Clerks

1994, Movie, R, 92 mins

Review

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This sourly amusing farce about suburban slackers is a lowball bid on the minimum production values needed to put across an independent first feature. Dante (Brian O'Halloran), who looks like a cranky Charlie Sheen in a Vandyke beard, is the proprietor of a convenience store in Asbury Park, NJ. Make that inconvenience store, since Dante's working life, an unending stream of minor atrocities, is a prolonged slow burn. Dante's best friend Randal (Jeff Anderson) mans the video store next door, and spends his time ordering titles like HAPPY SCRAPPY HERO PUP and BEST OF BOTH WORLDS, a compilation of hermaphrodite porn. Their (considerable) downtime is spent in earnest debate over monumentally trivial issues, though a narrative of sorts does eventually unfold in a series of arch blackouts.

Some of the aimless dialogue is very sharp among these lumpen bourgeoisie, who've got wit and intellect to spare, but little in the way of education, ambition, or opportunity. ("There's nothing more exhilarating than pointing out the shortcomings of others, is there?" notes Randal.) Director Kevin Smith billboards his influences, cheekily thanking Hal Hartley, Richard Linklater, Spike Lee, and Jim Jarmusch in the closing crawl. Unlike his models, however, Smith hasn't demonstrated that his sensibility reaches much beyond bathroom humor and meaningless drift. It might have been more accurate to invoke that other Mt. Rushmore of Gen-X taste: Ren, Stimpy, Beavis and Butt-head. leave a comment

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