Clerks is the movie that tought me that sometimes you just have to let the hard to reach chips go. This film was a master class in 1990s slacker ennui. To say this movie equiped me more for my first job than any guidance counselor is an understatement. It helped show me that more often than not, everything that’s stressing me out is something I am beating myself up over.
Dante is the part of me that always tries. He is the kind of guy who will start almost any project. Big dreams and an even bigger sense of self worth which at first doesn’t seem like a bad combination. That is if he would actually finish anything he started. Excuses and obligations always bringing him to the brink of just walking away from everything. Only in order to actually give up would require making a change in his life. So he sits and stews and complains while holding onto the idea that next week he’ll have the time to get things moving. Today however…
Honestly something I still struggle with. Finding ways to appreciate the small things in life. To just live in the moment. That’s where Randall comes in. He’s the guy who never gives up. I mean it’s hard to give up on something you never started. The living embodiment of an in the now kinda guy. Always assuming his life is building to something, but for now all he needs to do is sit back and enjoy the ride. Sauntering in late and unapologetically blunt Randall completes Dante. Not just as a good friend, but somehow managing to be everything Dante hates as well as everything he hopes he could be. Randall is a berserker, just raw hedonistic urges that needs someone like Dante to keep them grounded. Well more like cover for his ass when he goes too far.
So what is Clerks about? At it’s surface level it’s the story of Dante Hicks. A small window into his life on a day that changed all of it. Now originally Dante was going to be killed off at the end of the original film. A bittersweet reminder that even after such a pivotal change for the better you aren’t guaranteed tomorrow. A fitting ending for someone like Dante. Making plans to get his life back on track only to not follow through with them the next day after all. Fortunately he survives, the other meaningful changes however do not.
His career, his love life, and everything holding him back literally goes up in flames. Dante, and to a lesser extent Randall, are thrust out of their safety zones. With minimal skills, but plenty of work history they end up where most pop culture slackers do in their 30s middle management in fast food. See this is the brilliance of Clerks 2, both Dante and Randall ended up in the exact same place on life. Working hard didn’t get Dante anywhere, being a slacker left Randall where he was, but with one key difference. Dante was stepping up in life. Making choices that wouldn’t make him happy so much as just make him feel safe. Moving forward with a fiance he doesn’t love who is changing almost everything about him.
Causing Randall to do what he does best. Overreact to the point of sabotaging his best friend’s life in order to save it. These two movies as well as the 6 episode animated series were already packed full of depth, warmth, and the very essence of Kevin Smith. It’s incredibly hard to hold back from spoiling the whole dn trilogy here and gush over how much I adore every character. Sadly that would ruin those little moments for anyone who hasn’t experienced them for their selves. Even the most bananas of plot points manage to feel as natural as the pairing of Axel Foley and Judge Reinhold.
Smith crafted his characters in a way that looking back on my adolescence, I’d almost consider the Quick Stop my first job. Every part of these films ooze believability. The perfect musical choices will live on in my mind right alongside my own memories. Growing up alongside this trilogy has changed my life in ways I can’t begin to imagine. I know I wouldn’t feel comfortable striking up a random conversation about Star Wars contractors with a coworker when closing up for the night. Not to mention I’d probably care more what people think about me, and we know that always ends in disappointment. Unlike the Clerks trilogy that hits some of the highest points of the series start to finish.
Honestly no, your not ready for the third movie. See as a stand alone film it’s not the strongest of Smith’s films. Just it’s not a stand alone film now is it? Clerks 3 is no more a separate story than your 19th birthday party was from the rest of your life. To truly appreciate what is going on you need not only to have seen the previous movies before, but you need to step back and look at them as people. If you expect a movie ending, you will be disappointed. Rather you are left with an older and wiser Randall. A Dante who has come to peace with his failures and finally lets go of his manic sulking amd worrying. Jay and Silly Bob are there too, just unlike the last two movies Bob doesn’t give the sage wisdom that sums everything up. It ends like every other day. Life goes on, regardless of how you feel about it. You can choose to be sad if you want. Hell you can sulk and lament all the things you think you are owed. Or just maybe you can stop and appreciate what you have. Enjoy your life and do what makes you truly happy. More importantly you should take a moment to think about how these little annoyances might very well one day be your favorite memories. If not your own, then someone else’s.
Clerks 3 serves to remind us that yes our lives can often be terrible depressing messes, and it’s normal to not want to relive them. Just we are not in this alone. Those awful moments that happened to you, upset those close to you as well. That it’s not just your story, but it’s a shared experience of everyone around you. You might consider yourself someone’s Dak Raltar, but to them you are Luke. Clerks 3 is a fantastic third act. It teaches you not only to let go, but to happy about it. You might not think your life is exciting, but it’s still something special. I think Leonardo Leonardo put it best when he said “Well played, clerks”
I went into C3 expecting to wrap myself in a little bit of nostalgia. I didn’t expect that instead I’d see a movie thst speaks to me as much now as the original did the first time I slipped that VHS into my buddy’s VCR during a movie night. Say what you will about the movie from an objective sense, you got that right. Just remember when you watch these three movies, you are also watching a fair amount of Kevin Smith’s life as well. In an industry where every character needs to be just the coolest Smith made real people, with real anxiety, real problems, but most importantly real consequences. Randall well never truly know what Dante was thinking. The only ones who get closure are the ones who had the curtains close on their stories. The rest of us are left to go on. So whatever you do tomorrow, make sure it’s something you want to. Even if that is just watching movies with your friends from work. Just if ya do, could you make it Clerks 3?