Director Kevin Smith returns to the story and characters that started his career with Clerks III (2022). This time taking a meta approach to the content, Randall (Jeff Anderson), tired of just commenting on other people’s movies, decides to make his own – which is essentially Clerks. Now that he and Dante (Brian O’Halloran) own the Quick Stop with Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith) running a dispensary next door, it’ll be easy…right?
When the trailer first dropped for Clerks III, I was a little apprehensive and worried that the film couldn’t possibly recapture the love of Clerks or Clerks II. In the first few minutes of this likely final chapter in Smith’s Quick Stop Trilogy, I thought my fears were being confirmed. Elias (Trevor Fehrman) is back, and working at the Quick Stop for the guys as he arrives in his family’s car. Blockchain Coltrane (Austin Zajur) and Elias are carrying a box, and the overacting at this moment was so bad and unfunny that I groaned out loud. Memories of Yoga Hosers (2016) and Smith being out of touch with the subject matter popped into my head, and I worried about what would come next. But fear not, fans of Smith – because what follows only gets better and better.
Smith employs his usual tactics of cashing in favors of friends, and there are tons of cameos. However, it’s Anderson and O’Halloran who truly get to shine in Clerks III, which is as it should be since they are the titular “clerks”. I’ve always liked these guys, but they really seem emotionally invested in telling the story of these characters. Smith finds an interesting emotional arc for Dante and his relationship with Becky (Rosario Dawson), which, initially, I thought couldn’t possibly work – and then it totally does. The Jay and Silent Bob stuff as well as all of the Elias bits are fun on their own, but ultimately everything is geared towards Randall and Dante, with the former finally taking the lead for once.
While I enjoyed Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, Clerks III is the Kevin Smith movie we have been waiting for. Smith clearly poured his heart and soul into this script, and even in the moments where he literally winks to the camera, the sincerity in it is undeniable. I’ve not hidden my adoration for Smith as a storyteller and a human. I cite him for inspiring many elements of my life from becoming a podcaster to finally losing a lot of weight. Yet, I’ve also not been afraid to be honest if I don’t like something he’s created. I went into this screening with a lot of worries that this premise wouldn’t work, but it absolutely did. Clerks III earns an enthusiastic Must See rating.