The simple plot follows two slackers in their early 20s who spend the day at their minimum wage jobs (a convenience store and an adjacent video store) dealing with a cadre of colorful customers and loiterers, chatting about pop culture, and riffing on their jobs, people (especially customers they dislike), and their own lackluster lives.
Dante is reluctantly their on his day off, and half-hardheartedly tries to make the best of it. Randal is his best friend, and openly mocks what he does and the people he has to deal with. They are a good match together, and it is a joy watching them hang out and talk. As if the oddball customers and loiterers (especially drug dealers Jay and Silent Bob) weren't enough of an issue, Dante has to also deal with an ongoing fight with his girlfriend Veronica, and the temptation to get back together with his ex-flame Caitlin.
Seeing this when I was around the age of the characters, and working at a place where it was easy to bitch about it and the customers, I was easily able to identify with this film, and take much influence from it. Now that I'm older, and somewhat wiser and more mature, my feelings towards this film have mellowed some, but not completely.
Most of this holds up pretty well, though some of it is a tad dated. The optimist in me would say that this adds to the charm, especially since I'm a fan of Gen X, slacker-related stuff, and dig on early 90s style and aesthetics. As a first feature, and given the limitations (mostly budgetary), I'd say Smith was pretty successful at making the most of what he had, despite the fact that some of the film is pretty rough around the edges, and a tad aimless and meandering once in a while.
I think the writing is still quite sharp, funny, realistic, and insightful. For a couple of foul-mouthed bums, Dante and Randal have some really good insights about people and life. They're not alone though, as the other characters have some choice observations as well. Yeah, the film is pretty raw and raunchy at times, but is actually rather tame compared to some of the stuff that has come out since 1994. Plus, even if it is vulgar, it's not just for the sake of it, and there's plenty of heart, depth, and, as I said, poignant observations.
Even though I will grow older and likely lose touch with this film more and more as time goes on, it will always hold a special place in my heart. It's a wonderfully fun hangout movie, and a prime example of taking a little, and turning it into a lot.
It's a particular brand of down-to-earth vulgar humor that Smith is known for that really holds the viewer's attention but it shines most when he finds maturity and sophistication in characters that often carry themselves with such simplicity we'd often see right through them.
And such is this movie appropriately named and is about; Clerks.
Comedies like this are a dying breed, where the main characters are actually established as characters, not some sideshow freak which trips over and makes a silly face for a laugh. Dante Hicks is a down-on-his-luck guy who doesn't seem to care about the fact or be willing to do anything about it. His best friend, Randal Graves, is a man who seems to know what he's doing, even though what he does most of the time is take advantage of his position at the video store ordering porn. Veronica is Dante's frustrated girlfriend who has just about had it with Dante's defeatist attitude. These three characters have one hell of a day, interrupted by Jewish guys, customers and hecklers who turn out to be salesmen for chewing gum just trying to get a commission. And these are just a few of the incidents, not even getting started on the menagerie of golden conversations which ensue, especially between Dante and Randall, covering everything from weird death positions to Return of the Jedi.
The black and white was a very bold choice for director Kevin Smith, as well as the extremely long takes and static camera shots which are prominent throughout the movie. This sort of style mimics the view of a security camera and makes the audience feel as if they are spying on the characters who are having the weirdest day of their lives.
Even though the set pieces themsleves are surprisingly subdued for such a critically acclaimed movie, there are a lot of laughs to be had here, and the film will only get better after repeat viewings. Great film.
My favourite scene is definitely playing hockey on the roof. Such an original thought.
Gee... plenty of coarse languages! I'm such a fan of Kevin Smith's films.
A day in the lives of two convenience clerks named Dante and Randal as they annoy customers, discuss movies, and play hockey on the store roof.
This ultra-cheap debut of Kevin Smith has none of the elements that make movies work, but somehow still does. It's unconventional, it's experimental, and some people have stated that it's actually barely a movie, which leaves me with little rebuttal. However, this grainy, black and white recording about nobodies doing nothing is hypnotic in a way, and most of all strangely funny. Having Jay and Silent Bob (both seldom seen) dance is one of the most random things I've ever seen in a movie, but it really cracked me up. There isn't really a plot, and nothing is ever resolved, but this doesn't matter, cue off the wall dialogue about hermaphrodite porn. I have no idea why I laughed, I have no idea what I've even watched, but this is really good stuff. Only thing that bothers me is the little relationship story, it doesn't feel realistic because I'm a superficial bastard. The girl playing Veronica is quite a lot more attractive than the girl playing Caitlin, which makes the last twenty minutes or so a bit bothersome. Either way, this is an instant classic.