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Clerks III (review)

Produced by Liz Destro, Jordan Monsanto
Written and Directed by Kevin Smith
Starring Brian O’Halloran, Jeff Anderson,
Trevor Fehrman, Austin Zajur, Jason Mewes,
Rosario Dawson, Marilyn Ghigliotti, Kevin Smith

 

Let me start by saying I am a Kevin Smith guy and I have been for a long time.

We are basically the same age from basically the same place and we love basically the same things so I have always been a soft audience for him.

I liked Mallrats the first time I saw it.

I’ve also seen Kevin live three times. In addition to seeing him do stand up (really tell funny stories for 90 minutes), I saw a screening of the Jay & Silent Bob Reboot, and most recently the Convenience Tour screening of Clerks III followed by the Q & A.

Clerks III is a beautiful bittersweet end to the story of Dante Hicks (Brian O’Halloran) and Randal Graves (Jeff Anderson), the clerks we’ve been following since 1994.

During the Q & A Kevin Smith talked about making films that made us laugh or cringe or think, but the measure of a filmmaker is making a film that makes the audience feel. Then he teased us all for the tears we shed during the film. If you care about the characters that were born in his universe this film will hit you in the feels.

I’m not going to summarize the plot for you, but suffice it to say, it’s peak Kevin Smith and as meta as we could ask for as Clerks fans.

Rosario Dawson returns as Becky, Dante’s one true love, but unfortunately she’s only in a couple of scenes. When asked why she had such a limited role and the story points surrounding her, Kevin said, “I love Rosario and she’s the absolute best, but she’s a fucking Jedi now so her availability is extremely limited.”

In the end I think it was a good thing Ms. Ashoka Tano wasn’t available. The heartbeat of the story is the love and friendship of Dante & Randal, our hapless Clerks. This is one of the great things about Kevin Smith’s moviemaking. It is anti-toxic masculinity. It is a celebration of vulnerable loving friendships between men. Jay and Silent Bob refer to themselves as hetero life mates. Dante and Randal are very much the same. If Dawson had more availability, the story would have likely been focused very differently.

O’Halloran and Anderson admirably play our beloved duo for the third time.

They both deliver Smith’s complicated dialogue with the same ease and emotion they always have. This has been something that I feel has been completely overlooked at times. Smith writes in Sorkin-esque expository paragraphs and delivering such complex dialogue naturally and with the requisite emotion would stretch any actor. O’Halloran and Anderson do it with authenticity every time.

Kevin’s films have always been technically proficient and economical. As a writer/director that has bucked traditional financing paths he learned from the beginning to do more with less. He’s also has continuity on his team. Some people think that means he keeps his friends around, but in business, consistency matters and that his people continue to come to work with him again and again says a lot about who he is as a person. Bad leaders don’t inspire loyalty.

As Clerks III is very much a finale to the journey of Dante and Randal, we are treated to call backs, cameos and inside jokes and in many ways, the film feels like a family reunion as much as it is a feature. If you’re a Kevin Smith fan, a Clerks fan or a fan of great dialogue you’ll love this. I did.

In the end it was a perfect goodbye to Dante and Randall and a fitting end to the journey we started on together almost 30 years ago.

5 out of 5 stars.

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