I think I can safely say that Clerks II is a faithful remake that mines the same comedy veins and feels very familiar in tone to the first one. The problem for me is that twelve years have passed since the original and comedy is a constantly changing beast. Hell, even Kevin Smith has grown and changed as a filmmaker since the original, so why have such a pointless nod to the past?
Clerks II picks up where Clerks left off except that it is ten years later and the boys have a new place of work. They’ve traded in the convenience store (where evidently they toiled TEN YEARS) for a fast food joint. Dante and Randall are back with the same dynamic; Dante is the put upon straight man while his best friend Randall is portrayed as a loudmouth offensive know-it-all. Throw in Rosario Dawson as their manager and Trevor Fehrman as Elias the teen butt of jokes and you’ve got the complete picture. It is Dante’s last day at work because he’s engaged and scheduled to leave for Florida the very next day. As usual you’ll get sparse plot notes here, instead please relax and enjoy my general thoughts on how effectively the movie executed.
On a positive note Clerks II has the best bestiality scene I’ve ever witnessed and champions the idea that you can bring a racially offensive slur back into the common vernacular simply by using it differently. These are funny moments which remind you why you liked the first one so much. The chemistry between Dante and Randall, and in Fact Jay and Silent Bob is essentially the same as in the first and it’s somehow comforting to know things haven’t changed a bit in New Jersey in the past decade. Rosario Dawson is refreshing in her role and shows a soft side that Sin City wouldn’t dare to. Clerks II also proves the gal can dance which I’m sure reassures our Latin readers everywhere. The kid, Elias, is better than average as a weirdo teen with some odd ideas about sex. Those are the highlights, now on to the not-so-much’s.
The lowlights start off with everything feeling a tad bit stale. I’m sure some people do work in fast food in their 30’s but I’ve got to think they’d bring a lot more bitterness, acrimony, drama, and comedy to the picture if they did. When the boys worked at the convenience store it seemed about right because they were trying to “find themselves” much like Kevin Smith’s own journey to become a filmmaker. Now, years later, they should’ve been found. No one as seemingly smart and kind as Dante would hang around making minimum wage his whole life, I mean wouldn’t he be aiming for shift supervisor at least? Kevin Smith went on to make great films after Clerks (which was essentially great because it was so obscure and cheaply made) but it seems he couldn’t find the same evolution for his two original characters. I’m not saying the fellas should’ve been in suits and ties selling stocks but I think ten years would have left them markedly different as men. Discovering the changes in Dante and Randall would’ve been a far funnier and more interesting experience. I think I can safely say there won’t be a Clerks III as it felt like not enough material was available for this one.
They say you can’t ever really go home again (whoever they are) which I think is really hammered home by this effort. There was simply no way for Smith to recreate something creatively which happened to him before he had money, a wife, or Hollywood juice. What comes out instead is a mixed bag of laughs and eye rolls. It’s worth seeing if you adored Clerks and want to see a very like minded flick but if you are looking for giant comedy or a comedy that stands on its own I’d say this is not the one for you.