Movie Review #724
Directed by Kevin Smith. Written by Kevin Smith. Produced by Scott Mosier and Kevin Smith for Miramax Films, presented by View Askew Productions. Starring Brian O’Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Marilyn Ghigliotti, Lisa Spoonauer, Jason Mewes, and Kevin Smith. Premiered at Sundance Film Festival in January 1994. Distributed by Miramax Films, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, New Vision Films, and UPLINK Company in limited release on October 19, 1994. Rated R on appeal: extensive use of extremely explicit sex-related dialogue. Runs 92 minutes. Alternate versions run 87 minutes and 102 minutes.
There’s a thing I really love about movies, more than just about anything, and that’s dialogue. Come on, admit it: when a movie is well-written, it’s a really good movie. Am I right or am I right? “Clerks.” succeeds immensely thanks to Kevin Smith’s dialogue. The movie’s filled with it, and seriously, the man’s a wordsmith. Everything from the VHS order scene to the Return of the Jedi debate to the very last, surprisingly philosophical scene is pure gold. Smith is technically an amateur, and I guess it shows in how silly this movie really is. But essentially, he’s representing the zeitgeist of the ’90s youth culture with every move he makes.
“Clerks.” was shot on a very modest budget of $27,575. The black and white you see was pretty much forced, but Kevin Smith and the gang make their way around this by delivering conversation as melodrama. It’s in the costume of a fifties movie, get it? It’s surprisingly how effectively the pack pulls this off, because you don’t need to look very closely to figure out that this isn’t a fifties movie. It’s more nineties than any other low-budget nineties movie, with its shaky camera, punk rock soundtrack, and foul mouthed characters.
Everything here is just so hard not to laugh at. (Or laugh with. I’m really not sure which one applies, and it may as well be both.) Considering the plot, the story has more cinematic value than it really deserves. All this really is is a sketch comedy, which, as far as I’m concerned, is the same thing as a 90-minute sitcom. It’s a day in the life film illustrating the misadventures of a convenience store clerk, and at about the midway point, the lack of plot begins to grow obvious. But by the end, the segments seen to tie together in a clean knot. At this point, the film gives its characters not on a philosophical level, demonstrating the most common pathological fear known to mankind; that a single day could be bad enough to destroy the remainder of one’s life. “Clerks.” presents a great load of humor in situations that we can all relate to. If that’s the kind of film we deal with, it’s proof that the micro-budget film isn’t always just an Ed Wood movie rotting in the gaol cells of the public domain.
CLERKS. IS AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY, DVD, AND VHS.