Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

Clerks X - The 10th Anniversary Edition

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
6 out of 10
Extras Rating:
10 out of 10
Movie Details:
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Rating: R

Starring:
Brian O'Halloran as Dante Hicks
Jeff Anderson as Randal Graves
Marilyn Ghigliotti as Veronica Loughran
Lisa Spoonhauer as Caitlin Bree
Jason Mewes as Jay
Kevin Smith as Silent Bob
Scott Mosier as Willam Black/Angry Hockey Playing Customer/Angry Mourner
Walter Flanagan as Woolen Cap Smoker/Egg Man/Offended Customer/Cat Admiring Bitter Customer
Scott Schiaffo as Chewlie's Rep
Al Berkowitz as Old Man
David Klein as Hunting Cap Smoking Boy/Low I.Q. Video Customer/Hubcap Searching Customer/Angry Mourner/Angry Crowd at Door
Ed Hapstak as Sanford/Angry Mourner
Pattijean Csik as Coroner
Ernest O'Donnell as Rick Derris
Kimberly Loughran as Heather

Special Features:
Clerks – Theatrical Version

Classic Commentary circa '95 – featuring Kevin, Mos, Mewes, Brian and Others

Enhanced Playback Track

"Clerks": Lost Scene

"The Flying Car"

MTV Spots with Jay and Silent Bob

Theatrical Trailer

Music Video

"Clerks" Restoration Intros

Original "Clerks" Auditions

Clerks – The First Cut

All New Audio and Video Commentary with Kevin, Brian, Jeff, Mos, and Mewes

"Snowball Effect: The Story of Clerks"

"Mae Day: The Crumbling of a Documentary"

10th Anniversary Q&A

Outtakes from "Snowball Effect"

Still Photo Gallery

Original Kevin Smith Journals

Articles and Reviews

DVD ROM – Enhanced Playback Track

Kevin Smith's Original 168 Page First Draft of the "Clerks" Screenplay

Other Info:
Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Running Time: 92 Minutes

Synopsis:
This film was originally released in 1994 and it went on to launch writer / director Kevin Smith's career.

Dante Hicks is miserable working at his dead end job at a convenience store. On his day off, he's called in to work. Things go downhill from there. He finds out about the sexual history of his girlfriend Veronica. He also finds out that his old girlfriend, whom he still secretly loves, is engaged to be married. He even finds out that another old flame has died.

Dante also is harassed by an endless parade of customers who are either abusive or stupid. During all this he gets unwanted commentary and criticism from his friend Randal who works in the video store next door. Throughout the day Dante becomes more and more depressed. But will he ever wake up and get himself out of his mess or continue to wallow in self pity?

Clerks is rated R on appeal for extensive use of extremely explicit sex-related dialogue.

The Movie:
Believe it or not, this is the first time I have seen Clerks. Despite it being a cult classic, I somehow missed it over the years. It's also only the second Kevin Smith film that I've ever seen. (The first was Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.) I found it to be a bit of a mixed bag. I thought that Kevin Smith was great at writing dialogue. He was able to find the humor in the most mundane, everyday situations. His script was witty and amusing. Some of the conversation was also hilariously absurd. (As a Star Wars fan I got a big kick out of the Death Star contractors scene.) However, I didn't care for the extreme profanity and the sexual dialogue. You're either into that stuff or you're not. I'm not really into it. Like I said with Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, if you took out the word "f**k" from the film, the script would be two thirds shorter. I also think that Kevin Smith is a good enough writer that he can be funny without relying on the easy sex jokes or the four letter words.

The acting in the film is also mediocre (which is understandable considering how the movie was made). The actors all seem like they're flat out reading the dialogue off of a page. Despite this, the dialogue was generally clever enough to make that forgivable. Brian O'Halloran probably comes across the best as Dante Hicks. His performance seems the most natural. Rookie Jeff Anderson is appropriately sarcastic and belligerent as Randal Graves. It's easy to see why he's a favorite in the film since he gets some of the best lines. Also look for producer Scott Mosier, Walter Flanagan, and David Klein as a wide variety of characters in the film. I didn't even realize they played multiple characters when I first watched it. Then, of course, there's Jason Mewes as Jay and writer/director Kevin Smith himself as Silent Bob. This is the film that started their legendary cult following.

The film is shot in black and white on 16 mm film. Though it was done for budgetary and lighting reasons, it helps give the film a crude, realistic feel appropriate for the tone of the story. The movie was also shot late at night at a real store where Smith worked. The film also has a fun soundtrack featuring grunge and classic rock tunes. (These songs were added after Miramax got the rights to it.) Again, as a Star Wars fan I loved the "Chewbacca" song. You couldn't have asked for better music for the movie.

Seeing Clerks now I appreciate what Kevin Smith was able to accomplish back in 1994. On an extremely tight budget (funded by maxing out his credit cards and selling his comic collection), he was able to make his dream come true. He came up with an original idea, employed every guerilla filmmaking tactic known to the industry, and pushed the movie to make it a success. It's a movie making story that every aspiring filmmaker should be familiar with.

