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MOVIE REVIEW: FTN reviews Clerks III

September 18th, 2022 by Marc Comments

Clerks III (15)
Starring: Brian O’Halloran, Jeff Anderson & Trevor Fehrman
Directed by: Kevin Smith
Running time: 1hr 55mins

Dante, Elias, and Jay and Silent Bob are enlisted by Randal after a heart attack to make a movie about the convenience store that started it all.

Oh, man.

Oh, man, oh, man, oh, man.

Oh, man.

So, before I start, I feel I should make my relationship with Kevin Smith, and Clerks in general, clear so what follows doesn’t seem like I’m hating just for the sake of it.

When I was at university, myself, my now wife and a bunch of mates sat down and watched Mallrats and Clerks for the first time and, while at the time, I enjoyed Mallrats more, I soon became enamored with Clerks and, in general, the work of Kevin Smith.

Smith and his characters spoke to me in a way that so few others did. I was already a big movie fan at the time but I saw myself and the people I knew and loved in Smith’s work and none more so than in Dante and Randal (O’Halloran and Anderson), two characters who felt familiar to me in a way that was above personal, they felt like they were my id and my ego both realised. I also looked a lot like Smith at that time – for better or worse – but we’ll not get into that.

As Smith Developed as a film-maker, I was there for it all… Chasing Amy is still one of my favourite movies and while I felt it was overblown at the time, I enjoyed Dogma too and still revisit it from time-to-time.

On my honeymoon we visited New Kersey and made our way to Smith’s comic shop, The Secret Stash, and I’ve seen the man several times live.

But it got bumpy after that; Jay and Silent Bob Stike Back was terrible, no matter how much I tried to like it but it felt like a blip because I liked Jersey Girl – I might be alone in that – and I really liked Clerks II and the reuniting of Dante and Randal, this time introducing Rosario Dawson’s Becka, who I loved right away.

After that, with the exception of Red State – I respected Smith’s attempt at something new and it was fairly serviceable and felt like he was developing as a film-maker (sadly, he wasn’t) – everything he made after this was, well, terrible.

But despite all that, I was excited for Clerks III and when the trailer (below) hit a while back, I felt that he was back and that this could be his best movie yet… the trailer made me feel nostalgic and emotional, once again identifying with Dante and Randal in a way few characters allowed me to and seeing myself in their plight as middle-age took its toal.

Sadly, whoever cut the trailer made a better Clerks III movie than Smith did.

Clerks III is written to reflect Smith’s own dance with death when he almost died of a heart attack in 2018 (didn’t he already do that with Jay and Silent Bob Get Rebooted *shudder*?) and the movie sees Randal almost die from a heart attack and decide that he needs to do something with his life, something that leaves a legacy, so he sets about making a film that will – oh, meta! – be Clerks. See? Clever.

That’s where the smart ends, sadly.

Clerks III is a cartoon of a movie; gone is any semblance of reality that Clerks had and Clerks II mostly had; the characters are now cheap imitations of those Smith created with Fehrman’s Elias, in particular, taking the brunt of the awful with his character arc and wardrobe changes being so jarringly over-the-top that it distracts from anything else happening in the movie – Smith, perhaps going through a crisis of faith of his own here (he’s a devout Catholic and he’s death with his faith in his movies before) takes Elias’ character and basically makes him, well, I don’t have a word for what Elias is here but it’s beyond awful.

Dante and Randal too, who were given a perfect happy ending in Clerks II, are brought back to where they were as if the first sequel never happened – the duo, now in their forties, are back lamenting their lives and existences just as they were in the first movie, only here it’s jarringly bad.

The movie opens with Dante opening the store, as it should, and immediately after that a decision was made to throw in a baffling story point that immediately had me scratching my head, one I can’t get into here but when you see it, you’ll know; and it happened so fast that I actually asked my wife if I saw what I thought I saw… and I did.

After that, barely a scene or character lands.

It’s crushingly devoid of humour, with Smith’s usually funny dialog missing almost every mark – I was an hour in before I smiled for the first time. The performances here too – and I know that few of these performers are professional and the other movies have terrible performances too – are unbelievably bad with Rosario Dawson’s precious few scenes with Dante, who she crackled with in Clerks II, doing nothing but showing up how poor O’Halloran’s performance is; it’s painful to watch in places.

The precious few fun moments in the movie are cheats because they’re quite literally lifted from the previous two movies as Randal tries to make HIS movie; remember the cat on the counter in Clerks? Here it is again and we have the actor back! Remember the jock who made Dante look bad? He’s back! And, to make things worse, it actually made me feel sad in parts because, well, they’re all so old now… and many haven’t aged gracefully. I know this is a personal thing but it irked me.

Then, unbelievably, in one scene Silent Bob, played by Smith, gives a monolog about the art of the director and, while I know (hope) this was tongue-in-cheek, in a movie so devoid of artist merit, it felt ironic to see Smith himself deliver it.

In one other scene, Randal has a go at Luke Skywalker’s character in The Last Jedi and, without getting into spoilers, Smith does a ‘Luke’ on the audience in an attempt to subvert our expectations and it’s a ballsy move that leads to some of the movie’s most emotional moments, moments that should stay with us, especially for someone like myself who was there in 1996, watching Clerks for the first time, but it doesn’t. And it’s Smith’s fault because it doesn’t feel earned, not just here but over the trilogy (animated series, game and comics, I guess) and, unforgivably, immediately after this big emotional moment, Smith plays it for laughs.

Ugh.

Look, I know I’m coming off hard on this one and I know that Smith isn’t the world’s greatest film-maker and, in fairness to him, I’ve heard him say it himself many times but one of the things that made his movies special was that he wrote what he knew and who he knew but even that seems to have abandoned him now. I like Smith and I hope he continues to make movies but I fear that this movie is the final nail in the coffin of my particular journey with him.

I normally like to say that I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed well, this one actually left me angry. And very disappointed.

1 out of 5 Nerds.

Marc is a self-confessed nerd. Ever since seeing Star Wars for the first time around 1979 he’s been an unapologetic fan of the Wars and still believes, with Clone Wars and now Underworld, we are yet to see the best Star Wars. He’s a dad of two who now doesn’t have the time (or money) to collect the amount of toys, comics, movies and books he once did, much to the relief of his long-suffering wife. In the real world he’s a graphic designer. He started Following the Nerd because he was tired of searching a million sites every day for all the best news that he loves and decided to create one place where you can go to get the whole lot. Secretly he longs to be sitting in the cockpit of his YT-1300 Corellian Transport ship with his co-pilot Chewie, roaming the universe, waiting for his next big adventure, but feels just at home watching cartoons with his kids….