When Clerks II came out Brian O’Halloran was 37-years old. Jeff Anderson, rounding out the infamous duo, was 36. One begins to wonder, with Randall’s excessive potty mouth and juvenile sex jokes, if the two have overstayed their welcome. Over a decade earlier they embodied the early-20’s stagnancy with wit and charm but at first glance this sequel appears to be all jokes and only jokes from writer/director Kevin Smith. Perhaps he is over-compensating for the fact that his leads now occasionally evoke a cringing pity instead of the wry admiration from a decade prior.
Something clicks once again for these clerks, however. Smith’s infectious style focuses a bit more on straight humor and gut-busting laughs than the quieter smiles and wit of Clerks (a scene involving same-sex beastialty would be found no where in the original). The flagrant disregard for political correctness is simultaneously vulgar and refreshing. If one gag doesn’t hit its mark the next one surely will.
Rosario Dawson is a welcome addition to the bunch, fitting in perfectly with the mundane existence of Smith’s universe in what is honestly a fine screen performance. She and fellow newcomer Trevor Fehrman (playing twitching stuttering “Hobbit freak” Elias Grover) are probably the best two actors of the bunch, adding humor and warmth to the F-bomb laden burger joint.
Ultimately Clerks II overcomes its initial stumble out of the gate. Kevin Smith’s screenplay finds its footing and only strengthens as the film rolls on, becoming an organic thematic extension of the cult-classic original. “I’m not even in my 20’s anymore!” Dante says at a (slightly) more dramatic turning point. It’s about hitting that “30 something” age and still having no idea for a life plan, and it’s simultaneously about hitting that age and having an idea of what you “should” be doing. As vulgar as Clerks II is the three leads instill infectious warmth in us and Smith, after 5,000 F-words and 2,000 sex jokes, tells a great story about sticking tight to your friends and being who you are.
★★★★ out of 5