So it falls to me to review Clerks III. Has it really been nearly 30 years? Kevin Smith has not been the most popular guy among movie fans in the last few years. Between the misfire of the Jay And Silent Bob reboot sequel and his total destruction of He-Man, most geeks don’t expect too much from him these days.
But man, does he know the Clerks characters. Quite frankly I don’t think any of his movies hold a candle to them. While Clerks III doesn’t quite have the laughs of Clerks II, it does have well thought out sentimentality that probably shouldn’t work as well as it does.
Our two Clerks, Dante and Randall spend their days working the Qwick Stop playing street hockey on the roof and wiling away their days behind the counters. Not much has changed other than the video rental store is now a THC shop run by Jay and Silent Bob.
But all that changes when Randall has a heart attack. Using this moment to re-evaluate his life, he decides to make a movie. As you might expect, he ends up making the original Clerks, bringing everything full circle.
I hesitate to say any more than this, but there are more than a few surprises on how their lives have turned out. This is a Randall story, but Dante is key and still has growth from the previous movies.
The jokes are a bit too self-referential but never descend into ‘memberberries. Clearly Smith’s own heart attack a few years ago did inform this movie, and there might be just a bit of symbolism in how the person he was has left him, in favor of the person he is now.
Again, while I do fault the movie for the humor not being quite as good as the past movies, I do not fault the sincerity of what he was trying to accomplish.
One thing that’s a little harder to accept is that Randall’s douchebaggery was always easier to take because he was usually right about Dante’s choices. Here, he’s just wrong. That makes the asshole behavior a little harder to swallow. He does manage to learn a lesson but it takes him from likeable asshole to sometimes crossing that line to unlikeable asshole. It was needed for the story and it’s a difficult line to cross without ruining the character. I would say they mostly pulled it off, but you’ll wince once or twice.
Bringing back so many people for this never felt forced, with Veronica from the first movie, Rebecca from the second movie, and of course all your favorites like the milk-maid and the Chewlies gum guy coming back.
Do stay through the credits. While there is no post credits scene, Smith does a nice voiceover thanking the audience and speaking from the heart about Clerks and that store in general. It’s a nice moment.
I didn’t expect to get emotional in this movie, but I did. Smith may not be able to make movies like he did in the nineties anymore, but he still understands these characters and does right by them. Dante and Randall are lifelong friends for a reason and they will continue to be so, no matter what happens. Some ties can’t be cut.
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