As a film student who’s looking to make successful films one day, Clerks is one of those movies that I look at and say to myself, “This is possible. The story concerning how Clerks was made is almost as good as the actual film. It’s a very important movie to me and a testament that if you love what you do, you’re already one step ahead of everyone else.
Dante (Brian O’Halloran) is a convenience store clerk who gets called into work on his day off and reluctantly goes in. Luckily, his friend Randal (Jeff Anderson) works at the video store next door, but spends most of his time at the food store. Throughout the day, these two clerks come in contact with the usual annoying and stupid customers, learn that Dante’s ex-girlfriend, Caitlin (Lisa Spoonhauer), is getting married, play hockey on the roof, and get harassed by the local drug dealers, Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith).
What is the real driving force of the film is its dialogue. Kevin Smith showed with his first outing in the film world that he is a proficient crafter of dialogue that is both strange and hilarious. I would be easy to see how a lot of people would be critical of this film, other than the dialogue. The camera work is less than stellar. At one point there is a scene of dialogue that goes on for 5 minutes without the camera cutting. This would be great, normally, because I love long takes, but this shot had no action other than two characters standing next to each other and talking.The acting is also not very good. Brian O’Halloran is believable, but the rest of the cast aren’t very good, and deliver their lines in a very unnatural way. Again, this would be a major issue if the dialogue itself weren’t as great as it was.
Another great aspect of Clerks is how relatable it is for anyone who has ever had to deal with consumers and their many annoying idiosyncrasies. There were times throughout the movie that I thought to myself, “A lot of people would think that this is too crazy too happen.” From my own experience, I know that nothing is too crazy. This makes the viewing of this even more personal, because I know exactly where Kevin Smith is coming from on his commentary of the consumer lifestyle and attitude.
There are those who say that Clerks is over rated based solely upon the acting and the cheap look of the film. I respect their opinion, but what they need to realize is how much of a miracle this movie was to be released and how Kevin Smith showed that not every classic has to have a huge budget and big named actors. What makes this film memorable is how sharp the societal critique all while maintaining itself as an intelligent comedy.
Along with films like El Mariachi, Clerks just goes to show that if a film maker has enough passion for what they are doing, then their movie can be a success. This film goes down as one of my favorite cult movies and gets better every time I watch it. There’s something in it for everyone to enjoy, especially people who have worked in retail and understand just how much of a pain in the ass it really is.