Home Entertainment ‘Clerks III’ Is a Guilty Displeasure

‘Clerks III’ Is a Guilty Displeasure

by Colin Luderitz

I really want to like Kevin Smith. Born and raised in New Jersey, Smith became a true rags-to-riches story when his first feature film, “Clerks,” took Sundance by storm and his subsequent films were just as raunchy, bold and charming. There were few comedy filmmakers with a voice quite as striking as Smith throughout the 1990s.

Unfortunately for Smith, it’s 2022.

Since the turn of the millennium, Smith’s distinctive voice has become something of a nagging whimper with films that are only intermittently funny or almost intentionally bad, which brings us back to “Clerks III,” the second film Smith has made since his 2018 heart attack that heavily inspires this third installment.

But unlike Smith’s incredible recovery, this film is dead on arrival. Unless you share his devotion to pop culture, his home state and his own films—even if you do share that devotion—the film comes across as self-congratulating, to put it kindly. The film’s premise centers around Randal Graves (Jeff Anderson), former video store employee and co-owner of the Quick Stop who suffers from his own heart attack. This gives him a new lease on life and inspires him to make an autobiographical film entitled “Inconvenience,” which is, unashamedly, just the original “Clerks.”

Jay (Jason Mewes, right) strikes the slate for a scene featuring Randal (Jeff Anderson, left). Photo courtesy of Lionsgate

Jay (Jason Mewes, right) strikes the slate for a scene featuring Randal (Anderson, left).
Photo courtesy of Lionsgate

Smith seemingly refuses to break new ground with this film. The humor boils down to referencing better movies and shows while summarizing them with profanity—several references to “The Mandalorian” are particularly distracting. Smith has already made a more heartfelt love letter to independent film in the form of his 2008 film “Zack and Miri Make a Porno.” Despite whatever Smith says about the film, this isn’t a love letter to cinema, independent or otherwise. This is a love letter to his own career devoid of any of the prowess that started it.

As far as performances go, the cast heavily struggles with many comedic beats. Save for a shockingly heartfelt monologue in the film’s third act, Brian O’Halloran as Dante Hicks is definitely not even supposed to be here today. He delivers every sentence like he doesn’t quite know how it’s going to end. Anderson as Randal fares a bit better but shares the same lack of confidence in delivery which makes the lines that are already barely funny, downright pathetic.

Dante (Brian O'Halloran) watches 'Inconvenience' with his wife, Becky (Rosario Dawson).

Dante (Brian O’Halloran) watches ‘Inconvenience’ with his wife, Becky (Rosario Dawson).
Photo courtesy of Lionsgate

The direction of the film also leaves a lot to be desired, especially for a director like Smith who has been in the industry for almost 30 years at this point. The lighting is flat and uninspired. While a film like “Clerks” doesn’t need to be a contender for best cinematography, it’d be nice if it was at least pleasant. The blocking also makes for a lot of awkward moments that could have been avoided with an ounce of forethought.

(left to right): Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith) test out their new creation. Photo courtesy of Lionsgate

(left to right): Jay (Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith) test out their new creation.
Photo courtesy of Lionsgate

Ultimately, the film pulls itself together in the third act, getting surprisingly emotional and thoughtful as it stops being about self-congratulation and more about the characters that audiences have been falling in love with over the past 28 years. However, it’s too little, too late for “Clerks III.”

I’m very happy for Smith and I’m glad he ended this trilogy on his own terms, but this trip to the Quick Stop is mostly skippable.

You may also like

WP-Backgrounds by InoPlugs Web Design and Juwelier Schönmann