Movie Review: “Clerks” – The Beginning of a Marathon

When I look at all of the movies I haven’t seen (thanks to Flickhart.com… and it’s not as bad as it looks. I’m not quite up to date.), I decided that the best way to knock out a lot of the big ones were with marathons. This Christmas, my sister and I watched all 7 Tarantino movies in chronological order. Her favorite was Death Proof. Mine, if taken as a unit is Kill Bill Vol.1 & 2; alone I say Reservoir Dogs.

I digress.

My latest marathon will be Kevin Smith films. With all of the not-so-recent press about is “Red State” stunt where he opened the floor to bidders and then bought it himself as a statement against marketing or the studio system or something, I thought he would be a good subject. He also was a guest the other week on a podcast called Doug Loves Movies. So I’m now going to make my way through the Askewniverse and beyond. And maybe when I’m done I’ll be able to use Askewniverse in a sentence.

(**) “Clerks” is famously Kevin Smith’s first feature. The lore still holds that he made it for under $30,000. It was shot in black and white to save money. It was filmed in the store where Kevin Smith worked. They filmed after closing and stayed through until morning. That’s great and beautiful, but a backstory of a film shouldn’t matter in determining it’s worth.

Fortunately, the movie does stand on it’s own, but not too gracefully. This Godot-esque movie gives us a day in the life of Dante and Randal, two clerks in neighboring stores. Well, not too much happens. They have a lot of annoying customers. Many not annoying and indifferent customers. They play hockey on the roof. Dante gets in a fight or two with his girlfriend. That’s about it. Of course , that’s part of the absurd fun. It entertains in its ennui, it delights in its boredom, in the quotidian schlep that is their lives.

Randal is easily the most interesting, well-rounded, and funniest guy in the movie. He runs the video store and cracks lots of great film store jokes. Did I like him because I am a film nerd or am I a film nerd because I like him? Either way, he spews lots of great lines about porn, hermaphroditic porn, and sucking your own penis. In addition to summing up my own personal philosophy on humanity.

(Randal demands to go with Dante to the funeral)

Randal: I’m not missing what’s probably going to be the social event of the season.

Dante: You hate people.

Randal: But I love gatherings. Isn’t it ironic?

(Tangent: Here’s to hoping in “Dogma” Randal explains irony to Alanis Morissette.)

Unfortunately, I’m running out of good things to say. Jay of Jay and Silent Bob fame was unique and interesting enough. And this movie has a horrifying scene at the end involving Dante’s ex-girlfriend. Unimaginable. Beyond that, the movie was really kind of weak. The actor who played Dante isn’t worth remembering since he’s done nothing else and was probably a great Biff in his high school production of “Death of a Salesman” or some nonsense like that. His line delivery is entirely flat and his emotions are staged. His whining is so unbearable that you end up hoping he fails to make it out of his small-town life and is trapped as a convenience store clerk forever.

Perhaps that’s the point. while I got more of a Samuel Becket vibe, apparently Kevin Smith wanted this to be more like Dante Alghieri’s “Inferno” and each of the chapters of the movie mirrors a circle of hell. I would say that the screenplay is another strong point. The dialogue doesn’t always hit where it needs to, and maybe it wanders just a little too far from what needs to happen, but a pretty strong message is made throughout the film. Maybe they are meant to be stuck there. Maybe no can help them. Or maybe, like Randal’s poor Death Star contracted plumbers, they know what they are doing, and Dante and Randal are consciously damning themselves to a horrible and misguided demise.

And in case you were wondering, here is the list of movies Randal orders from the retailer. I’ll do some… research to see if any of them are real.

  • This isn't directly related to the movie at all, but it's real!

    Whisper in the Wind

  • To Each His Own
  • Put it Where it Doesn’t Belong
  • My Pipes Need Cleaning
  • All Tit-Fucking, Vol. 8
  • I Need Your Cock
  • Ass-Worshipping Rim-Jobbers
  • My Cunt and Eight Shafts
  • Cum Clean
  • Cum-Gargling Naked Sluts
  • Cum Buns III
  • Cumming in a Sock
  • Cum on Eileen
  • Huge Black Cocks with Pearly White Cum
  • Slam it Up My Too-Loose Ass
  • Ass Blasters in Outer Space
  • Blowjobs by Betsy
  • Sucking Cock and Cunt
  • Finger My Ass
  • Play with My Puss
  • Three on a Dildo
  • Girls Who Crave Cock
  • Girls Who Crave Cunt
  • Men Alone 2: The K.Y. Connection
  • Pink Pussy Lips
  • All Holes Filled with Hard Cock
  • Happy Scrappy: The Hero Pup
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