Granted, like any film, there are bound to be those who feel little for Clerks, however like it or not, it is worth noting some points of importance regarding the mere existence of the film. First of all the film is a testament to the idea of the small time, hard for cash, student filmmaker scraping every penny together to create a film that ultimately lands them that big break into the big leagues of the Hollywood film industry. Shot almost exclusively in a location where he already worked, acquiring funds through maxed out credits cards and dipping into savings, and using friends and family as cast members, Kevin Smith has almost become the poster child for many struggling student filmmakers as an example of someone recent who launched their career from humble and modest means. Clerks was a critical hit and in turn contributed to 1990's rise of the independent film in both festival reception and box office returns. Independent films were quickly becoming a "thing" that studios found worth investing in and thus the subsequent mass distribution of these new, daring, and edgier films allowed audiences to watch what was, to them, a brand new type of cinema. Clerks is hardly the godfather of these indie films, however it is a part of what I consider to be the best period of the independent film.
Clerks II was received with noticeably more negative criticism than it's predecessor, but there were still many, myself included, who really did enjoy the film. As time goes on some of the toilet humour has transitioned from hilarious to juvenile, but if the film has any lasting strength it will be from the fact that it is a thesis statement on Kevin Smith's own career. Don't see it? Well the film is about a character constantly told to quit goofing off with his friends while working the same modest job and move on to bigger and more mature ventures, who ultimate decides that his simple work supports him, allows him to collaborate with friends, and while it may not land him in the history books, it is a damn fine living . Hmm...Kevin Smith may have well just said stood in front of the camera and told his critics "Yeah, I make films with my foul mouthed friends that may never get me an Academy Award, but it has gotten me this far and I have a damn good time doing it!" Say what you will about the man, I've got to give major credit to someone able to only own their criticism, but actually tell everyone he is more than content with his career.
Now, after the long planned hockey film Hit Somebody, which was to be Smiths last film before it took a direction down miniseries route, Kevin Smith has announced that his third installment in the Clerks film series will also be his final film.
There is something special about the fact that a filmmakers final film will also be the conclusion to a story which launched their career, but on the other hand I'm not to sure if this is a story that really needs any further resolution. The first film set up that main characters Dante and Randal are stuck in a customer service job while their peers move on to 'adult' careers and the second film established that this was actually just fine for both of them. Where do we really go from there? In fact, I think Jeff Anderson, the man who played Randall Graves and is apparently the only signature they need to get production of this third installment moving, said it best regarding a third Clerks film:
"You know, I don't think I want to see these guys back in a live action; Clerks II is a nice book-end to Clerks. It's a movie that stands on its own, I love the way it ends, back where they were. And it ends with Kevin's mom, doing the exact same part that she did. It ends with a Soul Asylum song; they were on the original soundtrack and the song fits so well. I don't think you go back to it and mess with it again." -Jeff Anderson (Source: movieweb.com)Now to Kevin Smiths credit he has stated that he would only make the film if he actually had something to say about himself or life in his 40's, so if we are taking his word for it, we can assume there is a continuation to the message conveyed in Clerks II.
I just hope that it doesn't conclude with messages of regret, because I applaud Clerks II for basically saying 'You know, many of us won't become CEO's, big shot lawyers, or world famous celebrities....but so what?'. Because in all honesty, as long as we have good friends, have means to support ourselves, and are good people....who cares?