Written and Directed by: Kevin Smith
Starring: Brian O’Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Rosario Dawson, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Trevor Fehrman, Jennifer Schwalbach Smith
Rated: Rated R for pervasive sexual and crude content including aberrant sexuality, strong language and some drug material.
Parental Notes: This is not a kids movie. Sure, Kevin Smith is a funny guy, but this takes the vulgarity of the original “Clerks” and pushes it to the next level. There’s discussion of various outrageous sex acts and a scene including bestiality. Mature teens can probably handle it, but this is a movie for grownups.
Just because they serve you, the first movie informed us, doesn’t mean they like you. Randal (Jeff Anderson) and Dante (Brian O’Halloran) are back in “Clerks II,” but as the film opens the Quick Stop and RST Video store building where they work is destroyed. Cut to a year later: they’re working at the fast food place Mooby’s, and it’s Randal’s last day. He’s become engaged to Emma (Jennifer Schwalbach Smith) and is moving with her down to Florida, leaving New Jersey and his old gang behind. “Clerks II” is the chronicle of that day and evening — much in the style of the first film.
There are a lot of things that could be said about the plot of the film, but you generally don’t go see a Kevin Smith movie for the plot. You go for the eccentric characters, the vulgar and hilarious dialog, and the delightful pop culture savvy. Those are all thankfully well-represented here, although a sheen of Hollywood polish has rubbed off on Smith in spite of his best efforts.
Randal and Dante are pretty much exactly as we left them at the end of the last movie, only now they’re in their early thirties. Randal is gleefully disgusting and aggravating, whether he’s insulting and hassling a “Lord of the Rings” to the point where the poor fellow vomits or scheduling a donkey show as a going-away present for Dante. Dante is still talking about starting the rest of his life and really doing something with himself — but he’s still shooting himself in the proverbial foot.
Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith) are still hanging out in front of Randal and Dante’s work, killing time and selling weed. Only now they’re clean and have found religion, courtesy of a six-month stint in rehab. Jay, true to form, is at once hysterically funny and somewhat disturbing — for example, we get to see him perform a spot-on re-enactment of the scene from “Silence of the Lambs” when Buffalo Bill is preening in front of the mirror. Silent Bob… well, he’s Silent Bob. Smith’s timing is perfect, as usual, and he’s the perfect straight man for his motor mouthed friend.
The new characters are classic Smith. Twitchy and naive Elias (Trevor Fehrman, “Cheats”) works with Dante and Randal, and is the constant butt of the latter’s jokes. He’s a fan of “Lord of the Rings” and “Transformers,” as well as a devout Christian. He’s a sweet guy, but unbelievably sheltered, and it’s hysterical to watch him try to cope with Randal’s incredibly foul nature. Becky (Rosario Dawson) is the manager at Mooby’s. She isn’t intimidated by Randal’s bluster, is fond of Elias, and has become very close friends with Dante. Emma isn’t terribly interesting, but then, she isn’t supposed to be. She’s essentially a plot device, a catalyst for Dante to get his life together.
“Clerks II” is not a movie for everyone. It’s gleefully vulgar, unapologetically crude, and packed to the brim with material sure to offend. Fans of Kevin Smith will want to see it, and while they may be annoyed by the polish experience and Hollywood time have brought to Smith’s work, they will likely enjoy seeing their old friends in action again. I certainly enjoyed it far more than I expected to, and I’m already fond of Smith’s work.