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  Clerks II Second Serving
Year: 2006
Director: Kevin Smith
Stars: Brian O'Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Rosario Dawson, Trevor Fehrman, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Jennifer Swalbach, Zak Knutson, Kevin Weisman, Jason Lee, Earthquake, Wanda Sykes, Jake Richardson, Ethan Suplee, Ben Affleck
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: Ten years on, and Dante (Brian O'Halloran) is still working at the convenience store, but this morning when he goes to open up, there's a surprise waiting for him: the establishment is in flames. The fire department are called, but it's a lost cause and Dante stands outside the wreckage wondering what to do next when his friend Randal (Jeff Anderson) walks into the smoking ruins, then straight back out again looking confused. "Terrorists?" he asks Dante, then remembers he left the coffee pot on. One year after that, and things are different, yet somehow the same, with the duo working in fast food outlet Mooby's, but Dante doesn't want to spend the rest of his life doing that, so today is his last day in New Jersey: he going to move to Florida with his fiancée Emma (Jennifer Swalbach).

However, as with the first film, he still has choices to make even if everything seems mapped out for him. After the failure of straight romantic comedy Jersey Girl, writer and director Kevin Smith returned to more familiar territory, with all the personal disasters, off colour humour and pop culture references intact. Still, there's a more blatantly reflective tone to the film, with such obvious "What now?" scenes like montages of characters pondering their fate set to downbeat music. Rest assured, the laughs are still there, but it seems Smith wanted to tug the heartstrings as well.

And not only that, but this was his first foray into outright science fiction, as the doughy Dante's barely admitted love for his boss, Becky, is reciprocated. And his boss is played, in an "only in the movies" twist, by Rosario Dawson, a woman surely light years out of his class, but hey, you have to go with it, it's a comedy too, after all. Outside the restaurant some things never change and Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith), now on probation and out of rehab, are still selling drugs and generally hanging out with nothing better to do.

However, the central relationship is not really the romantic one, it's the partnership between Dante and Randal. Now old friends, even if Dante is constantly appalled by Randal's behaviour, it looks like they're about to be split up by Dante's domineering fiancée who thinks she knows what's best for him as he doesn't really have a clue. Now, when a film states at the start that there's going to be an upheaval in its main characters' lives, you can guess that things won't turn out the way they expect, but if the original Clerks was a comedy for Generation X in their twenties, the sequel tackles the tricky subject of their growing up and moving on - or at least settling down.

Still, there's the jokes to stop it getting too heavy, with digs at The Lord of Rings trilogy (not as good as the Star Wars one, naturally), but you wish Smith had gone further in that vein when that's what he's good at: Transformers, beloved of Mooby's underling Elias (Trevor Fehrman), is criticised, but there's no real memorable lines about it other than being compared to Go-Bots. However, the donkey sequence reminds us that this director can pull very funny setpiece out of the hat when needs be. Yet the sentiment is what takes precedence for the final act, and many guys hitting their pre-mid life crises may well sympathise with the problems of taking repsonsibility when they still want to have fun and talk shit. In the end, Clerks II offers a compromise that should satisfy, having its cake and eating it, but there are few who would begrudge the characters their peace of mind. Music by James L. Venable.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Kevin Smith  (1970 - )

American writer-director, by turns self-indulgent and hilarious. His first film Clerks brought him cult success, but he followed it with the big studio flop Mallrats. Chasing Amy was a return to form, and Dogma courted religious controversy. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back was a tribute to the double act who appeared in every one of his films up until then (Silent Bob was played by Smith himself). Jersey Girl was a conventional romantic comedy that disappointed most of his fans.

Smith is also a writer of comic books, both established characters (Daredevil, Green Arrow) and his own creations. An attempt to turn Clerks into a cartoon series was a failure - but it was damn funny all the same. Fans of the characters could console themselves with the sequel Clerks II. He then offered sex comedy Zack and Miri Make a Porno to mixed reviews, and Cop Out to downright terrible ones which led him to much public complaining. Self-proclaimed horror movie Red State, however, won him some of the best reactions of his career, though audiences were fewer in number.

 
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