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CLERKS III movie review

CLERKS III is directed by Kevin Smith; it’s the eighth live-action feature film in Smith’s View Askewniverse. The film stars Brian O'Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Trevor Fehrman, Austin Zajur, Jason Mewes, and Rosario Dawson.

Randal and Dante are still working at the Quick Stop convenience store, with Dante disenfranchised with his life having endured a personal tragedy. When Randal suffers a heart attack and survives, he makes the surprising decision to make a move about his life and his career! Will the filmmaking process tear the two friends apart, or will it be a cinematic triumph?

It seems, after a long absence during which time he wrote/produced/directed other non-View Askew films. Kevin Smith is finally ready to begin revisiting the characters that first made him famous. While JAY AND SILENT BOB REBOOT was admittedly a bit underwhelming despite some highlights, I was especially pleased to see he’d be revisiting CLERKS specifically; the original CLERKS being the independent film that was his directorial debut. CLERKS III gives us the signature politically incorrect humor that’s always been associated with Smith while revisiting some of his classic characters. And while the movie falters in a few areas, it does manage to hit some highs, and if nothing else, is a massive improvement over its immediate View Askewniverse predecessor two years ago.

Nearly three decades later, these actors are still playing their characters. Sure, they show lines of aging, but Randal, Dante, Jay, and Silent Bob are still the same characters they’ve always been, having lost nothing largely thanks to Smith’s razor-sharp dialogue. Where the movie largely scores highest is dealing with Dante’s personal demons; Brian O’Halloran gives what may be his best performance as his signature character. The movie runs the gamut from ribald humor to some surprisingly touching moments.

The overall plot is simple and to the point, but it’s an intelligent script that allows Smith to make use of meta-style humor that heavily references the original CLERKS film, yet it never quite manages to feel like a gimmick or territory for easy laughs. Fans of the original movie will appreciate these homages. At times it feels like CLERKS meets THE DISASTER ARTIST, and I do mean that in the best of ways.

There will certainly be more View Askew films; that’s inevitable. Despite that, CLERKS III can’t help but feel like the end of an era and the closure of at least some chapters of this ongoing cinematic universe. There are more hits than misses throughout the experience, though a few subplots and plot elements felt unnecessary; a scene of Dante reconnecting with an old flame is used for some funny punchlines and then quickly aborted, making us wonder if that character and situation was needed here.

CLERKS III isn’t perfect, but it’s a solid return to the View Askewniverse fans likely didn’t know they even wanted or needed. If you’ve followed this franchise from the beginning, you’ll likely be amused and touched, though I shouldn’t have to say that this one will resonate more with longtime fans than newbies due to its reliance on nostalgia. That said, there’s still more than enough to entertain. Recommended.

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