Still Dealing

Clerks II

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.

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