Clerks
***.5 BM
Starring: Brian O'Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Lisa Spoonhauer, Marilyn Ghigliotti

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BIAS ALERT: I'm a Kevin Smith fan. I like what he's about, I like his writing style, and I like most of the jokes he puts in his script. That tends to color my opinion of his slick-assed fast-food Persian-bazaar manner. I also have a special sentimental attachment to this film, as I spent my twenty-first birthday getting blitzed and watching this film with a friend of mine that's a real-life Dante Hicks. Yes, I'm a party animal.

That said, his breakthrough film is mainly notable because it was cheaply made and the only real "breakthrough" to be found is in the writing. It's a fun film with comical characters - a day in the life of a couple of schmucks jockeying registers at a convenience store/video rental complex - but everyone has to admit that it isn't that good a film. What saves it is the obvious good intentions abounding - the script has a lot of intelligence and comedy jokes, and dwelling on the lives of these guys everyone takes for granted is worth the effort. The problem lies in the execution.

The acting isn't very good, but when you're taking a bunch of rookies and making them deliver dialog that no one would ever actually say, it makes things even more dicey. The editing is a bit sloppy and some of the cinematography leaves a bit to be desired (on the DVD, Randal opening the door to a word balloon that says "I Eat Cock!" was ruined because it was impossible to read the writing, and c'mon, man... that's a crime. I wanna see the I Eat Cock!), but you've gotta chalk all that up to rookie filmmakers doing things as cheaply as possible - it's mostly forgivable, and the black-and-white footage really worked to emphasize the dreary nature of their thankless clerkwork.

This is the upside of this "View Askewniverse" that Kevin Smith movies have created - it's a parallel world, much like the one John Waters lives in. It's a place where every throwaway piece of dialog is actually a mini-rant, where aimless schmucks with monotonous deliveries have a barrage of witty rejoinders and oh-by-the-way philosophical ramblings at the ready, and a couple of pothead wastoids can help save the world. Taking all of this into account, it's easy to take each film with a grain of salt and enjoy it for what it is, and you always get the sense that ol' Kev is aware of the drawbacks and is pushing through anyway. But since "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" is supposed to be the last film that takes place in this world... it puts the pressure on to clean up the clunky, oddball style and take the next step up. Or not... either way, I'll be around to check out what he does, because he's amused the piss out of me so far.

Just the SIGHT of Jason Mewes makes me laugh. That's always a plus.

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