Friday, August 17, 2012
Clerks + Clerks II.
There are various ways to describe the style of Kevin Smith's Clerks and its unnecessary but entertaining sequel, Clerks II. Though not to avoid looking at it in its own right, I couldn't help but feel I was seeing a blend of Tarantino and early Woody Allen, an amalgam that actually works really well. As Tarantino takes you behind scenes of criminals and shows you what happens when nothing is really happening, Smith does the same with a couple of New Jersey clerks. The dose Allen's brand of comedy is also present in the characters' derogatory sense of humor and their tendency for impromptu slapstick (i.e. the famous rooftop hockey game). The Clerks universe is in a way an ode to fan boys stuck at lousy jobs who seem incapable of living their dreams. There's absolutely nothing impressive about the people that occupy Smith's world, and yet he's a good enough writer that he can take these obvious types and turn them into people we care about. And that's actually pretty impressive, because store clerks in movies never get much attention, and when they do they're objects more than they are characters. The Clerks movies are rude and offensive, yet Smith doesn't seem to be trying to cross lines so much as present things as they are. The only time I felt he was going overboard is the infamous scene in Clerks II that's not even worth mentioning, let alone watching. In the end I enjoyed these films, and yet, while Smith makes us empathize with the clerks, this overall lifestyle we see in depth can only have so many pop culture references and character conflicts. The shallowness of the Clerks universe represents the shallowness of these types of people in real life. They make good company for a while, but it doesn't last.