Clerks III has been a long-time coming from Director/Writer Kevin Smith. It’s a deeply personal film that likely caps off the series for good. Through the whole thing, this isn’t as nearly straight-comedy as the previous two films. At points, it verges into melodrama but always stays true to itself and true to the heart of the series. That works in its favor because this isn’t just someone trying to regain the fervor of their youth, this is about growing older, and how that affects people. Clerks III stars Brian O’Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Trevor Fehrman, Kevin Smith, Jason Mewes, Rosario Dawson, and features plenty of cameos from friends and family of Kevin Smith.
The film doesn’t rest on its laurels though. Kevin Smith could have just gone out and done another Clerks film that was similar to the first two, and tons of people would have gone out to see it. No, this time, he went full into his own trauma and emotion stemming from his own heart attack and brush with death to give us a weighty, and powerfully emotional story for the two titular Clerks from all the way back in 1994.
That isn’t to say that the film doesn’t have plenty of laughs though. They’re sprinkled throughout, but the ending of the film really hits like a ton of bricks compared to the rest. You will not be leaving this film with dry eyes, let me just say that.
The Story Of Clerks III
Clerks III sees Randal and Dante back at the Quick Stop Grocery mart doing the same thing they’ve been doing since the last film. Except for this time, there are major changes in both of their lives. They’ve grown up, sort of. They’ve also gone through some personal turmoil, especially when it comes to family life. Jay and Silent Bob own the building next door and they’re selling weed and also have the video store still running, technically. The movie opens like any other day, Dante and Randal argue about pop culture, Elias comes in with his Jesus/Christian-themed Cryptocurrency, except for one thing, Randal has a heart attack. The horrific kind.
It’s here that Randal realizes his own mortality, and after some absolutely hilarious scenes involving Amy Sedaris as a Doctor and Justin Long as a Nurse, Dante suggests to Randal that he actually make a movie, instead of just talking about them all the time. From here, it sort of follows what likely would have happened with Kevin Smith and his making of Clerks. Along the way, old characters come back, they have an audition (complete with plenty of cameo appearances), and the cracks between Randal and Dante start to show. Dante is doing more work than he wants to on the film and Randal is engrossed in the work.
That’s all the story you really need to know going into it. This is part Clerks and part a movie about making movies. The scenes involving the making of Randal’s movie are among the funniest of the bunch, but they’re sandwiched by Dante recognizing horrible things that have happened to him. This makes for a sort of uneven tone to the film, but it doesn’t rear its head until later on.
Kevin Smith Tells A Personal Story
Through it all, this is a deeply personal movie for Kevin Smith. You can see it all over the film, it’s about his relationships, his brush with death, his family, and his trauma. It’s all presented really well and the writing is very sharp but the movie takes an insane turn right at the end. It verges into melodrama and I’m not entirely sure that they needed to end it the way it did. Without spoiling it, the ending is incredibly sad and depressing.
It’s an entire movie about rekindling your life after a traumatic event and it just ends with an equally traumatic event. For something that you would think would end up being triumphant, it’s instead depressing. It might have to do with one of the characters needing to recognize a true loss to achieve a goal, but the way it’s presented and with the tone of the rest of the film, it sticks out.
That being said, the weight and power of the performances on display during the truly depressing parts are great. Jeff Anderson and Brian O’Halloran capture some of that youthful energy, but they also know when to dial it back for the scenes where they’re wrestling with growing older. Jay and Silent Bob are eternal teenagers and they do a lot of the heavy lifting with the comedy during the middle and later sections of the film.
A Love Letter To Clerks And Filmmaking
I love a movie about filmmaking. There’s nothing like making your own movie and doing it your way. That’s part of what makes Clerks III a fun watch, but it’s also seeing the passage of time, and the effect of traumatic events on people. Kevin Smith poured his heart and soul into this film and it shows. A truly dark ending still won’t take the luster off Clerks III. It’s well worth a watch, especially if you’re a fan of Kevin Smith and the previous two films. As a “trilogy” it caps it off and stick around until the end of the credits for a nice message from Kevin Smith.
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