Thursday, May 27, 2010

Clerks II (Kevin Smith, 2006)

Alright. In yesterday's post I might have been a tad rough on Kevin Smith. I'm certainly not alone on the internet, as he is oh-so-willing to point out. I have a love/hate relationship with both Clerks and Clerks II.

I am going to get to the bad first. There are always an awful lot of assholes in Kevin Smith movies. Not the actors, necessarily, but the characters. I tend to not feel much sympathy for any of them. Even Dante Hicks, the hero of the story (so to speak) is often worthy of derision (less here than in the original Clerks).

However, the real world is also filled with assholes. Not you guys, obviously ;-) If I had to count the number of assholes I run into on a daily basis, I would have to use scientific notation. And I'll admit, I am quite the proficient asshole at times. This might be why I both love Kevin Smith's View Askew films, and hate most of the characters. Even though it is a cartoony world where drug dealers have a working Batman utility belt (Mallrats, 1995), Smith either does not candy-coat how dick-like people are, or he finds the behavior acceptable. Either way, it is important to see the flaws of characters and often easier to enjoy a character you don't like, such as Daniel Plainview (There Will be Blood, 2007) or Anton Chigurh (No Country for Old Men, 2007). Flaws help you suspend disbelief in other areas by not making the character too unbelievable. Dante and Randall could very well be real people. Not that I would particularly like either of them.

Back to the film. This was supposed to be the last huzzah for the View Askew characters. No more Dante or Randall. No more Jay, no Silent Bob. So far it has been true (though I do believe Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back was supposed to be the finale as well). This was in many ways a wrap up of the other films, with a suitable amount of fan service, View Askew stable mates like Ben Affleck and Jason Lee made appearances, and the less-than-dynamic duo finally grow up, sort of, in the end. The main additions to the cast are Elias (discussed yesterday) and Becky (Rosario Dawson). In the original Clerks, despite Dante's girlfriends making appearances it is really just Dante and Randall. Adding these two to the mix certainly kept it from just being a rehash. I like the cohesiveness with the previous films. Turning Mooby Burger (from Dogma, 1999) into the new workplace was fun. Having brief cameos by View Askew alumni was smart. Returning to the asshole topic, Jason Lee plays an old high school enemy, and while he is an asshole bad-guy, he is less of an asshole still than Randall.

If you are a Kevin Smith fan, you have likely seen this. If you are not, start with the original Clerks if you feel compelled. You can watch this as a stand alone, but it does call back to Smith's previous films. Like Star Trek VII: The Undiscovered Country, this one is for fans primarily. Of course, if you want to watch Rosario Dawson dancing in a tank top I could hardly blame you.


kenchan13 said...

Kevin Smith has really never ascended to the films i used to think he was capable of in my eyes. Chasing Amy and Dogma were damn near the best stuff he's ever done and yet they still feel like they could have been Great films with some editing,rewriting etc. I avoided clerks 2 like the plague. Funny enough i thought the clerks cartoon was really funny and better suited perhaps to his writing.

Darius Whiteplume said...

I do like Dogma a lot. I think Chasing Amy was very good, and typifies the "people are assholes" part of my view. Affleck and Lee are both likable and unlikable at different points. They both have issues with homosexuality, for differing reasons and in differing ways.

Clerks II has it's moments, but is not great. It is best for the dick-and-fart humor Smith excels at.

MiskatonicRich said...

all due respect to a man having his own opinion, but if you look at Jen Schwalbach's Playboy pictures, she is an attractive woman...did she belong next to Shannon, Ali and Eliza in J&SBsb. No, but that is more her being a "starfucker" than a pig. I have a tendency to be over protective of Kevin and think you might have been a bit heavy on him. I would suggest listening to SModcast, it will show you what real down to earth and likable guys both Kev and Scott are.

Darius Whiteplume said...

I might be getting more jaded in my old-ish age. I just don't know that anything new happened in this film, and I'm not entirely sure why they made this one at all. Clerks was in a lot of ways something new. Other than spawning the term "interspecies erotica" I not convinced of Clerks II's importance. It is, however a fun movie, like all of his movies (even Chasing Amy had its fun moments).

Maybe it's my whole Star-Wars-heartburn thing I have been going through lately?

Frank White said...

I couldn't even focus enough on Clerks II to criticize the writing, directing, or acting. The fact that they never bothered to put neutral density gels over the windows of what is essentially the film's only location drove me up the wall.

Never has poor cinematography so enraged me.

Darius Whiteplume said...

Hmm... Maybe that's where the Abrams Lens Flare idea was born. I'll have to look at that again.

California Keys said...

Have we all forgotten about the magic that is Jersey Girl?

Darius Whiteplume said...

I have not seen Jersey Girl yet. That wasn't Bennifer, that was Afleck and Elektra...? :-)

Post a Comment