Clerks, Kevin Smith’s 1994 breakout film was a huge achievement in the realm of independent filmmaking. The movie is shot in black and white and features two protagonists, Dante (Brian O’Halloran) and Randal (Jeff Anderson), working as clerks in a strip mall. The story takes place over the course of one extended shift as Dante is called into work on his day off. He and Randal’s opposing personalities and philosophies form the soul of the film, making for excellent profound and hysterical dialogue. Whereas Randal is a free spirit and can see past ridiculous social customs and rules and generally does as he pleases, Dante is trapped within them, afraid to step outside his comfort zone.
Clerks II, Smith’s follow-up film, which came twelve years after the first, offers the same type of story but is told differently. Now in color, the dry, sarcastic humor of the first has been replaced with a more wacky, over-the-top script featuring more edgy and offbeat humor. With this in mind, Clerks 2 suffers from being too immature. While it does end on a high note, with Dante and Randal purchasing the old Quik-Stop, the tone of the movie detracts from its core themes. In essence, it is an immature movie about maturing.
With the upcoming Clerks 3, however, Kevin Smith has a chance to make a more mature movie while still keeping his style of humor intact. Here’s why Clerks 3 needs to be a step up in maturity compared to its two predecessors.
It Concludes a Saga
Clerks 3 is bound to be the last in the Clerks franchise and not necessarily by virtue of forming a complete trilogy. The gap between Clerks and Clerks II was twelve years. Fans have waited long enough once, so it would be pushing the envelope to expect them to wait that long again. Furthermore, there’s not much left in either of the characters’ lives that can be reasonably expanded on past the possibilities that a two-hour movie presents.
In Clerks II, Dante Hicks, portrayed by Brian O’Halloran, reveals that he accidentally impregnated his manager, Becky Scott (Rosario Dawson). By the end of the film, Dante has proposed to Becky and is set to be the co-owner of the Quik-Stop with his best friend, Randal Graves. This is actually the perfect ending to build a sequel off of since Dante will certainly be well into fatherhood by now. It will mark a turning point in his life, one in which he can no longer afford to take his job as lightly as he did in Clerks and Clerks 2. Of course, the movie being a comedy and being a creation of Kevin Smith, he will not be, nor will we want him to be, an ideal role model. However, as the least-fulfilled and most repressed protagonist in his previous two appearances, it would make sense to round out his character arc at this stage in his life where he has everything he could ever ask for.
With this in mind, there’s an equally prime opportunity to delve into Randal’s maturation. With his best friend married and now a father, Randal is likely to find himself in an environment where his immaturity will be less tolerated. Randal was the source of most of the inappropriate humor of the first two Clerks, so the film will likely end up a more mature movie.
Attitudes Towards Work Have Changed
The customer service experience chronicled in the first film (and to a lesser extent, the second) is practically universal. Anyone who has worked in food or retail has numerous stories of customers being odd, unreasonable, or just plain stupid. This experience is what makes the first Clerks timeless. However, in this day and age, things are a little different.
While nothing has happened that detracts from the timelessness of Clerks, there certainly is an opportunity for Kevin Smith to capitalize on the more serious and grim realities of the job market that are coming into the public eye as of recently. It would be a disservice to the theme of customer service in Clerks if the film did not recognize the absurdities that come with interacting with the general American populace in this day and age. An idea of a more mature concept that can be explored in this movie is the matter of how much employees are willing to put up with from their employers and customers. After all, is minimum wage worth being verbally berated and stressed for forty hours a week?
If Kevin Smith chooses to go in this direction and acknowledge the far more real and gritty life of customer service workers, it will result in a more topical and mature movie. Regardless, loyal fans who have stuck around this long will enjoy his direction and still laugh along with his hysterical cast of characters.
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