|Rating: The Good – 77.2
Duration: 98 mins
Director: Kevin Smith
Stars: Brian O’Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Rosario Dawson
“I hope that donkey doesn’t have a heinie troll!” Who would have thought Kevin Smith’s most emotional and outrageous film could be one and the same? Given the fact that sequels to unexpected hit films are almost always stale rehashes of the first film, one could’ve expected this to go the same way. Happily, Clerks II joins a small band of sequels that rise to the level of the original. Smith makes all the right moves as he brings every main character back from Clerks (rule number one which most sequels are forced to break) and introduces new secondary characters who are given more room to grow than the secondary characters in the first film. The plot also allows his main characters to justifiably be faced with the same daily dilemmas so they never feel like shadows of their past selves. This precludes any melancholic “lost times” vibe which defines many sequels. Instead we have exactly what it says on the tin: “Clerks II″. There is a fast food restaurant instead of the quick-stop and a new romantic dilemma for Dante as he must choose between the always excellent Rosario Dawson and his fiancée (played by Smith’s real life wife Jennifer) who wants to move to Florida. Randal is also faced with more serious issues as he contemplates losing his best friend for real.
However, while the overall framework is similar, what allows Clerks II to succeed is that it avoids trying to compete with its predecessor which was fueled by the independent verve of the 90’s and instead takes an entirely different tack. Thus, the surgical and insightful college humour of the original is replaced with a coarse and outrageous comedy. It was a risky move and not everyone will approve but it allows the film to stand on its own and out of the looming shadow of one of independent cinema’s great comedies. And in judging it on its own merits, one must acknowledge that Clerks II make you laugh and in some cases, hysterically so.
There are naturally some strengths shared with the original. Brian O’Halloran is again flawless in his portrayal of Dante managing to be funny and completely likable throughout while Jeff Anderson as Randal is perhaps even funnier than he was in Clerks. As he was in the first film, he is the beating heart of this film’s comedy and he carries that task with ease. In particular, he works very well with Trevor Fehrman who does well as the naive (though sometimes overbearing) Elias. Jay and Silent Bob are also on hand five years on from their own epic adventure and instead of being wheeled in like an old joke they burst from the screen in one of their funniest performances (that Silence of the Lambs bit will have tears rolling from your eyes).
But as the comedy climaxes (no pun intended) in the most outrageous way imaginable (seriously) and you’re just managing to catch your breath, the true emotional punch of this film is delivered as Dante and Randal finally come to terms with their relationship and their own transitions. Even Jay and Silent Bob have moved on in this film and while none of the characters are less the funnier for it, they have changed. These are characters who Smith’s own generation of fans have grown up with and as Smith waves farewell to them he is firmly nodding in the direction of those fans as Dante, Randal, Jay, and Silent Bob and even Smith himself become as identifiable to those fans as ever. A masterclass in comedic reflection.© Copyright 2012 Derek D, All rights Reserved. Written For: movieshrink.com