***** Kind of Spoilery*****
Clerks III tells the story of Randall and Dante, two men in their forties as Randall deals with the effects of a heart attack, and Dante has to deal Randall as he tries to make his mark on this world.
This is a film by the one and only Kevin Smith, and it has all the trappings of a Kevin Smith movie, but it hit me in a way I’d not have expected from a Kevin Smith film. Yes there are the jokes about drugs and suspect tales of sexual adventures. But there is also a depth to it that I’ve not seen from a Kevin Smith before.
This movie clearly takes even more from Kevin Smith’s personal experiences than his other works. I feel like the Clerks films in general do that, but I felt it more in this one. It’s not that he hits you over the head with it, I don’t really think Kevin Smith does that. It’s knowing a little about his life and him as a person and you can see where that comes into this story.
I don’t know much about Kevin Smith outside of his movies and some of his social media, but it feels like both Dante and Randell are two sides of him. Maybe they’re turned up to eleven, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case.
The story focuses around Randell making a movie which he films at the convenience store that he and Randell own. (there’s some good little nods to the original Clerks film here). Randell does this in a very uniquely Randell way, and Dante has to do all the actual hard work. Around this though is the struggle that Dante is going through due to how his life has changed since the events of Clerks II. This isn’t just Dante waiting for life to hand him something like in previous movies. The struggle he is going through is portrayed by Brian O’Halloran without any filters. You see him pushed to his limits a number of times, and each one you feel. This is one thing that hasn’t really changed, Randell driving Dante up the wall! And Jeff Anderson as Randell just nails it. I’ve heard him on commentary tracks and I don’t think he is anywhere near that annoying, so he really pulls it out of the hat to show how much Randell can get under Dante’s skin.
There are twists and turns, and some very interesting editing choices that I think in lesser hands would have ruined the movie. A few call backs and a plot thread or two that give options for how the movie could end. How Smith builds up the ending is not only a work of art, it’s heartbreaking. I didn’t see it coming, I don’t think I would have figured it out in a million years.
Now, this is a Kevin Smith movie. So there are all the familiar faces. He has his stable of actors who either appear in all his films or come in for a brief scene and that’s it. Smith finds a way to get a lot of these folks in the movie nicely, and in this scene there’s a few faces that I hadn’t seen in a Smith film before. There’s fan service here, but you don’t need to be well versed in Smith’s work to appreciate it.
If you’ve not seen any of these films, I’d recommend checking them out. From a writers point of view they are great to study. There’s a lot that Smith does that I’ve learnt and tried to put into my work.
Clerks III is one of the best films I’ve seen in the last few years.