“Clerks III” is directed by Kevin Smith (Mallrats, Dogma) who also appears in the movie once again as Silent Bob. Joining Smith on his latest “Clerks” outing are stars including Brian O’Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Trevor Fehrman, Austin Zajur, Jason Mewes, and Rosario Dawson. When Quick Stop employee Randall survives a heart attack, he decides he wants to do something with his life and make a movie. What’s the movie? Well, think of it as another version of “Clerks.” With the help of colleagues along with Jay and Silent Bob, they all come together to make a movie based on Randall’s life and experiences.
Hollywood has a tendency to celebrate itself from one movie to the next. This has been done through Damien Chazelle’s “La La Land,” Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” and the trend does not seem to be stopping anytime soon as we’re getting more movies of this sort like “Babylon.” That movie is, coincidentally, also directed by Damien Chazelle. Some of these movies have proven to be industry and award season darlings, which is why it is interesting to see that Kevin Smith is almost going for another approach with this. Kevin Smith has been part of “the industry” for years. As of a few years ago, he officially has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. But compared to other individuals, he doesn’t feel like a part of the industry. He often wears a part of New Jersey on his sleeve, his ego is not over the top, and compared to say the recently mentioned Tarantino, his track record with critics is not the best.
In fact, when I did my list of the worst movies of the 2010s, “Copout,” which released early on in the decade, ended up making the list.
But it does not change the way I feel about Kevin Smith as a personality. I met him at a comic con, and I can genuinely say he is the nicest guy I have talked to in this industry. Smith is an avid pop culture geek, extremely humble, and even though critics say he cannot make a movie, he has shown to be appreciative of the art. When it comes to the first two “Clerks” movies, I enjoyed both of them. Both are relatable and funny. I still think about the “Lord of the Rings” storyline joke in the second movie on a regular basis. As an aspiring filmmaker, I look up to to people like Christopher Nolan for his auteur-like traits. But in the back of my mind, I want to maintain the same sense of humility and spirit that Kevin Smith has possessed all these years. I did not know what to expect going into “Clerks III,” but I paid $20 for a Fathom Events ticket because I wanted to support the movie.
Having seen this film, it is probably my favorite “Clerks” installment, partially because of its shift from the other two.
While this film serves a proper sequel to both “Clerks” and “Clerks II,” “Clerks III” shows how much the franchise has evolved with each outing. From the first to the second movie we go from shooting in black and white to shooting in color. What’s the big shift in the third movie? Things get comparatively serious.
Kevin Smith based “Clerks” on his time in New Jersey and working behind counters. That stays true in “Clerks III,” but Kevin Smith has grown up since making his first feature back in the 1990s, therefore it feels natural that the franchise grows up too. This story would have never happened if in addition to the two “Clerks” movies, Kevin Smith never had a serious heart attack in 2017. The attack nearly killed him, but he has since made adjustments to his life, and now he is using his life experience to make “Clerks III” happen. This is a surprisingly sentimental and personal story that tugs at the heartstrings as much as it busts the gut. When it comes to emotional, mature storytelling, I do not often put that thought alongside Kevin Smith. Sure, the movie still has its series of silly shenanigans like a goofy line out of Jay or an occasional joke about drugs or private parts. Although in between that, it is ultimately a story about friendship. It is about people who stick by each other even in the toughest of times.
“Clerks III” feels like a love letter to filmmaking in the same way that “The Disaster Artist” was. Because that movie chronicled a film that would have been doomed to fail if it were not for its insane cult following. While “The Disaster Artist” based its story on the making of a movie that actually happened, “Clerks III” pays tribute to what the franchise has already provided while offering an unfamiliar, but most certainly welcome, sentimentality.
“Clerks III” feels like this year’s “Bill & Ted Face the Music.” It is a sequel to two movies that despite their charm, are not exactly Oscar-worthy, but come loaded with entertainment value. Both of the franchise’s third installments keep that same entertainment value, but also come off as a slightly, and I do mean slightly, more mature variant of what came before.