Who should see Clerks? Anyone who likes crude jokes, sex jokes, or movies where the characters buck the system. If you're offended by these sorts of things, you're probably best passing on it. But if you're a fan of Kevin Smith, you'll definitely want this movie added to your collection.

The Extras:
There are an overwhelming number of extras included in this three disc DVD set. Here are some of the highlights:

Classic Commentary circa '95 – featuring Kevin, Mos, Mewes, Brian and Others – This commentary is included with the theatrical version of the film. If you've already bought Clerks on DVD or laserdisc, you probably have it. If not, I think you'll find it to be funny and informative. Despite being Silent Bob, Smith appropriately dominates the conversation.

Enhanced Playback Track – With this feature turned on, you can watch the theatrical version with text boxes that pop up. They have bits of trivia about the film. If you've already seen Clerks, this may be a fun extra to check out.

"Clerks": Lost Scene – This scene was never filmed for budget reasons, but it was in the script nevertheless. It's presented here in animated form (in color) and can actually be viewed as part of the theatrical version. In this scene, Randal and Dante go into his friend's funeral. In it, Dante tells Randal about how the girls' parents caught him having sex with her. Of course, Randal makes a point to have Dante awkwardly come face to face with the parents. Things get worse when their car keys inadvertently land in the casket with the body. The scene is probably better left unseen in the movie since the imaginations of the audience come up with something worse than they could put on the screen, but it's still a fun addition for Clerks fans.

"The Flying Car" – Kevin Smith shot this film for the Tonight Show, I think. In any case, it features Dante and Randal stuck in traffic talking about flying cars. Of course the conversation meanders into the absurd before ending on a true Clerks note.

MTV Spots with Jay and Silent Bob – Kevin Smith filmed a series of Jay and Silent Bob shorts for MTV and they are all included here. They feature Jay imitating Marylin Manson, Silent Bob and Jay babysitting a little girl, and Jay listing all the pop stars he'd like to have sex with. If you like Jay and Silent Bob, you'll enjoy this.

Music Video – Kevin Smith directed this video featuring the cast of Clerks and a band whose name I currently forget. It shows them closing up the store and playing hockey on the roof while Jay lip syncs to the song. Again, this should be a big treat for Clerks fans.

"Clerks" Restoration Intros – For this 10th Anniversary edition DVD, Scott Mosier and Kevin Smith recorded new intros for the movie. They are about as random and laid back as the movie itself. As they go on and on talking, Smith will occasionally get distracted by Mosier working off screen and the camera will follow him as he checks out what he's doing. Despite this, Smith still has some interesting info about the movie and its restoration. He even makes comments about the changes to Return of the Jedi on the upcoming DVD.

Original "Clerks" Auditions – This shows the original auditions of the main actors. They read off random pieces of monologues from various plays. It's fun to see these actors as they first tried out for their roles (which are now cult favorites).

Clerks – The First Cut – On the second disc you'll find the first cut of the film. This version had different music and an alternate ending. In that alternate ending, Dante gets shot and killed by a robber. Thankfully it was cut for the theatrical release. It seems contrary to the lighthearted spirit of the rest of the film.

All New Audio and Video Commentary with Kevin, Brian, Jeff, Mos, and Mewes – Two commentaries were recorded for the "First Cut" version of the film. With the video commentary, you can hit the "angle" button and switch between the film and video of the cast and crew recording the commentary. The video doesn't add much at all to the commentary, but they do have interesting things to say about the movie, especially 10 years after it debuted.

"Snowball Effect: The Story of Clerks" – This is a 90 minute documentary on the making of Clerks. It starts out with a mini-biography of Kevin Smith, and then segues into the making of the film. I didn't think I was going to be that interested in it and I thought 90 minutes was overkill, but I was wrong. The making of the film is a really intriguing story and they need every bit of the 90 minutes to tell it properly. Even if you're not a fan of Clerks, you may find this documentary worth checking out. It is also surprisingly candid about some of the battles that went on behind the scenes.

"Mae Day: The Crumbling of a Documentary" – This is a student film that was the first collaboration between Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier. In it, they started filming a documentary about a transvestite singer, and then the singer disappeared, so they had no documentary. The rest of the film is the crew bad mouthing the directors about how they screwed up. It's funny, but the endless complaints by the crew tend to get tedious after a while.

10th Anniversary Q&A – Most of the cast and crew show up for this Q&A following a recent screening of the film. Smith leads the discussion and has no problem harassing those asking questions. (They usually deserve it.) There's some funny questions about the gum in the locks, the fights between Smith and Jeff Anderson, and more.

Outtakes from "Snowball Effect" – There are quite a few scenes that were cut out of the documentary, but they are included here.

Original Kevin Smith Journals – Like a good writer, Smith kept journals during the making of the film and after it was released. You can read the text from them here.

Articles and Reviews – A few of the original reviews of the film are included here in text form.

The Bottom Line:
This will be a required addition to the collection of any Kevin Smith fan. An extraordinary number of bonus features make it worth picking up even if you own Clerks on DVD. If you've never seen Clerks before, this is the edition you'll want to view, but beware of lots of profanity and sexual jokes (which are Kevin Smith trademarks).

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