Directed by: Kevin Smith
Premise: After working at a fast food restaurant for a year, Dante (Brian O’Halloran) plans to move away from Jersey with his fiancé (Jennifer Schwalbach Smith) but he is caught up in complicated relationships with friend Randal (Jeff Anderson) and restaurant owner Becky (Rosario Dawson).
What Works: The film will be fun for those who enjoyed the original Clerks. In some ways the film is more of a remake than a sequel, as it mirrors a lot of the same gags and situations from the original film, but has been able to put a lot more production value into them. In the second half, the picture is able to present some new themes and new situations and the climax to Clerks II is extremely well executed as the various narrative strains come together in a chaotic disaster that is one of Smith’s best moments as a writer.
What Doesn’t: Clerks II suffers from the same problems as its predecessor. The film features Smith’s characteristically snappy, gross out dialogue and references to other films. Unlike Smith’s other work, however, the act feels tired. For instance, Clerks II makes a running gag out of the infamous dancing scene from The Silence of the Lambs, and while it works for a brief one-scene joke, the continued reference to an obscure moment from a film that is sixteen years old runs thin very quickly. An ironic problem in this film is the cinematography. Long been criticized for having shoddy and static camera work, Smith overuses camera movement, or uses it unnecessarily and it becomes distracting in a few places during the film. The ending, although a satisfying conclusion for the Randal-Dante storyline, feels tagged on, as though it should have been a movie in and of itself.
Bottom Line: Overall, Clerks II feels like a step back for Smith, who had allegedly put these characters to bed with Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and then had taken a step forward with Jersey Girl. Clerks II is funny and on the most basic entertainment level it will satisfy fans of Smith’s raunchy humor. As a sequel, however, it is somewhat disappointing and smells of—dare I say it?—selling out.
Episode: #106 (August 13, 2006)