A grotesque, thoroughly hilarious and strikingly sincere sequel about the ultimate slackers, Clerks II reminds us why we loved Randall and Dante the first time around. Kevin Smith is not a bad director, but his talents penning a script upstage his directorial savvy. This film captures the monotony of a dead-end job, and also injects a new feeling of hope for our beloved slackers.
Smith keeps the film fairly simple, but not without his usual geeky, foul-mouthed charm. He effectively shoots in black and white, for key scenes, to trigger some nostalgic effect for the first film, in fact he bookends the film with black and white footage quite nicely. The soundtrack isn’t the typical metal rock you might expect, but it varies to keep the film feeling fresh. There are also quite a few surprises, such as the dance sequence to express the happiness of a particular character. Overall, the direction is solid, but the script is the star. Creatively explicit, intelligently commenting on pop-culture, as well as social factors, and even diving into complex relationships, Smith’s script is fantastic once again. His pen still hasn’t run out of creativity, and his hand still has the grip to apply bold, unpredictable strokes.
Brian O’Halloran (Dante) and Jeff Anderson (Randal) are still not quite amazing actors, but they have improved some over the years. Dante is the slacker who’s landed a golden ticket out of his dead-end life, trying to secure his future after pissing on it for over a decade. Randal is still a smart-ass that one can admire because he speaks without a societal filter. Anderson also has an emotional scene where he is given the chance to shine, and he does it without being cheesy. Both come off as two guys that are likable, kick-back buddies. They are surrounded by the usual Kevin Smith characters, including the always fresh Jay and Silent Bob. Rosario Dawson, the newcomer, fits right in, even if she is too pretty for the part, as the “what if” girl for Dante.
Clerks II is a worthy sequel, and probably fits in the top 10 slacker films of all-time. It still resonates within all of us that have had to get over that hump of being comfortable with being unimpressive. The film is about moving on, and catching up with rest of the world instead of continuing to stay behind. By the end, Randal and Dante have finally progressed in life, but they don’t sacrifice who they are to do so.
Surprisingly, there are many times that Smith works outside the characters comfort zone, and plugs in something unusual for the characters to do. Also, many hate the random dance sequence. Everyone wants it to be the same as Clerks, but that would make a horrible sequel. The characters do progress, and they do grow, and it makes the film better. As for the dance sequence, I initially thought that felt awkward but it fits.
The film’s humor is disgusting, at times childish, and even offensive. If that’s not for you, then avoid this and every other Kevin Smith film out there.
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