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'Clerks II' **** 080106
The Work = ****
While writing this review I will have to go into some spoilers so this is your warning, *****SPOILERS AHEAD*****
'Clerks II' starts with a short and simple transition from the black and white world of the first film to the color one of this film. From there the movie sits with its two antiheroes Dante Hicks (Brian O’Halloran) and Randal Graves (Jeff Anderson) as they start a workday at their McDonald’s-like fast food restaurant Mooby’s. Not far into their workday the best two additions to the ' Clerks' universe show up.
The first is Dante and Randal’s supervisor: Becky, played by the talented Rosario Dawson. Sometime if you get the chance try watching some of Dawson’s filmography. She has been in a slew of movies playing a variety of roles, always good, always believable, and always fitting into her projects. (Try 'Sin City', 'Alexander', '25th Hour', 'Shattered Glass' and 'Sidewalks of New York' for a few. I don’t always like the movies ('Alexander' was a trying experience) but she is always good in them.)
The Second addition is Trevor Fehrman as the much picked on Elias. Fehrman is wonderful as Elias and does an amazing job at making a character that I laughed at but also empathized with and was concerned for. Fehrman just clicks with Smith’s dialogue and is awesome with the rest of the crew, particularly Anderson. I have never seen him in a film before but looking over his filmography I found that his last film was one directed by Anderson. I’m guessing that role brought him in for an audition and the rest was history. Elias has some of the funniest moments in the movie and those who have sat through ' Clerks II' will know what I am talking about: I’ll just say it involves Elias’s sex life. That scene is a perfect example of how well Smith can set up comedy within his film.
Contrary to what he says, Smith is not a bad director; he is just not a particularly stylish one. Yes, moments in some of his films could have been handled better but he had to find a comfortable directing style. The same could be said of the early works of many directors who have come before Smith. That is what is important to remember: Smith learned as he went, it was a total trial by fire. (Just watch the excellent documentary included with the special edition of 'Clerks' to see about that.) Now, with 'Clerks II' he shows he can direct a solid movie and has no excuse to play down his abilities. It will be interesting to see if he challenges himself and makes a more stylish film down the road.
'Clerks II' follows Dante as he prepares to leave New Jersey (and Randal) behind to get married and move to Florida. In an earlier post I questioned Smith in casting his wife Jennifer in the film. It would seem I was wrong as she does a good job as Dante’s fiancé Emma. Dante and Emma are on their way to getting married and just watching them together shouts that there may be dangerous waters ahead for the couple.
What trouble is in store and how it plays out I will leave you to discover but I will say that there are surprises, laughs, lots of foul language (and several surprisingly touching moments.) If there are some downsides to the film it is probably that some of the moments and reveals in the last quarter of the film might have strengthened 'Clerks II' if they had come a bit sooner. Also there is a prison scene that goes on a bit too long and well there is the racist and demeaning language, uttered mostly by the misguided and distraught Dante.
******END OF SPOILERS****
In closing I must mention, one last time, the language in 'Clerks II'. It should be to no ones surprise that it is extreme. However it is possible to walk into the film and be a little bit taken aback by what some of the characters say. I took my girlfriend to see the film (she had not seen the first 'Clerks') and there were several gasps of shock when Randal went off on a tirade early in the film. The thing is though, if you stick with the film (as she did,) it is, in fact, a sweet, well made story of love and friendship. The film is also a fitting sequel to 'Clerks'. Be aware, lots of foul language ahead but this one is still highly recommended!
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