Kevin Smith goes back to his roots for some service with a smile
By Devin D. O’Leary
Directed by Kevin Smith
Cast: Brian O'Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Rosario Dawson
It’s hard to call Clerks II “comfort food.” Any film that features explicit discussions about the mating habits of hobbits, ATM sex (use the internet if you have to) and good, old-fashioned bestiality ... sorry, inter-species erotica doesn’t exactly fit the standard definition of “comfortable.” Nonetheless, Kevin Smith’s gleefully smut-mouthed return to form, Clerks II, feels like mom’s cooking, an old high school friend and your favorite childhood toy all rolled into one.
After Smith’s self-confessed Hollywood misstep, the ill-fated romantic comedy Jersey Girl, the writer/director/actor decided it was time to return to his roots. And return he did, writing and directing (and starring in, of course) a follow-up to his micro-budgeted indie debut, Clerks. Fans well-versed in Smith’s “Askewniverse” (Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back) will be like pigs rolling in poop over Clerks II.
The film picks up a decade or so after the first outing. Our slacktastic heroes Dante (Brian O’Halloran) and Randal (Jeff Anderson) are 10 years older, but not necessarily 10 years wiser. No longer working at the infamous Quick Stop convenience store (only because it burned down), the duo find themselves McJobbing it at Mooby’s, a low-rent burger joint introduced to the Askewniverse in Dogma.
While Randal continues his ceaseless rants against stupid customers and anyone who would dare question the sacrosanct nature of Star Wars, Dante is making an effort at least to assume some mantle of adulthood. He’s engaged to an attractive blonde and is about to abandon New Jersey for the sunny climate of Florida, where he will be operating a car wash for his fiancée's father. No, it doesn’t sound all that promising; but in this world, it’s the equivalent of being named Donald Trump’s apprentice.
Upset that his best friend and partner in crime is bugging out, Randal is determined to make his pal’s last day at work a memorable one. Elements in this nonstop parade of laughs include a “Transformers”-loving fry cook (the hilariously dorky Trevor Fehrman), a newly on-the-wagon drug dealer (Jason Mewes, off the heroin and feeling spunky) and a sexy-cool fast-food manager (red-hot Rosario Dawson, Sin City) and, of course, a sex-crazed donkey.
Though it follows largely the same pattern, Clerks II boasts just slightly more storyline than Clerks. Amid the cripplingly funny discussions of sex, race and movie franchises, there are some wise insights into growing up, accepting responsibility and finding your place in this big old world. I guess you could call this a coming-of-age tale--assuming you come of age in your early 30s following a prolonged period of arrested development in which you spend your waking hours watching movies, reading comic books and talking about sex. ... Does Kevin Smith know his audience or what?
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