Clerks III

Clerks III features writer/director Kevin Smith “returning to the well” to follow up with everyone’s favourite perturbed convenience store employees, Dante and Randal.

Brian O’Halloran and Jeff Anderson reprise their signature roles, joined by a colourful cast of new and returning characters, to bring closure to this segment of Smith’s View Askewniverse.  Much like Kevin Smith did with Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, although the goofy stoners show up in this instalment as well.  In retrospect, as carried away as Jay and Silent Bob Reboot may have been with its meta humour (essentially remaking 2001’s Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back), it seems as though Smith needed to experiment with the approach in order to figure out how to use the same silliness to tell a more poignant story and acknowledge his own affirmations – channeled through characters that share similar if not identical epiphanies.

Smith’s health scare in 2018 is experienced by Randal (Anderson), who suffers a critical heart attack while working at the Quick Stop.  If you’re a hanger-on to Smith’s public storytelling, you’ll notice that most of Randal’s dialogue with hospital staff (amusing extended cameos by Justin Long and Amy Sedaris) is verbatim to how Smith recaps the memory – jokes and all.  Perhaps a bit repetitive for Smith’s loyal fanbase, but seeing it reenacted through the skeptical and sarcastic mouthpiece of Anderson’s performance gives the experience a fresh enough spin.  Likewise for other bits sprinkled throughout the movie that are drawn from real-life parallels.

After Randal’s scare, he decides to chase a dream before it’s too late – he wants to make a movie set entirely inside a convenience store that chronicles day-to-day life.  It’s a movie that will star his friends, and lift material from eccentric customers.  Smith, with unabashed glory, uses the making-of 1994’s Clerks to build the central plot of Clerks III and, again, this is a lot of fun for Kevin Smith fans.  Just when I concluded that the filmmaker’s life and career couldn’t be reviewed from any other angle (after writing about the doc Clerk), I stand corrected.  Fan service aside though, and even if the viewer doesn’t know anything about the movie’s outspoken filmmaker, Clerks III is still a good time for those who enjoy stories about ragtag filmmaking.

Clerks III rings reminiscent of 2015’s crowd-pleasing indie Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (especially its bittersweet ending that left me surprisingly misty-eyed) but, even so, Clerks III is the ideal final piece to this hallmark slacker trilogy.  It’s a satisfying finale to an arc that started with rebellion and ended with learning how to prioritize perspectives with few compromises while maintaining integrity (or humour).  The primary story between Dante and Randal has wrapped up but, who knows, we may see these characters appear….somewhere – you never know.  In the case of Kevin Smith’s filmography, we can’t predict anything anymore.


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