From writer, director and star Kevin Smith (Clerks, Chasing Amy, Dogma, Jay & Silent Bob Reboot); Clerks III reunites Brian O’Halloran (Clerks franchise), Jeff Anderson (Clerks franchise), Jason Mewes (Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Mallrats), Trevor Fehrman (Clerks II) and Rosario Dawson (Death Proof, Sin City, Ahsoka) for another installment, and this time they are back at the Quick Stop in New Jersey – the setting of Smith’s 1994 debut Clerks.
Following a massive heart attack, Randal enlists his friends and fellow clerks Dante, Elias, Jay, and Silent Bob to make a movie immortalising his life at the convenience store that started it all.
Clerks 3 sees our titular ‘Clerks’ Dante (Brian O’Halloran) and Randall (Jeff Anderson) picking up the pieces several years after the events of Clerks 2 which ends with them purchasing the ‘Quick Stop’ convenience store (with a little help from ‘Hetero Lifemates’ Jay & Silent Bob, played of-course by Jay Mewes and Kevin Smith).
Established as a new charecter in the previous film, Elias (Trevor Fehrman) is now part of the gang although he’s a little different than we remember. There is of-course a plethora of call backs and cameos for fans to pick up on with the welcome return of ‘Clerks’ cast members such as Marilyn Ghigliotti who returns as Dante’s ex Veronica with a stellar and emotionally charged scene as well as the return of Scott Schiaffo as the ‘Chewlies Gum Rep’. In fact most of the extended ‘Clerks’ cast are brought back in small cameos as the main plot device see’s Randall making his own movie after a life-changing event in a not so subtle nod to Smith’s own story which allows them to re-create scenes from the original film. There are also fun cameos from the likes of Ben Affleck, Justin Long & Sarah Michelle Gellar as well many more from Smith’s other films and projects. The opening sequence (set to My Chemical Romance’s ‘Welcome To The Black Parade) is an homage to the opening of Clerks and the film is an obvious love letter to the fans and these characters so viewers new to the franchise may find the first act a little hard to understand (with Clerks 2 & 3 probably required viewing).
Whilst it is set in his own unique cinematic world, here Smith deals with more deeper and emotional themes than he has become known for and this film has more in common tonally with ‘Chasing Amy’ than his previous film ‘Jay & Silent Bob Reboot‘ or the first two Clerks films although rooted in the same universe. At the core of the film is the relationship between our two leads as they each struggle with loss and the constant battle between helping each other and looking after their own interests. The message is that in life some things change, but some things will always stay the same. Jeff Anderson makes his first return to the charecter since Clerks 2 and his comic delivery is better than ever in a script which asks more of his charecter than in the previous films and we instantly see the on-screen chemistry between these two burning brightly once again; although for their character’s it’s far from plain sailing. In particular Randall and Elias scenes together deliver some of the quintessential Smith humour and dialogue we have come to know and love. Brian O’Halloran is no stranger to the ‘View Askewniverse’ (having made cameo appearances in most of Smith’s films since Clerks) but here he gives a career best performance that carries the film and he delivers some devastatingly emotional and heartfelt scenes that under pin the story and the journey of these characters over so many years.
Without spoiling too much, the film does not hold back its emotional punches and takes you on an unexpected rollercoaster of emotion from start to finish. The humour, one-liners, pop culture references, and needle drops are still there but really take a back seat in the second and third acts as Smith tells a story that feels incredibly personal and reflective on his life and career….as if he is talking directly to us through the screen like his own version of Cinema Paradiso.
4.5/5 – Smith brings us his most raw and emotional film to date whilst not forgetting his comedy roots. A must see for fans of the franchise.
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