Clerks II (R)
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This is the sixth movie in the View Askewniverse, and the first direct sequel to the first film in the series, 1994's Clerks. It came out in 2006, but I didn't see it until 2022, on the night that "Clerks III" opened in theaters. I didn't find it as quirky as the original movie, so before I watched it I planned on putting my review under "comedy", which I ultimately ended up doing. But after watching it, I considered putting it under "serio-comedy", because it does feel kind of like there's some actual drama in the movie. But I guess it is mostly comedy. So whatever. Of course, it has all the crassness and offensiveness of the original movie (and the whole series), and the talkiness of the whole series. Somehow I didn't enjoy it as much as I did the first movie. It's still funny, but it doesn't seem as funny, and it seems at least a bit less philosophical. There's still a lot of pop culture references, particularly when Randal is arguing with Elias about... things. I'm getting ahead of myself. Anyway, I'm not sure why I liked this movie as much less than the original as I did. I could say it's because I'm older now, but I don't really feel like I've changed much. (I've always been a bit of a prude.) But I did still like it, even if I couldn't manage to love it.
It begins with Dante going to open the Quick Stop, where he still works after all these years. But he finds the place on fire. Before long, the movie flashes forward about a year, and he and Randal have both spent all that time working at a fast food place called Mooby's. They have a coworker, a teenager named Elias Grover, and a manager named Becky Scott (Rosario Dawson). Elias is deeply Christian, and the movie kind of makes fun of him for that, which I didn't particularly like. He's also a fan of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which Randal mocks, but I couldn't tell for sure whether or not the movie itself is making fun of LOTR fandom. (I'm a fan of those movies, but I didn't mind Randal mocking them, possibly because Randal is, in general, a jackass who I can't take seriously about much of anything.) Meanwhile, Dante is very close friends with Becky, and they seem to have a lot in common, except that Becky doesn't believe in romantic love as Dante does. We also learn that they drunkenly hooked up once awhile back, which is a problem, because Dante is engaged to a woman named Emma Bunting (Jennifer Schwalbach, who is married to the movie's writer/director, Kevin Smith, and played a different character in "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back"). The two of them are planning to move to Florida tomorrow, and Dante is looking forward to starting a new life, but is also hesitant in some ways. For one thing, he doesn't really know how to dance, which he wants to be good at for the wedding reception. So at one point, Becky takes him onto the roof to teach him some moves, which reminded me of the hockey game on the roof of the Quick Stop in the first movie. While up there, there are revelations that I don't want to spoil.
And... I really don't want to spoil too much more about the plot of the movie. A lot more happens. I will say that Randal is upset about Dante moving away, because he thought they'd be friends forever. Personally, I've never really understood why Dante was friends with someone like Randal, considering how annoyed he seems to be by Randal most of the time. Even Randal himself wonders why anyone else would ever want to be friends with him, which shows a level of self-awareness I didn't quite think him capable of. But they do remain friends, and I'm kind of happy about that, in spite of myself. I'm mostly happy about every aspect of how the movie ends, even if there was one thing that felt sort of... actually, very out of character. (I won't say which character I'm talking about.) So I have mixed feelings about that one thing. But I don't want to spoil what that thing was. And... of course Jay and Silent Bob are around, as always. There's nothing I feel like saying about them. I guess I can't think of anything else to say about the movie, except that it had some good music. In particular, the whole scene with The Jackson 5's "ABC" was really fun.