I would venture a guess and say that most Kevin Smith fans won’t rank Clerks II above the original. However, in many respects it is a far better movie.
The budget, up from $27,000 to the neighborhood of five million, makes up for much that was lacking in the first. Notably the acting is far superior and the direction is even better (helming a few films since the first can do that to a director). The writing, of course, is all Kevin Smith circa 1999. The first one had some fantastic dialogue moments and a little bit of heart. This one has a lot of heart sprinkled lightly with some amazingly funny dialogue bits.
When the Quik Stop and RST Video stores burn down, our heroes, Dante and Randal, have to work at a fast food restaurant, Mooby’s (which wonderfully lampoons McDonald’s). Dante is heading off to Florida to start a new life with the girl of his dreams who’s just a tad too controlling and obviously doesn’t “get” Dante one iota. Randal isn’t really all that happy about it and the Mooby’s manager, Becky, seems to have some unresolved romantic feelings for Dante as well.
We get a few funny moments with the customers, but primarily the movie is all about the four major characters: Dante, Randall, Elias and Becky. Trevor Fehrman as Elias, the naive and geeky coworker, steals the show. His love for The Lord Of The Rings and his geeky excitement over the upcoming Transformers live-action film is hilarious. Fehrman delivers every line in the movie with complete sincerity and naivete. He elevated the writing on the page.
The other fantastic addition is Rosario Dawson, who makes both O’Halloran and Anderson look really good in their scenes together. Dancing on the roof to ABC, 123 in a tight tank top is easily one of the highlights of the flick. Plus, the dance number that results made me laugh.
The best choice was to keep the simplistic plot out of the way and focus primarily on the interaction between the characters. A movie that discusses pop culture touchstones such as Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, The Transformers, and Silence of the Lambs has got my movie money. Plus, nothing is off-limits to Smith’s characters: Anne Frank, Helen Keller, unnaturally large clits, ass-to-mouth, trolls living between a girl’s legs, the etymology of racial slurs, pickles up the ass, and finally, “interspecies erotica.” However, at the core of the movie that has a donkey show and one of the most hilarious LOTR vs SW banters ever is a touch of the Chasing Amy sweetness that was not quite there with Jersey Girl.
When I first heard about this sequel being made, I was worried Kevin was just going back to the well for a paycheck. I’m glad to report that I was worried for nothing. If you love Kevin Smith films (even Jersey Girl…) you will love this flick. One last note, this movie has one of the best soundtracks I’ve ever heard. I’m going to download it right now.