Brian O’Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Jason Mewes, and Kevin Smith star in a film written and directed by Smith.
Reviewed by Molly Freedenberg
A good movie creates its own universe — its own language, inside jokes, and relationships. And a good sequel both stands on its own and adds a new chapter to the first movie’s story. Clerks II, much to my surprise and delight, does both.
The film catches up with Dante and Randal after 10 years at the Quik Stop, when they’ve moved to a fast-food joint only because they accidentally burned down the mini mart. Jay and Silent Bob are back to loitering and selling drugs — after a stint in rehab. Even Ben Affleck makes an appearance as a customer. Lance Dowds (Jason Lee) is the high school jerk/internet millionaire who makes Randal question his choices in life. Although it may sound like a “Where are they now?” tribute for hardcore fans only, Clerks II is actually a completely separate story relying on the great writing, witty dialogue, and unpolished production that made the first such a hit.
Subtle nods to the first film will spark delight and recognition in die-hards, but won’t alienate first-time viewers. Familiar characters stay true to their natures without retreating to old ground. New characters fit seamlessly into the landscape, with notable additions including Elias, theTransformers-obsessed Christian virgin, and Becky, the store’s warm, smart manager, who is played by a sparkling Rosario Dawson.
The film’s only shortfall is the clichéd “teach me how to dance at my wedding” plot device, but a hilarious full-cast dance number saves it. The film has many other highlights, such as Randal admitting that “porch monkey” is not a “non-racist” term. There’s also Elias and the trolls, and a spectacularly absurd cinematic climax.
The arrival of Clerks II in theaters is sure to spark new interest in the original film, sending fans back for a nostalgic viewing, and new moviegoers to see what they were missing. In fact, this film is the perfect entrée into Kevin Smith’s work for the uninitiated, including those who were too young to appreciate Chasing Amy or Dogma the first time around.