The Weinstein Company/MGM
Directed and Written by Kevin Smith
Produced by Scott Mosier
I’m a guy who’s very hard on comedies. But that’s usually because I’ve got people telling me that so-and-so is the funniest movie ever made and then when I go see it in the theater or watch it at home on DVD I’m sitting there wondering when I’m going to start laughing. I laughed harder at “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” than I did at any of the “Austin Powers” movies. I’d much rather watch 30’s screwball comedies or 70’s comedies such as “Porky’s” ‘Airplane” “Johnny Dangerously” “DC Cab” “Which Way Is Up” or my personal choice as The Funniest Movie Ever Made: “Blazing Saddles” than watch most of what passes for so called comedies these days. But then the comedy gods smile and once in awhile a movie comes along that does what a comedy is supposed to do: keep me laughing from beginning to end. CLERKS II did exactly that. I’ve seen “Clerks” and I liked that one a lot and it too had me laughing until my sides hurt. But CLERKS II outdid the first one for me as there were several parts where I was laughing so hard I had to pause the DVD and take a break to get myself together so I could continue watching it. And I watched CLERKS II no less than three times in two days and I swear I laughed just as hard the second and third time as I did the first.
We rejoin Randal Graves (Jeff Anderson) and his best friend Dante Hicks (Brian O’Halloran) a year after the Quick Stop has burned to the ground. The two are now working at Mooby’s, a local fast food joint. It doesn’t exactly say much for the two 30 year old men to be flipping burgers for a living but Dante at least sees a way out: he’s going to get married to Emma (Jennifer Schwalbach) who anybody with two good eyes can see is a born man-eater who is going to be organizing every detail of Dante’s life from now on. The two of them are going to move to Florida where Dante is going to work for Emma’s dad running one of his many car washes. Randal is devastated by his best friend’s leaving but he’s determined to make the best of it and arranges to throw Dante a going-away/bachelor party right inside Mooby’s, complete with a live donkey show. Mooby’s manager Becky (Rosario Dawson) is deeply in love with Dante but she feels she can’t compete with Emma’s money and anyway, she maintains that romantic love is a buncha bullshit. Hanging outside Mooby’s is our old friends, Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith) still dealing dope and either commenting or actively interfering in the action.
A lot of the humor in CLERKS II is hysterically anti-PC and I loved it for that. There’s a great bit where Randal uses the phrase ‘porch monkey’ within earshot of black customers (Earthquake and Wanda Sykes) and gets into a really funny debate as to why he doesn’t think ‘porch monkey’ is racist. There’s a lot of other racial humor that is used in this movie so if you’re sensitive to that kinda stuff this ain’t for you. There’s also discussions about certain sexual practices, oversized female organs and the bachelor party has to be seen to be believed as it shows us more about ‘interspecies erotica’ than we wanted to know. Director Kevin Smith even has the onions to throw in a full-fledged musical number that is really very good in its sheer joyfulness and the exuberance of the cast and dancers. And Randal gives what is the best review of the ‘Lord Of The Rings’ trilogy I’ve ever heard, partly because it’s exactly how I feel about the trilogy and mostly because Jeff Anderson is simply one hell of a funny guy.
Dante and Randal pick up a sort of sidekick in this movie, the devoutly Christian teenager Elias (Trevor Fehrman) who also worships at the alter of The Transformers and spends quite a lot of time rationalizing how The Transformers fit into The Bible. And a variety of customers come in and out of Mooby’s played by Ben Affleck, Jason Lee and Scott Mosier who all put in their twenty-five cents about how Mooby’s is run in general and about Randal and Dante in particular.
The only member of the cast I have a problem with is Jennifer Schwalbach who simply bored the hell out me every time she was on screen. The scenes between her and Brian O’Halloran are dull as dishwater compared to the scenes O’Halloran has with Rosario Dawson. They have some really nice scenes together where they simply talk and the dialog Kevin Smith has provided for them sounds like the stuff real people talk about. Some might say that Smith doesn’t have to use so much profanity in this movie but for better or worse, that is how a lot of people talk nowadays. I like Rosario Dawson in anything she does. She’s got a down-to-earth quality that grounds whatever movie she’s in and makes the action a bit more believable. Maybe it’s because she doesn’t look impossibly beautiful like most movie actresses. Rosario Dawson looks as if she could be living right down the street from you. Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith by now have their characters down so well that they shamelessly steal every scene they’re in.
But the movie belongs to Randal and Dante. At the core of CLERKS II is a love story and it’s not the triangle of Dante, Emma and Becky. It’s between Randal and Dante. In a weird way they’re already a married couple and I think the movie does an excellent job of showing how much their friendship means to them and what they’re both willing to do to keep it. There are just enough serious scenes between Randal and Dante to lift CLERKS II several notches above what could have been just another raunchy comedy. But if that kinda stuff doesn’t interest you, there’s always the donkey show.
Rated R for extreme language and ‘interspecies erotica’ so put the ankle-biters to bed before watching this one, okay? And if you’re sensitive to racial and vulgar sexual humor then I’d suggest you give this one a pass.