If you are a fan of Kevin Smith’s work over the years, there are particular scenes that could resonate with you. My favorite part of the film is when Randall’s movie is in pre-production and they are trying to find the right people for the right roles. This brings out a great number of Kevin Smith’s colleagues, friends, and a few other celebrities who I am quite surprised managed to take time to be in a movie like this. I will not say any names, as I did not know any of these going in, but the audition montage alone was worth the $20 I paid to see this movie. If you are looking for cameos, Smith’s got em. And they are all here!
Although there is one big name in this movie that I would like to reveal, and that is Amy Sedaris (At Home with Amy Sedaris, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt). Amy Sedaris not only plays a cardiothorasic surgeon, she kills the part in every way. Every line out of Amy Sedaris is delivered with a sprinkle of flair and I cannot see anyone else playing this part except for her. Also, there is a particular exchange between her and Randall that caught my attention. For those of you who remember “The Martian,” there is a scene featuring Sean Bean of “Lord of the Rings” fame, and his character has to explain what Project Elrond is to a group of people. To those who do not know, Project Elrond is the secret meeting in “Lord of the Rings.” Attentive “Star Wars” fans, most notably those who are familiar with “The Mandalorian,” may be able to notice a reversal of this in “Clerks III.”
To spoil the ending of “Clerks III” would be like spoiling the ending to a lot of movies, it would ruin the grand effect of what’s to come. Although if I had to give my quick thoughts on the ending of “Clerks III,” I would say that it is one that I would not have predicted, but it is definitely earned. There is a particular moment between Randall and Dante that hit me. It feels weird to say because I am not that attached to these characters. From start to finish, I only saw both “Clerks” movies once. I liked both, but nevertheless. But these characters have a moment together that adds up and delivered the feels. There is more to the ending, and it nearly feels choppy, but it is a kind of choppiness that I was willing to appreciate.
If I had to give my biggest problem with the film, it weirdly enough has to do with one of my positives. The drama. There is a fundamental shift between the characters in the film in terms of how they view each other and their current situations. While I appreciate the fact that for the most part, this film goes for drama, and succeeds, this is the one blunder. This shift feels seismic to the point where I could not buy it. Maybe if it were written differently, it would have been executed better. Maybe less dialogue, maybe different words. But there is a hot second in the movie that has a moment of tension that almost feels forced.
Even so, “Clerks III” is a funny yet heartwarming conclusion to a trilogy that started nearly thirty years ago. There is a saying in that you should write what you know. And that is what Kevin Smith did. He took what may have been the worst situation of his entire life, and now he is telling what could be his most emotional story yet.
In the end, “Clerks III” is a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy that mostly blends comedy and drama to an admirable degree. Kevin Smith movies always provide a likable vibe, even if it is not up to the caliber of say a Spielberg flick. The “Clerks” movies look cheap, but have occasional moments that feel like a million bucks. With “Clerks III,” Smith arguably hit the jackpot. When it comes to pure fun, there are few other movies this year that were able to deliver what this movie did for me. “Clerks III” is not my favorite movie of the year, but when it comes to genuine good times, there is are few rivals in terms of 2022’s cinematic calendar. I am going to give “Clerks III” a 7/10.
“Clerks III” is playing in theatres for a limited time and is going on tour across the United States and Canada! For those who live in certain areas, Kevin Smith will be bringing the movie to a city near you like Los Angeles, Chicago, or Montreal. For tickets and more info on “Clerks III: The Convenience Tour,” visit clerks3.movie/roadshow.
Thanks for reading this review! Guess what guys? My next post is going to be very special because I will be reaching 600 posts on Scene Before! Per usual, I will be doing a long-winded update on my Blu-ray collection. That video will also be available on my YouTube channel, but I will be sharing said video here as the 600th post for those who read my blog. If you want to see more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Clerks III?” What did you think about it? Or, did you see the other two “Clerks” films? Tell me your thoughts on those! Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!