Thursday, September 27, 2007

An Appreciation Of Clerks II

I finally got a chance to see Clerks II. I didn't want to see it in the theater mainly because I knew the extras on any DVDs would be worth the wait.

My verdict?

The movie is good, not as good as the first Clerks only because it isn't the surprise the first one was. I was living in Seattle at the time the first movie came out. I was on my way to moving in with my girlfriend at the time to a dull suburb called Federal Way, 19 miles outside of Seattle. Clerks had a "Seattle Slacker" feel to it. I was ending my first phase of slackerdom, settling down to a relationship, but craving the freedom I had in Seattle.

So, Clerks spoke to me. I, of course learned that the director, Kevin Smith was from New Jersey, where I grew up. the movie had a seedy Jersey quality to it. Clerks also was the first movie that made me realize that I was a loser. Kevin Smith is younger (24 at the time) than me and was having success at his dream of being a filmmaker. My efforts at syndicating my comic strip "Pipe Dreams" was not getting me far, I gained a lot of weight, and I had lost a job I hated, and would soon start another one that I hated more that paid less. Similar to now.

Clerks stuck with me, my then girlfriend was good at getting me presents, (rare for anyone) she bought me the movie poster for the movie that I have to this day. She also bought me the video.

Now, over the years I have watched most of the Kevin Smith movies, some I've liked, Chasing Amy, some I didn't like, Dogma. He's not a great filmmaker, but his films are always entertaining, and it's fun to spot the recurring characters in each of them. I was one of the 8 people that saw the Clerks cartoon show when it aired on ABC way back when and my ex bought me the video collection right around the time we broke up. She knew what I liked.

Anyhow, I moved back to Jersey to be with yet another failed relationship. This time I was in the area of which many of the Kevin Smith films took place. Kevin Smith has a comic store in Red Bank, New Jersey. Red Bank is a former middle class town that reinvented itself as a "boutique" towns that pop up across the country. It's renewal is so geared to a snobby clientele that I thought I was not going to find any elements of Clerks anywhere.

I was wrong. First of all Clerks doesn't take place in Red Bank, it takes place in Leonardo, New Jersey. Leonardo is one of a series of depressed towns that line the south border of Raritan Bay. I accidentally saw the store when I went on a bike ride near my new town of Atlantic Highlands. The store looks a lot like it did in the movie. It doesn't exploit its prominence much at all. A few knick knacks here and there. It was still cool.

Anyway, I went to the library to pick up some DVDs. I picked up Clerks II, knowing that most of it was filmed in LA. It didn't matter, the scenes at "Mooby's" didn't interfere with my enjoyment. There were enough "Jersey Shots" to pique my interest. The "bat cave" shot where the car passes under a stone bridge is two blocks from where I live now. I hadn't been that excited since the first time I saw "Singles" and they had a shot of the Neptune Theater in Seattle. That theater was around the corner from my apartment.

Anyway since Clerks is a special movie for me, I was worried that Clerks II would ruin it. It didn't. I love the characters of Dante and Randal too much to hate the movie, and two new characters, Elias and Becky were strong enough to hold their own and add to the Kevin Smith universe. The guest appearances by people like Jason Lee and Ben Affleck, who owe their initial fame to Kevin Smith is always a treat. Some great "geek" dialogue about Star Wars and Lord of The Rings is worth the rental. The color of the film took getting used to, but not too long. The extras in the DVDS were extensive, satisfying to an obsessive nerd like me.

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