A Film Review By Jason L. King
| Starring: Rosario Dawson, Kevin Smith, Jason Mewes, Jeff Anderson
Directed By: Kevin Smith
Rated: R for lewd sexual content and language
Review Posted: August 11, 2006
Ben Affleck summed up Kevin Smith’s career in 2001 and most of us had no idea. In the film Jay and Silent Bob Strike back, Smith wrote some witty banter between Ben Affleck and Matt Damon as they were filming the fictional film, Good Will Hunting 2: Hunting Season. Affleck stated the following: “You’re like a child. What’ve I been telling you? You gotta do the safe picture. Then you can do the art picture. But then sometimes you gotta do the payback picture because your friend says you owe him. And sometimes, you have to go back to the well.” After the success of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, director Kevin Smith promised to put to rest the his black trench coat and focus on some more serious films. He tried by casting Affleck in Jersey Girl, a film that is a great little film, but imploded when the J’lo and Affleck overexposure hit the world. Kevin’s “art” picture alienated himself from his loyal fan base who were expecting a raunchy film and got a heartfelt piece instead, and critics panned the film because hating Affleck was the hip thing to do at the time. Just like some people can’t get over Vietnam, some people just can’t get over Reindeer Games! (But Affleck was the bomb in Phantoms, yo!) None the less, the defeated Director dug back out his black trench coat to reprise the Silent Bob role that made him famous. Smith headed back to the well and penned a second installment in the Clerks franchise, the indie film that made him a success.
Clerks 2 picks up years later with the same two characters, Dante and Randall, two middle aged Clerks who work a dead end job at a local convenience store. But when a tragic fire burns down their store, the two take on jobs working at Mooby’s restaurant (a McDonald’s like burger joint). Dante, a little more matured since the first film, is in engaged and is heading off to Florida with the love of his life, but not with out one more day of crazy events with his old pal, Randall Graves.
Smith will tell you that he has always had the idea for Clerks 2 in his head, and just never penned it. While some may believe this, you really got to wonder if this is the payback picture he’s making to appease the Weinstien’s after the failure of Jersey Girl. Smith seemed to have taken on this film half heartedly, and it shows. The film is full of stale jokes, and outlandish situations that almost make a mockery of the first film. The movie is so over the top, it makes you wonder if Smith has lost his touch. He seems to be grasping for straws, anything to shamelessly promote himself and to exploit his previous fame to get back on track.
Don’t get me wrong though, Clerks 2 has it’s definite perks. Once again, Randall (Jeff Anderson) gets some of the funniest lines in the film, and his slacker character gets to do what he does best: Trash on everyone and everything. Nothing is sacred territory for Anderson as he is given witty dialog about everything from the Lord of the Rings movies, Star Wars, Donkey Shows and his reclaiming of the phrase “Porch Monkey” for the white man. The film is raunchy crude and full of lewd jokes, but that’s what we have come to expect from Kevin Smith. Nothing is sacred, and you need to take it with a light heart. Smith has always had over inflated dialog about everyday things, and isn’t afraid to speak his mind. Clerks 2 is no exception to the rule. However in this film, the message seems muddled. It’s overshadowed by the Hollywood feeling and over the top stupidity that make this film fall flat on it’s face.
As a Kevin Smith fan, I find it very hard to find fault in this film, but as a critic I know it is there. The film is Clerks for those people who hated the original. The subtleties of life are over looked, and Smith goes for more shock value than anything else. But make no mistake, millions of Viewaskew fans will head to the theaters to check this one out, and it will end up on many of their DVD shelves. The film will grow on them with time, but it many will hail it as Kevin’s worst film. Now that Kevin has got it out of his system and done the safe picture, here’s to hoping that he tries something new on his next go round.