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On the Topic of Un-Funny: Then There Was Clerks II

When I was in my last year of high school, The Social B and I saw a hilarious movie, a hilarious movie beyond hilarity. A film which introduced to us the idea that a great many people lead lives of quiet desperation while waiting, discontentedly, on other people. They were people who, given no other options, were simply passing time wherever they were at and while they were doing that they’d had some funny thoughts about Star Wars, deviancy, rapping, and culture.

I knew that there were rogue movie makers out there, people who had guts and vision, people who wanted to tell the world about what their bit of America ( or wherever ) was like. They wanted to use that little corner as the backdrop for the tale of the economically underpowered in the blighted wasteland of American suburbia.

The movie that proved all this to me was Kevin Smith’s Clerks.

I can barely remember all the scenes, but I remember laughing so hard that I thought I might die during Berserker or during the magic number 37.

The characters, Randal and Dante ( the voyager of Hell, anyone? ) were a bit like Stoppard’s Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern: each aware that there was a richer plot of life happening around them, but seemingly powerless to break out of the limited and narrow story arc life had planned for them. No, instead as the clock wound past, the best these guys could come up with was an insightful debate as to whether the Rebels were actually bad guys in the Star Wars series because they blew up the Death Star II, which, as it was under construction, likely was full of some average Joes out for a paycheck and not expecting to get detonated as they did whatever they had to do to pull an Imperial check.

Regrettably, this legacy has been tainted by the horrid abortion that is Clerks II. Geez where to start? Let’s just say it’s terrible. The insightful, Stoppard-esque look into the life of clerking was rent asunder because Smith tried to give the characters depth.

No, no, and no.

I felt like the androgynous Matrix Girl: “No, no, not like this.” Please don’t have Randal do this: Not by having an 11th-hour, you’re my friend, as much as I tortured you moment.

Then there was the impossibly hot store manager Rosario Dawson. Wrong.

Somehow through the schmalz and the entirely unnecessary “donkey show” scene the message comes through: anyone can take control of his life, and stop being passive, and can choose a life of their own desires.

OK, great message, not like it’s new, but as most of humanity has yet to get it, it bears repeating.

…but why did you have to make the characters discovering this the merry, profane, let adorably addled characters from “Clerks”? Why not have Gigli do it?

Not like this, Kevin Smith. Not by taking your detached, beloved, victims of fate and putting them into a script any script-o-tron-2000 in Hollywood could have churned out. There were a few highlights.

Some great discussions were….

  • Is “Porchmonkey” a racial epithet, can a white man claim it back
    • Wanda Sykes as an offended black patron hearing porch-monkey.
    • Randal’s listing of racial slurs that are worse than porchmonkey. Way to go, Smith! Getting that past the MPAA is this age was worthy
  • Jay channels Jame Gumb’s (in-)famous “tuck scene” from “The Silence of the Lambs”
  • Rosiario Dawson’s general not un-hotness
  • Elias was totally awesome
    • The vaginal troll in his girlfriend
    • The mouth troll in his girlfriend
    • Randal dissing Lord of The Rings' “total gayness” and multiple endings from the “Return of the King” so harshly that a Rings loving fan tosses cookies.
    • Elias likes transformers, that’s pretty good.

But that these points are not enough to make for a good movie. If, by some chance you go over to someone’s house and they rented it, you might watch it, if you’ve got some good nachos and a few beers ( both are required ), but this, in no way, approximates the brilliance of the original “Clerks”.

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