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Clerks III

****
2022

‘…Clerks III is an unexpectedly sweet and poignant movie that should reward those who have taken any part of this journey with Kevin Smith…’

Kevin Smith wraps up his trilogy of films about life in a humble New Jersey bodega with Clerks III coming almost three decades after the original convenience story Clerks in 1994. Since then, Smith has had plenty of high-profile ups and downs, with his cinematic output limited to Yoga Hosers and Tusk, a messy sequel in his Jay and Silent Bob franchise, plus a huge heart attack in 2018 that he was lucky to survive. The writer/director/producer may have found himself increasingly narrowcasting to fans only as he went along, but Clerks III is an unexpectedly sweet and poignant movie that should reward those who have taken any part of this journey with Kevin Smith.

We start of on a vigorous high, re-introducing the View Askew universe to the thumping sound of My Chemical Romance and their anthem Welcome to the Black Parade. We dive back into the rather inconvenient way of making a living that is shop-keeping, and see Dante (Brian O’Halloran) and Randall (Jeff Anderson) back behind the counter. An argument with a local Christian crypto-club member that covers everything from butt thieves to kites to AOC leads Jeff to a heart attack, but a judgemental surgeon (Amy Sedaris) puts Jeff on the mend (‘keeping you alive is good for my brand’ she says.). With a fresh drive for finding artistic meaning, Jeff decides, as Smith once did, to make a movie about the convenience story world, and enlists Dante, Jay, Silent Bob and the other regular characters to pitch in; Ben Affleck and some SNL cast-members provide cameos as randos who just want to be involved.

Jeff’s transformation to a ‘strip-mall Soderberg’ provides plenty of opportunity for reflexive, meta comedy allowing Smith to rework the iconic first movie as Jeff shoots his own version of the film that started the whole shebang; think series four of Seinfeld, and you’ll have the right idea. Smith’s aspirations may be humble, but his dialogue is still funny; it’s worth prizing notions like bringing Star Wars up to date with ‘Gran Torino Luke Skywalker’ or describing crypto as ‘lets pretend Matrix money’. Other wordplay is reassuringly of the moment; ‘Look at all this lack of f***ing diversity’ one character notes of the largely white cast (although Rosario Dawson does bring her character back from the dead) and there’s a self-deprecating gag about an ‘Asian design’ student that lands. And its nice to see Jason Mewes looking tanned and healthy after all these years, looking good on sobriety.

‘You think you deserve a movie. All you ever did was watch them. And mock them…’ complains Dante, and he’s right; Kevin Smith seems to love movies so much that the ones he makes turn out to be small, personal and straight-up honest. Perhaps it’s a positive that, like his characters, the third Clerks movie shows Smith right back where he started, but also there’s a sustained warmth and maturity here that was intermittent in his previous films. Clerks III might not chime with those who don’t already know Smith, but for those already bought in to his view askew, this is a welcome return to his best form, and well worth staying for the closing anecdote over the closing credits.

Thanks to Lionsgate for advance access to this title. Clerks III is previewing this week (Tues 13th and Thus 15th Sept in the US) and in UK cinemas from 13 September 2022

#Clerks3 @lionsgateuk

Comments

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    • I didn’t think the second film had enough going for it, and Smith’s other projects have been fairly undisciplined. But he shows previously unknown depth and care here, in amongst the usual wild gags. Pleasant surprise…

    • While it might be faint praise to say that this is a reprise of Clerks, that’s no bad thing. I think this is better than all of the bove, and a neat companion piece to Clerks. Actually, I think you’re even more of a Smith fan than I am, so I think you’ll enjoy this. Smith can be fairly agonising when he over-indulges himself, but he seems to have sobered up his approach, and this one has a deft touch that we’ve not really seen since Clerks. Actually, I could make a case for Jersey Girl, but I’m not sure anyone would be willing to hear it…

  1. I watched a Kevin Smith film once (I think it was the jay and silent bob sequel/reboot/whatever) and vowed to never voluntarily watch anything by him again.
    This film is all yours….

  2. I really don’t know. Loved the first movie, and didn’t think Smith did anything else as good. The trailer looks awful and killed any sense of anticipation I had.

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