GREAT COMEDY - 92/100
Directed by: Kevin Smith
Produced by: Scott Mosier and Kevin Smith
Written by: Kevin Smith
Starring: Brian O'Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Marilyn Ghigliotti, Lisa Spoonauer, Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith
Studio: View Askew Productions and Miramax Films
Release date: October 19, 1994
Box office: $3.2 million
Clerks. is an independent comedy from Kevin Smith, released in 1994. It is quite possibly the most independent film ever made. Famously, the filmmaker and his friends had to max out all of their credit cards to finance the filming of the picture. But it paid off, because Clerks. has gone down in history as one of the most important indie films of all time. Cementing low-budget film making in the mainstream.
The plot is simple, almost too simple. Dante and Randal are two clerks running the Quick Stop Convenience and RST Video Stores, in a quiet suburb of New Jersey. Dante was called into work on his day off, and has compounding issues throughout the day. We get to focus on his struggle to maintain order at the Quick Stop, play hockey, go to a wake and balance his love life. All while his best friend and coworker, Randal commentates from the sidelines. We are also introduced to Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith), two cheebed-up drug dealers that loiter outside of both stores and thread together the bulk of Smith's work.
Clerks. is the beginning of Kevin Smith's View Askewniverse and the best example of the strengths in his work. It's a tremendous comedy that has more relatability than most other films. The tight, black-and-white static shots of our characters talking makes up a good 85% of the picture. And that style makes it more comforting and familiar. That style is what keeps it so relevant with young people today.
Jeff Anderson (Randall) and Brian O’Halloran (Dante) feel so natural as buddies. A scene featuring their back-and-forth about Star Wars’ independent contractors dying is a perfect example of Smith's top notch writing. The acting slips up quite a bit, but it's forgivable. The films charm far outweighs the negative and graphic conversations. It's too good to give any focus to the negative cracks.
Clerks, Pulp Fiction and Swingers shaped cinema for me in the nineties. It blew my mind open to the possibility that my friends and I could express ourselves artistically without it being a financially impossible task. Clerks speaks to everyone and it's inspired so many. If you are a fan of comedy, or just a fan of cinema in general. Then I implore you to check this out. It's a wonderful movie and a shining example of what Kevin Smith can do.