Running Time: 92 minutes
Starring: Brian O’Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Marilyn Ghigliotti
Directed By: Kevin Smith
Rating: 8 out of 10
This is the story and lives of two convenience store workers as they go about their daily jobs.
I understand why people go all six to midnight when discussing Quinton Tarantino and his mastery of dialogue. What I don’t understand is why most people never mention Kevin Smith on that same level. While Clerks may not be his funniest work it certainly is his best in my mind and that is achieved through its brilliant dialogue. Clerks is the simple story of Dante and Randal. Dante runs a convenience store and Randal runs the adjoining movie rental store. This film follows them as they run their stores during the course of one day.
This movie just worked on every level for me. From its pink collar theme to its absurd characters I thought this movie was genius. Following the day and life of Dante and Randal is as entertaining as it gets. A quick introduction to the underachieving Dante and we find ourselves opening the convenience store with him. A little later a totally slacking Randal emerges to open the next door movie store. I am not sure if I liked this movie so much because I used to work in retail or because it is so well written (Most likely a combination.) Either way this film is mesmerizing. What this film basically breaks down into is the day and the life of a lowly retail worker. You follow Dante as he deals with the dregs of terrible and eclectic customers in a small town. You also follow Randal whose abuse and disdain of the customers is a hilarious watch. Dante is the straighter laced character that most people can relate to. Although he might not take pride in his occupation he still wants to do a decent job with it. Randal is what most everyone wants to be as he says what most people are thinking and somehow gets away with it. The film is at its best though when the pair of them just talk about life. Topics like relationships, sex, working acumen, movies, and anything else you can think of gets bandied about between them and you will just appreciate the amazing if not always deep discussions.
Dante is played by Brian O’Halloran and Randal is played by Jeff Anderson. While they might not be the best actors out there it doesn’t detract from the film. There is something about their open and honest performances that you can get immersed quite easily in. Would this film have worked with well known actors? Probably not. It is something in their not so easy relationship that is believable. They also should be commended for long scenes of unedited dialogue. They do well on their own but the chemistry while chatting between these polar opposite characters is undeniable. The rest of the cast deliver believable and interesting performances. From muscle bound jocks, to drug dealers, to angry customers this film is a bevy of small town characters that fit perfectly into the fold.
As the film progresses you will start to really like Dante for his underdog role and you will like Randal for being a dick. They are opinionated and hilarious and that is what makes this film so appealing. Sure there is low brow humor but this film is all about the dialogue. Closing the store to play hockey on the roof or to attend a funeral may not be on the list of typical convenience store happenings. Never the less though it just seems right. As the film comes to a shocking end involving Dante and a couple of his love interests, you will come to realize you loved most of these characters in this film for their individual charms and unique personalities (be it low brow or not).
Director and writer Kevin Smith has put forth a fantastic little film in his debut. Choosing to shoot it in black and white only adds to the charm. It is funny with its odd and sometimes irreverent characters. The long scenes of unedited dialogue are masterful and the casting even more so. While the film could be funnier I still felt it had enough of a comical edge to keep most typical comedy lovers interested. This is just a great shot film on a shoestring budget and kudos to Mr. Smith.
I recommend this film to everyone looking for a different comedy with great dialogue.
T Factor + If you like Kevin Smith films then this could score higher on the rating scale.
T Factor – If you like main stream comedy then this could score lower on the rating scale.
If you liked this film reel recommendations: Chasing Amy, Mallrats