Originally released in 1994, Clerks marks Kevin Smith's movie debut both behind and in front (in the role of Silent Bob) of the camera, but I'm getting ahead of myself.
Clerks is the story of one day in the life of Dante Hicks, a worker at the Quick Stop convenience store. Very early one morning (on his day off) he gets a call to come in to work. After arriving at the store and starting to open up (and consequentially finding the stores shutters closed and the locks sealed up with gum) things start to go from bad to worse. Soon he finds out his ex girlfriend (for whom he still carries a flame) is about to get married, discovers some things about his current girlfriends' history that he'd rather not have known and finds an old friend has died unexpectedly and it's not even lunch time yet. His day is made worse by the relentlessly stupid and antagonistic customers who insist on visiting the store, as well as receiving unwelcome comments and criticisms from his friend and colleague Randal. Supposedly covering the video store next door, Randal has little time for customers and instead spends his time watching movies and hanging around the Quick Stop with Dante.
At first glance it doesn't look like it's going to be a pile of laughs does it? A cult classic, the movie has its good and bad sides. Kevin Smith's writing is pretty good, a mind crushingly boring premise has been used to good effect and the characters of Dante (Brian O'Halloran) and Randal (Jeff Anderson) work well together. Where the movie doesn't work so well is in some of the supporting characters. Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith himself) work ok (and, obviously, went on to star in their own movie) but other parts are filled by re-casting the same actor in different roles with one actor (Walter Flanagan) appearing in 4 different roles throughout the movie. The film further limits its appeal with vast amounts of swearing throughout. If bad language offends you, you are not going to like this movie. For the rest of us the movie's situations and gags work around 80% of the time with only a few points where the story seems to drag a little.No filmmaker probably wants their work labelled as “quirky” but here the tag really does fit the bill. The characters of Dante and Randal are first rate comic creations and could definitely be brought back for another story (the short story of “The Flying Car” included on the first disc is proof of this). Their dialogue is natural and sometimes hilarious and it's largely the relationship and interchange between the two leads that lifts the movie up to cult status.
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