Reviews of Clerks (1994) and related work

Clerks (1994Moving picture, 92 minutes)

A bad day in the life of two clerks, one of them minding a convenience store and the other a video rental place in the same building.

An iconic independent film, suicidally crafted at night in the convenience store where the director worked in the daytime. Briefly rated NC-17 just because of the dialogue: a black and sexually crude comedy, neatly combining good absurdist humour with rebellious social criticism and anguish.

This film started a series containing a small number of diegetic shared elements, mainly the setting of (northern) New Jersey and two drug dealers named Jay and Silent Bob. The latter is played by the director, in part because he put himself deeply into debt to make this movie and wanted his own face on the screen to have something to show for ruining his life. There are also many more general recurring themes and motifs in the View-Askewniverse franchise, like comic-book references.

moving picture fiction

Mallrats (1995Moving picture, 94 minutes)

A different pair of college-age guys are dumped the day before Clerks takes place and decide to mope in the local mall.

Slightly more visually risqué, but a lighter comedy. Bad acting.

moving picture prequel fiction

Chasing Amy (1997Moving picture, 113 minutes)

Three comics artists get involved in an attempted love affair: One man courts a lesbian but is hindered by a second man (his inker), culminating in a grand questioning of sexual orientation.

More serious, a progressive romcom of sorts. Silent Bob acts as the fount of disillusioned authorial romantic wisdom again, at far greater length than in Clerks, which contributes to a sense of egotistic excess.

moving picture spin-off fiction

Dogma (1999Moving picture, 130 minutes)

Two banished angels come up with a plan to prove the Catholic Yahweh wrong. That would destroy the assumption of infallibility that has sustained the universe, so the last descendant of the Christ is taken from her abortion clinic and sent on a quest to save Creation.

A successful step in a new direction: Epic religious satire. The satire as such is weak, failing to condemn its subject.

References here: Angels in America (2003).

moving picture spin-off fiction

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001Moving picture, 104 minutes)

Jay and Silent Bob are suddenly forbidden from selling drugs outside the old convenience store, but they soon find a new purpose in life. A Hollywood movie is to be made about two comic-book characters (created in part by Holden, the main character of Chasing Amy, but) based on the (former) dealers, who consequently travel to Hollywood to get their fair share of the money and end the Internet mudslinging.

One long in-joke. The franchise record-holder in incoherence.

moving picture spin-off fiction

Clerks II (2006Moving picture, 97 minutes)

Randal accidentally sets the Quick Stop on fire. He and Dante get an equally dead-end job at a fast food restaurant.

Black comedy. Adds nothing. By this point the core characters are so atypical as to remove whatever hint of social consciousness may have existed in the original, and the Lord of the Rings vs. Star Wars “debate” is painfully forced.

moving picture sequel fiction