**** (out of 5)
July 21, 2006
Brian O’Halloran as DANTE HICKS
Jeff Anderson as RANDAL GRAVES
Jason Mewes as JAY
Kevin Smith as SILENT BOB
Jennifer Schwalbach as EMMA
Trevor Fehrman as ELIAS
Rosario Dawson as BECKY
Studio: Weinstein Co.
Directed by: Kevin Smith
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
This is the movie that has been talked about, and anticipated, for years. Fans of Kevin Smith have been more eager for the long-awaited sequel to the 1994 indie hit “Clerks” even more than they were for the “Star Wars” or “Lord of the Rings” sequels (both of which are ranted about in the film).
Even though this was promised since the credits of “Dogma,” it’s been more than half a decade before it has come out. After “Jersey Girl” went bust (which was too bad really, ‘cause it wasn’t a bad flick at all), Kevin Smith went back to what he does best – edgy, biting slacker comedies.
In this new installment of the View Askewniverse, Dante (Brian O’Halloran) is distraught to find his beloved Quick Stop convenience store burnt to a crisp because Randal (Jeff Anderson) left the coffee pot on. The two slackers, now in their 30s, trade one counter for another and get jobs at the Mooby’s fast food joint.
Dante is preparing to get married to the gaunt vixen Emma (Jennifer Schwalbach), even though he carries a torch for Mooby manager Becky (Rosario Dawson). Randal is terrified of losing his friend because the only other clerk worth hanging out with is the Tolkein and Transformer geek Elias (Trevor Fehrman). Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Smith) have recently been released from rehab, but still plan to deal dope outside Mooby’s.
And so the merriment begins.
It is simultaneously impossible and unavoidable to compare “Clerks II” to the original “Clerks.” Smith, well known for keeping friends close in his productions, has assembled the whole gang again for this film. New faces step up to the counter as well, including the hilarious “Alias” geek boy Kevin Weisman playing a “Lord of the Rings” geek boy.
Some things about the production are different (such as the use of color film and the relatively large $5 million budget compared to the measly $27,000 budget of the original). However, most are the same. This is where Smith gets it right and hits it out of the park.
There’s a desire in Hollywood that when a sequel is made, things need to be shook up. For example, in “Rush Hour 2,” Chris Tucker went to China instead of Jackie Chan being the fish out of water in the U.S. However, Smith refuses to do this with “Clerks II,” making it almost a continuous link to the previous film in both tone and spirit. And that’s a good thing.
Fans of “Clerks” will get to see Randal spouting vulgarities and praising the “Star Wars” films. They’ll see Dante as weak-willed and insecure, still managing to get all the chicks in the movie nonetheless. The strength in this movie is the strong dialogue, situational comedy and chemistry among the cast. Oh, and the extreme shock value of the subject matter is there too. It’s not for the feint of heart, like ABC’s Joel Siegel. (Reports were that Siegel stormed out of the screening during a discussion of bestiality… which was probably better for him so he didn’t have to watch the payoff scene 45 minutes later.)
So is “Clerks II” as good as its predecessor? Not as good, but pretty doggoned close (or as Randal would say, pretty @%$#& close). It’s still a great little film with multiple laugh-out-loud moments, and it should go farther to solidify a new, young audience for Smith beyond anything else he’s done this century.
It really isn’t fair to compare this sequel to “Clerks,” which was so fresh and interesting and different that it truly broke the mold. But “Clerks II” is a worthy successor and worth a look if you know what you’re getting yourself into.