Anthony's Film Review

Clerks (1994)

Even with essentially no story, Clerks keeps itself amusing through funny and memorable dialogue...

If I were a film school instructor grading student films, I would certainly give a passing grade for Kevin Smith's Clerks. The film may be a low-budget production, and has to be if Smith was just starting out, but it works because the characters are quite amusing despite the lack of story and production value. It's amazing to see that a film like this could have great reception from the mainstream audience upon theater release. For any aspiring filmmaker attempting a breakout hit with whatever he or she has got, Clerks may serve as an inspiration.

Although the production aspects are not important, I'm still inclined to give you an idea of what the film looks like. First off, it's black and white. It also utilizes long continuous camera shots. Expect to see plenty of scenes that are filmed continuously in one long stationary shot. That includes dialogue between two characters. Sometimes, there are two characters talking but the camera moves back and forth between them, always focusing on the active speaker. Otherwise, the only point of this technical overview is to demonstrate that one can still make an interesting movie no matter what equipment is available.

Clerks, as the title suggests, is about two store clerks. One is a convenience store clerk named Dante Hicks (Brian O'Halloran) and the other is a video store clerk named Randal Graves (Jeff Anderson). Both are slacking off because their managers aren't around. In fact, Dante's manager took off somewhere and expects Dante to cancel his day off and cover the store. The film illustrates a typical day in the life of these guys, which includes weird customers, their personal lives with friends and girlfriends, random chit-chat, and even a hockey game on the convenience store roof. Why a hockey game on a roof? Because Dante's original plan was to play hockey if it weren't for the manager cancelling his day off.

Surprisingly, plenty of the scenes made me smile or laugh. Dante has an argument with his girlfriend about how much they've cheated with each other and the number of past sexual partners. Randal hangs out with Dante in the convenience store, talking about Return of the Jedi with a funny comment about the Death Star in that movie. Dante is accused of selling cigarettes to a four-year-old girl. There are even two drug addicts named Jay and Silent Bob, who would become popular in Kevin Smith's later films. Perhaps the funniest of all is when Dante's girlfriend attempts to have sex with him in the convenience store restroom only to discover what she really did in there.

I was impressed by Kevin Smith's ability to focus a lot on making these characters interesting. He clearly did not let budget limitations stop him. Clerks is a quality independent film, not just a comedy, and it launched the director into the world of Hollywood. At this point, you might wonder why I didn't go into too much detail about Jay and Silent Bob. I could, but I'm saving that for my reviews of their later film appearances, made possible by the success of Clerks.

Anthony's Rating:

For more information about Clerks, visit the Internet Movie Database.


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