Well, I finally did it. I finally got round to watching Clerks. I’d seen Mallrats, Dogma and Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back before, but everyone told me that I needed to watch Clerks, the film where it all began. And you know what? They were right.
Clerks is one of those rare movies where it turns out to be exactly what everyone told you it would be. Often you hear varying opinions on films before seeing them, and usually you find yourself walking out thinking how wrong they were. I’ve walked into films which people had told me were brilliant, and walked out unimpressed (The Dark Knight). I’ve also seen films people told me were awful, and actually rather enjoyed myself watching them (Cloverfield). But Clerks, I was told by everyone, was hilariously written, and with some of the best characters and dialogue you’ve heard. But despite its near constant praise, it is never referred to as a “masterpiece”.
It’s the kind of film you can have the time of your life watching, and afterwards realise there was really nothing to it. It’s cheaply made and for the most part poorly acted, but that doesn’t matter – because when you’re in the moment, it’s an experience of a lifetime. Most of the dialogue seems completely genuine, with some of the conversations even reflecting discussions I’ve had myself (possibly even with people who had seen the movie and were under the impression we were paraphrasing the dialogue to each other). The idea of just shooting a movie based around 2 guys working in a store on a day when everything is going wrong for one of them is such a basic concept, it’s hard to believe you could make such an entertaining movie out of it, and yet Kevin Smith succeeded.
In many ways, it feels like the low budget of the film, $27,000, helped to make it as great as it is. Some of the actors are reused 3 or 4 times, either in various basic disguises, or only being shot from the back, and the locations are minimal. The scene in which the protagonists Dante and Randall (though I suppose it could be argued that in many ways Randall is the antagonist of the piece) visit a funeral parlour is completely absent from the movie, despite having been in the script, because presumably they couldn’t afford to rent out a space that looked like a funeral parlour and get a coffin. However, the way that the film embraced this lack of scene, and instead tells the story later, looking back on the event “Reservoir Dogs” style, is outstanding.
There’s not too much more I can say about the movie to be honest, any in-depth discussion into it will inevitably devolve into mere quoting, because it’s the dialogue that makes this film. Imagine if the opening scene of reservoir Dogs had spanned the entire movie – a film about a bunch of guys eating in a Diner, just discussing popular culture whilst events unfurl around them – and you’ll have an idea of the kind of movie Clerks is.
So, to sum up, if you haven’t seen Clerks, check it out – it’s definitely worth a watch. Clerks 2 wasn’t bad, either, though admittedly it doesn’t hold up when compared to the original. Still, worth a watch.
Good, solid movie that I would definitely recommend, although I do get the feeling that it won’t be very re-watchable, as you’ll probably have to forget most of what’s said and happens to enjoy watching it through again. Still, brilliant movie first time through, and very impressively done on such a small budget,