After narrowly surviving a massive heart attack, Randal enlists his old friend Dante to help him make a movie immortalizing their youthful days at the little convenience store that started it all.
The name itself can send shivers down your spine, for better or worse. If you’re reading this review, you know who the man is. He is a living legend, mixing rowdy, crude pop-culture soliloquies with palatable emotional beats that would make every screenwriter jealous. Watching his earlier work, it still gives hope to the common man that anyone can be a filmmaker. Cause if this dude could then what’s my excuse, right?
So yes, I am a Kevin Smith apologist, even when he’s bitten off more than he could chew in terms of storytelling, I give him a pass. Plus, the guy has become sort of my stoner uncle with his Smodcastempire. If you would hijack my car with me in it, myradio would be blasting one of his podcasts. It pains me to say that Clerks III, his epic closure of the trilogy that started it all is sadly one of his lesser joints.
I was ready to love this movie and for the first five minutes, I thought I would, with an opening montage cut with the song “Welcome to the Black Parade”, introducing us to the world of “Clerks’, and once again and catching up with Dante and Randal, the lovable miscreants from Quick Stop and where they were up to. It’s solid, emotional and really upbeat. The fact that I’ve watched these guys through my life and now they’re almost in their fifties was a complete mindfuck.
Then the movie started and something was off. Almost as if I was watching a Robert Zemeckis mo-cap movie, where the CGI models are lively, but behind the eyes there was nothing. The monologues are there but weaker, the effort is clearly showing and these actors are giving it all, but the jokes were falling flat. I was starting to dread the next half-hour.
When Randall starts to have his heart attack, famously based on Smith’s own the movie begins to take shape and the tracks were starting to get put on the train so to speak. He’s going to make a movie based on his life and he’s taking everyone with him. But the storytelling gets trampled by Smith’s lack of editing finesse and cinematography prowess, which is bizarre to say cause if you look at his previous movies, his shot composition and editing are not great, but it was passable. This movie on the other hand, feels like an expensive home movie. Not a professional made one. See, this is the bad thing about shooting digital, just because you could shoot something with no light, doesn’t mean you should.
And it’s even more crushing to write about this because I bet you dollars to donuts that in script form, this movie read gloriously. There are some scenes in here where it explores some crushing emotional depths, that these two friends are about to hit the breaking point and you’re just waiting for the inevitable. That these are people that have never moved on with their life and are permanently stuck in a place where everyone else have moved one but themselves. But again, the movie fails to express that in a satisfying or even competent way.
I do want to point out that the movie does not end in a way that you expect and kudos for Smith to even attempt it. There’s this closing monologue that one of the characters brings that was heart-wrenching and is another high-point. But as soon as the movie ended, I thought: “Clerks II” did it so much better.”
In the end, would I recommend this to a casual movie fan? No. This is strictly for the initiated, the Kevin Smith cinematic universe members, the ones which read and listen to what this man says every week and enjoy his musings. The ones like me who were there in the beginning before the podcasts and saw his genius. If you find the movie enjoyable, to each his own and they are some things in here that are worthwhile. Might even say essential.
But in 2012, he was going to retire from making movies. After: “Yoga Hosiers”, “Jay and Silent Bob Reboot” and now this?
We’ll see what the future holds.