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Movie Review: Clerks II

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Do you ever stop to wonder if all the decisions you’ve made over the past twelve years were the right ones? Did they put you on the right path? Did you end up where you thought you would? Perhaps you disagree with John Lennon when he says, “there isn’t anywhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be.”

In Clerks II we catch up with Dante Hicks (Brian O'Halloran) and his pal Randall (Jeff Anderson) twelve years after we last saw them, working at the Quick Stop and wondering what life had to offer them. What are they doing now? The same thing — that is, until a fire in the opening scene forces them to do something else. What do they decide to do? Lacking any other experience they decide to become clerks at a local fast food restaurant called Mooby’s.

Unhappy with the situation, Dante decides he wants something else. He wants what other 33-year-olds have — a wife, kids, a house, and a good job. He almost has these things. He’s on the verge of leaving Mooby’s, Randall, and New Jersey far behind. What’s the catch? Marrying a controlling woman and being on the take from the woman’s parents — in essence exchanging freedom for possessions.

Clerks II does a great job of philosophizing about what makes us happy. Is it marriage, money, a career, prestige? Or is it just finding something you don’t mind doing and hanging out with your friends? Is one really better than the other?

So Clerks II examines some of life’s eternal questions, but did I also mention it’s hilarious? It is. It’s just about as funny as the first one, but maybe not as shocking. You know why it’s not as shocking? Clerks raised the bar for the bawdiest of bawdy talk in an R rated movie. It almost became the first movie to be given an NC-17 for language alone.

Seeing Clerks II took me straight back to seeing the first one in 1994. It was a time when people looked at you funny if you carried around a cell phone, the Internet was still for computer geeks, and setting up an email account was more complicated than my calculus exam. I was a film student at the time, so seeing the movie was practically required. I remember how exciting it was at the time. The movie was low budget, with unknown actors using language seldom heard in mainstream cinema, yet it was getting tons of attention from critics.

So Kevin Smith set up an empire based around the characters he created and is probably one of the better-known directors today. And I’m not making movies. At least I can write about them. I can’t say whether Kevin Smith agrees with John Lennon or not. At first glance I might say no, but then again maybe he does.

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About Sherry Lipp

Sherry Lipp is an entertainment and food writer who specializes in film and television reviews. She has published the gluten and grain-free cookbook Don't Skip Dessert.
  • Ty

    I thought the movie was good, but I had an issue with Emma Bunting.

    She should NOT have been played by Jennifer Schwalbach, who conveniently dropped the “-Smith” we saw in her credit for Jay & Silent Bob Strikes Back.

    She is cute, but in the movie she looked god-awful, and not believable as Dante’s early 30’s fiance. She should have been someone who isn’t Mrs. Kevin Smith AND a “name.” It probably would have helped box office numbers.

    M. Night showed his ego by making himself a bigger role in Lady in the Water, and Kevin Smith showed HIS ego by casting his wife in Clerks II.