Mooby's employee named Elias (Trevor Fehrman), Dante is preparing to marry his girlfriend Emma (Jennifer Schwalbach Smith).  Their boss Becky (Rosario Dawson) has a close relationship with Dante, and his impending marriage doesn't sit well with her.  Though these characters go about their everyday lives, interesting things are beginning to come to light, and soon everyone's daily routine could be changed forever.

Kevin set out to make a sequel to CLERKS, and that's exactly what he's done here.  It's not necessarily bigger and flashier, though there are obvious filmmaking improvements.  But rather what Smith has done is properly continue these characters, and effectively bring them into the present day.  There are pop culture references a plenty, letting you know this is taking place now and not then.  Have Dante and Randal changed or matured.  That is a matter of opinion.  But their relationship and chemistry together is what drives this piece.  It's kind of like seeing old friends that have been lost for years, and realizing that they're just as you remembered them.  Brian O'Halloran is a great protagonist as Dante.  Often letting his emotions get the better of him, his manic personality is consistently fun to watch.  Jeff Anderson delivers terrific comedic timing with his sarcastic character of Randal.  He's that smart-ass guy we all know, but tolerate because he makes us laugh.  Watching these two on the big screen is fun, and that's ultimately the best part of the film.  But the side performances are solid too.  Rosario Dawson is so lovably cute as Becky.  I defy you not to fall in love with her character.  This is the girl we all wanted, and many of us were too stupid to act on it.  Jay and Silent Bob are used somewhat sparingly, though they are peppered quite a bit throughout the film.  I'm glad Kevin didn't overdo the Jay and Bob scenes, simply because it could've easily distracted the audience from the Dante and Randal story.  They're in here, and they're funny, but their strictly supporting characters.  I was very impressed with Trevor Fehrman.  He has a naive comedic quirkiness about him that is begging to be used again on the big screen.  On more than one occasion I thought he stole the scene.  Kevin must have know this guy would be gold.  Look for a nice performance from Jennifer Schwalbach Smith as well playing Emma.  I've heard some people criticize Smith for using his wife in his movies (his daughter Harley also has a cameo), but Jennifer does a good job.  I actually would've liked to see more of her, though I understand the story has to move in a different direction.  While you won't necessarily see other View Askewniverse characters in here, there are cameos a plenty, including Ben Affleck, Jason Lee, Wanda Sykes, and producer Scott Mosier, all given some memorable and hilarious scenes.  Are there any negatives?  I could comment on how some of the acting isn't Oscar worthy, or that Brian O'Halloran seems better in one on one scenes with Rosario Dawson that he does in other scenes, but why bother.  This movie is fun to watch, and I had a good time with it.  Is it better than the first CLERKS?  Sure, in some ways yes.  But one should expect Kevin to improve upon what has come before.  Is it the best Kevin Smith movie ever made?  Again, that's a matter of opinion.  In many ways I think it's Kevin's most cohesive effort.  We can see that he, more than anyone here, has matured as a filmmaker.  Oh sure, there's dick and fart jokes, and even some bestiality here and there, but the overall film is perhaps the most sincere piece of work to come out of Smith.  This is him showing us what he wants to do, plain and simple.  The question is now being asked whether or not we'll see any of these characters again.  If so I welcome it.  These movies aren't for everyone, but those who get it will most likely be very pleased.  I know I was. score - On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being best, I give CLERKS II a 9.

Visit the Weinstein Company's CLERKS II movie website by clicking here.

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