(Check out the list so far)
The Movie: Clerks (1994)
One Sentence Plot Summary: Dante Hicks is the worst person (and biggest idiot) ever, and he doesn’t deserve either of the women romantically interested in him.
Why It’s on the List: It’s weird to write about and discuss a Kevin Smith movie in 2010 because a lot of his recent output has not only been bad but embarrassing. I took a significant other to see Tusk IN THEATERS. She should have broken up with me then. The first movie of Smith’s I watched was Mallrats. I then went on a run of seeing his entire filmography up to that point, which also included Chasing Amy and Dogma. Months later, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back came out and it’s felt like a precipitous drop ever since.*
*The problematic section for this movie would be longer than the actual review
Clerks is probably the only Kevin Smith movie I can still watch and get some enjoyment out of it, especially compared to Chasing Amy and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. There are some fairly entertaining pop culture conversations that occur. I also get a kick out of the random customers and the complaints the main characters have about them. I also frequently quote some very specific (and inappropriate) dialogue.
I always wonder what would have happened if Smith had stuck by killing Dante as he originally intended. Would that have been the end of the View Askewverse before it fully started? I firmly believe that Kevin Smith provided me an introduction to the world of independent film. My guess is that this was an introduction for many people. The 1990s were a wild time in independent cinema, a time just before YouTube and digital filmmaking made things a lot easier. He’s fortunate in a lot of ways because of his middle class New Jersey lifestyle. However, he’s also provided a lot of laughs in his time.*
*If An Evening with Kevin Smith was an actual movie, it would be on this list.
*Dante might be the worst protagonist in history. He slut shames Veronica for sucking 37 dicks (slut shames Kaitlyn too) while also flirting with the idea of becoming romantically involved with an ex before, during, and after this moment. He complains about his job and does nothing to better his situation. He does work in the store, leading to Randal selling cigarettes to a borderline toddler. Then there’s his awful taste in sweaters and his ex-girlfriend having sex with a dead man because he’s not paying attention. No wonder he proclaimed himself the biggest idiot ever in the animated series.
*Randal refers to homosexuality as deviant behavior.
MVP: Kevin Smith put a lot of debt on his credit cards to make this movie. He made a movie that was both hilarious and had some poignancy. There are many aspects of this movie that have not aged well, but he managed to capture a very specific time period in the 1990s. There are legitimate critiques to be made about the technical aspects and some of the acting, but he made this happen for himself and has been able to generate a career for himself for nearly 30 years. Considering him a filmmaker at this point is absurd, but he continues to maintain a devoted fanbase and has created a very popular podcasting network. It all began here, and he deserves a lot of credit for this movie and beyond.
Best Performance: None of the performances are exactly great compared to a lot of the other movies on the list, so I’m just going to go with Jeff Anderson. Randal isn’t a great person either but compared to Dante, he at least isn’t manipulating two other people , wearing awful sweaters, and bitching about not having to be some place else. Anderson had a complicated relationship with Kevin Smith and hasn’t had a lot of work outside of these movies. Both Dante and Randal seem to be different facets of Smith’s personality, and Randal is at least funny.
Best Quote: “This job would be great if it wasn’t for the fucking customers.” – Randal
Is there a sequel? Both a sequel and animated series.
How are they? I like Clerks II for what it is. It’s probably Kevin Smith’s last good movie. The animated series has some very good moments (and some problematic ones involving the WNBA and LGBTQ issues).