Clerks III Movie Review (Spoiler Free)
Dante & Randal reunite after sixteen years, in this emotional yet unnecessary third chapter of the Quick Stop saga.
Genre: Comedy / Drama
Director: Kevin Smith
Cast: Brian O’Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Trevor Fehrman, Rosario Dawson, Marilyn Ghigliotti, Austin Zajur, Amy Sedaris, Jason Mewes & Kevin Smith.
Run Time: 100 min.
US Release: 13 September 2022 (limited)
UK Release: 16 September 2022
German Release: 06 December 2022 (VoD)
Before every Kevin James fan starts jumping on me, give me a chance to explain! I am a huge fan of the View Askewniverse, with the first Clerks being the strongest flick in the franchise! That said, I never felt as if a sequel to Dante and Randal’s Quick Stop Groceries shenanigans was ever needed. Clerks 2 was, as such, a disappointment since it couldn't live up to the original. Now, sixteen years later, after Smith re-opened up the View Askewniverse with the Jay & Silent Bob Reboot, we obtain the third (hopefully final) instalment. So let’s get into my review of Clerks III!
After a heart attack, Dante, Elias, Jay and Silent Bob are enlisted by Randal to make a movie about the convenience store that was a big part of their life.
Writer/director Kevin Smith, was open to a second follow-up, though stated after the release of the second flick, that it would be further down the line, in his 40s or 50s. Jeff Anderson, who was already sceptical about Clerks 2, expressed his doubts again. A script was finished in 2013 but due to financing issues, other commitments, as well as Anderson dropping out in 2017, the project took years to get off the ground. Following Smith’s near-fatal heart attack the following year, he reflected upon the script, rewriting it from scratch!
In 2021 the screenplay was completed, using ideas for the animated film adaptation of Clerks: The Animated Series. With everyone back on board, shooting began in August 2021. While the director brought back the meta factor, just like his admiration for pop culture, it is as redundant as the first sequel. Even worse, this time around the jokes only work half the time, ironically due to Smith’s maturity, specifically after his myocardial infarction. Finally, there is the issue that for the majority of the runtime, it feels like a making-of, of the original.
Nonetheless, this third chapter does contain some solid narrative aspects as well! For one, the depiction of a three-decade-spanning friendship, confronted by the future, is an angle many audience members can relate to. As always, it is a love letter to popular culture, treating the fandom with respect yet also coming to the realisation that passion needs to be utilised. Additionally, it includes well-elaborated emotional scenes that do pack a gut punch!
Dialogues are mostly self-referential, as per usual. The life-altering medical condition, survived by Randal and his epiphany, is exactly what the director went through. The eye-winking fourth wall breaking, however, is going a little too far!
Brian O’Halloran returns as Dante Hicks, in his fourth portrayal of the character. Much of the personality is drawn from the director's own experiences. Dante is still mourning a massive loss, the reason for being stuck in a rut at the Quick Store, since he is afraid to move on and as such hasn’t grown as a person. O’Halloran slips easily into his debut role, bringing back the nervous mannerisms of Dante, as well as his impeccable chemistry with fellow actor Anderson.
Jeff Anderson, who had concerns about the follow-ups, was convinced to return as Randal Graves. Just like Dante, Randal is an amalgamation of James' own experience, plus the fandom's love for pop culture. In this case, the character has encountered his mortality through a heart attack, which sends him spiralling into a form of depression, as he discovers that his life did not amount to anything specific. This leads to his decision to capture his life at the Quick Store in an independent feature.
Jason Mewes is also back as Jay, together with Kevin James as Silent Bob, who breaks too often out of character to play himself as the director.
Trevor Fehrman gives a recurring appearance as Elias, who is easily the funniest persona. He makes a shift from cryptocurrency Christian, to born-again Satanist. The ongoing joke is underlined by various changes in appearance.
Cinematographically, it feels overstuffed, especially when it turns into a movie inside a movie, paying tribute to Smith’s own unique camera work from the original. From the second act onwards, it constantly switches between colour plus black-and-white, as it sets out to recreate scenes from the first flick. The coup de grace comes at the end, where it replays whole scenes from Clerks, as well as Clerks II, cannibalising itself completely. By now, the director is so far up his butt, that it borders on laziness! Production design-wise, we return to Quick Stop Groceries in New Jersey, where everything began. Not much has changed inside the convenience store, as everything is played for nostalgia. The VHS rental next door has been bought out by pot-heads Jay and Silent Bob, who turned it into a Marijuana store. The costume design pretty much reflects the predecessors, including the convenience store’s uniform.
Concerning the score, a lot of the music played is a mix of rock and reggae, including songs from the early-to-mid 00s that, while I love, felt absolutely misplaced.
Verdict: The latest flick by Kevin James, which is simultaneously the closing chapter of the Quick Store Groceries saga, is not perfect. However, it is a surprisingly emotional tale about friendship, love, just like a lesson in coming to terms with your one’s mortality. That unexpected shift in tone is what keeps the third instalment from tanking completely, because other than that, this film does not include anything original. In fact, all it does is retread old plot points, as Randal, who suffered a heart attack, wants to film the highlights of his life inside the convenience store, making this technically the behind-the-scenes picture about shooting Clerks. The cinematography mirrors that of the two predecessors, mixing black and white scenes with coloured ones. In all honesty, it feels redundant and lazy! If you are a fan of Kevin James, you’ll find some pleasure in Clerks III, nonetheless, it is far from being his best work - a 6.0 out of 10.
So what is your opinion on Clerks III? Was it all you hoped for, or is it a disappointment? Let me know in the comments below & as always, thank you for reading!