7.29.2006

Clerks 2 Review

Just saw Clerks 2 today. Here's the review I wrote for Visual Parables (along with some discussion questions):

Kevin Smith (who directed) is back and as raunchy as ever! And, yet, buried under all the cussing and references to body parts and bodily functions, Clerks 2 brings something sweet and refreshing.

This is not a movie I would recommend using in a Sunday School class. There aren’t any suitable scenes for use in a Sunday morning worship service. You can’t use it with your youth group. A movie like this might best be viewed 1) by yourself for personal reflection, 2) with a film viewing group, or 3) with a college-age or Gen-X group that is open to dealing with films that may at first glance seem not only inappropriate, but downright repugnant.

Clerks 2 opens in classic black-and-white with Dante (Brian O’Halloran) discovering the Quik Stop in flames. Soon, he and Randal (Jeff Anderson) are in full technicolor with new jobs working at Mooby’s (Kevin Smith’s recurring View Askew fast food joint).

What follows is 97 minutes of hilarious (though, I admit, terribly vulgar) conversation—something that Kevin Smith is a genius at writing. Dante and Randal are now in their early thirties. Dante is engaged to the woman he could never get when he was in high school. And Randal is frustrated that his best friend is moving to Florida to get married. Soon, however, Dante realizes that he’s not really in love with his fiancé (Jennifer Schwalbach), but instead has fallen in love with his boss, Becky (Rosario Dawson).

Jay and Silent Bob are also back to add some extra humor and vulgarity. They’re still selling blunt (marijuana), but Jay is no longer using it. How can he resist the temptation? As Jay puts it, he can do it “with Christ on my side.” Jay says it sincerely, but it’s hard not to feel like there’s something kind of sacrilegious about it.

But that’s what makes Kevin Smith so fascinating. Smith is a devout Catholic who, in his liner notes on the Dogma DVD, says in reference that movie, “I wanted to make a joyful noise unto the Lord, yes; but I also wanted people to hear the joyful noise, and not just shut it out because I was running around talking about Jesus. So, I opted to pepper my parable about faith with some real salt of the earth-type humor.” In the end credits to Clerks 2, the first person that Smith thanks is “God—He who keeps my heart beating, and makes me appreciative, and scared.” Sounds like a guy who loves and fears God.

Over the course of Clerks 2, Dante and Randal struggle with being men in their thirties who are still merely clerks. Dante tells Randal that “The world left us behind a long time ago.” But in the midst of their struggle, they discover that their friendship—including the past ten years of working together as Quik Stop clerks—is more important than all the wealth and success that they wish they had.

One more thing I have to mention. Clerks 2 introduces a wonderful new character to the View Askew world: Elias (Trevor Fehrman), a nineteen-year-old Lord of the Rings geek who believes that The Transformers are “a gift from God.” I think that this is where we find some of the sweetness of this movie. Elias is completely childlike. He doesn’t cuss. He doesn’t sleep with his friend. He tries to do the right thing. He looks up to Randal and Dante, even though Randal constantly torments him. Elias sets the counterpoint to the decadence of everyone else in the film.

In the end, Clerks 2 has some good things to say about what’s really important in life. Is worldly success more important than friendship? Is wealth more important than love? Is Star Wars more important than Lord of the Rings? Definitely some worthwhile thoughts to consider.

Discussion Questions:

1) One of the hardest things for Christians to get around in a movie like this is the all the vulgarity and decadence. What do we do with that? How do we reconcile a film like Clerks 2 with Ephesians 5:4? What do we do with someone like Kevin Smith, who thanks God above all others?

2) How is God spoken of in this film? Is God dismissed out of hand? Is God taken seriously? Is God understood to be real?

3) What does this movie say about friendship? What does it say about love? What does it say about what the world calls success? What does the movie say through characters like Emma and Lance Dowds (Jason Lee)?


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