Director, writer and actor Kevin Smith’s last directing job was the absolutely terrible Cop Out. Yet, his finest work still and will always remain as Clerks, which was his first feature film. Clerks is a witty, funny and underrated classic that proves independent films don’t need to be arty and pretentious to succeed in entertaining an audience. It follows a day in the life of convenience store clerk, Dante (played by Brian O’Halloran) and his friend Randal (played by Jeff Anderson),who works at the video rental store next door. Throughout the day, they are force to deal with the barrage of half-wits that enter their stores, they play hockey on the roof, and try to understand their purpose in life as shop clerks.
The film focuses on non-stop humour rather than being a cinematic masterpiece or artistic vision. It is shot in black and white (cheap budget), some of the acting is wooden and far from professional, and there is little change in scenery. However, it is the script that really shines in Clerks. Kevin Smith’s writing comes off strong, funny and witty. There is a constant stream of jokes; debates over Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (the possible mass murder of innocent contractors on the Death Star), and Randal constantly ‘taking the piss out’ of Dante’s questionable love-life. Clerks is certainly a very ‘quotable’ film due to its great script.
As previously stated, the acting isn’t great, however Jeff Anderson’s natural performance as Randal is comical and creates most of the laughs. His cruel and disrespectful behaviour towards the customers and Dante, results in some great scenes. He constantly complains about life and his job, whilst using peer pressure and ‘inventive’ ploys to harass Dante. Kevin Smith also plays, the now infamous character, Silent Bob, with Jason Mewes playing Jay. The two drug dealers, though aren’t given a huge amount of screen time, still manage to form a notable and funny partnership, which gained popularity after Dogma and Jay and Silent Bob’s Strike Back.
On the surface Clerks seems like a very basic premise for a film, almost student film-making. Yet, this purely adds to the charm of it. Hilarious dialogue, great characters, Clerks is a fantastic comedy and a cult classic.