Brian O’Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Trevor Fehrman, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Rosario Dawson, Marilyn Ghigliotti, Austin Zajur and Jennifer Schwalbach Smith
Dante, Elias, and Jay and Silent Bob are enlisted by Randal after a heart attack to make a movie about the convenience store that started it all.
Twenty-eight years ago, Kevin Smith made his directorial feature debut with the low-budget indie comedy Clerks. Twelve years later, we would eventually get the followup sequel released in cinemas. Now, after sixteen years, Kevin Smith returns to the Quick Stop one last time as we find Dante and Randal still running the convenience store, yet still pretty much themselves, locking up shop to have hockey games up in the roof, whilst Jay and Silent Bob have moved from outdoor to next store, running a legal marijuana dispensary where the video rental store used to be. However, their usual day at the Quick Stop takes a drastic turn when Randal has a heart attack. Having faced almost certain death, Randal is determined to make something of his life instead of watching movies…by making his own movie.
Kevin Smith is a filmmaker that I’ve admired for quite some time, particularly with the story of how he made Clerks and how he remains to be one of the more humble guys in Hollywood, as it were. Returning to the characters that helped make his career, there’s an immediate feeling of being ‘home’ as it were during the opening sequence to My Chemical Romance’s ‘Welcome To The Black Parade’, seeing Dante arrive to open up the Quick Shop, to the queue growing extensively as Dante, Randal and their friends continue to play hockey on the roof of the store. The humour in the film is what you’d come to expect based of the original and it’s sequel (particularly more in vein of the latter) in dick and weed jokes, and whilst the film is more self-masturbatory than usual, even by Smith’s standards, there is a emotional weight and heart to this film that I was genuinely not expecting.
Taking his own experiences of his well documented heart attack, Smith not only recreates it here through Randal, but he has both he and Dante tackle their own mortality, with Randal looking to seek meaning and creating with the time he has left, while Dante on the other hand has lost his meaning due to tragedy and this gives Jeff Anderson and Brian O’Halloran dramatic material to work with, and the pair still have a great rapport with one another. Jeff Anderson is still hilarious in delivering his comedic monologues, from his drug-induced operation at the hospital, and does well with the dramatic side in his fear of death. Brian O’Halloran meanwhile surprised me with his performance during his sub-plot and he has a particular monologue scene here that he delivers with gusto, I didn’t know he had it in him.
Oddly the film works best when it handles the dramatic scenes, whilst the comedic material I found to be uneven. There’s still a good number of laughs here and there, but there’s some that didn’t work for me. I liked Trevor Fehrman’s performance as Elias Grover in Clerks II, but here I felt that they tried too much to push him on providing the comedic relief, though he himself has one solid dramatic scene. Rosario Dawson is also good with her performance as Becky Scott, though I’m still not sure how I feel about how her character was handled. Kevin Smith has always been meta with his films, though some may think he will have gone too far with having the characters make a movie of essentially the first film.
While the comedy might be uneven, Clerks III works best at providing a dramatic conclusion to life at the Quick Stop. Definitely Kevin Smith’s most meta and personal film to date.
CLERKS III IS CURRENTLY AVAILABLE ON DIGITAL PLATFORMS (PRIME VIDEO/ APPLE TV+/ GOOGLE PLAY/ MICROSOFT STORE/ SKY STORE/ RAKUTEN TV) AND WILL BECOME AVAILABLE ON DVD AND BLU-RAY ON THE 26TH DECEMBER 2022.