Smith Gets in Touch With His Low-budget Roots

(U-WIRE) HOUSTON — Kevin Smith fans were both delighted and horrified when it was announced there would be a sequel to the ’90s cult classic “Clerks.”

The thought of making a sequel to a movie that was a testament to all Generation X-ers was as preposterous as George Lucas making Greedo fire first at Han Solo in the Mos Eisley cantina scene in the special edition of “Star Wars.”

More optimistic fans of Smith’s View Askew Universe held out hope that Smith could pull one more proverbial rabbit out of his hat as he did with the original.

More than ten years have passed since Smith was ordained as the next great film writer and director after the low budget hit “Clerks.”

Since then, critics will argue Smith has fallen short of his potential, citing “Mallrats” and “Jersey Girl” to back their claims.

But Smith has always had a gem with “Clerks” to fall back on. A gem so bright he has risked his reputation as a filmmaker to bring back “Clerks” after the “Jersey Girl” flop starring Bennifer.

As “Clerks II” opens, the audience discovers not much has changed since the last appearance of Dante Hicks (Brian O’Halloran) and Randall Graves (Jeff Anderson). Dante dutifully arrives early to open the Quick Stop while Randall arrives late and completely oblivious to his surroundings.

Dante watches Randall enter the Quick Stop to be immediately escorted out by fire fighters who have been cleaning out the store. Apparently, Randall forgot to turn off the coffee pot again and the resulting fire forces the dynamic duo of slackers from the jobs they have known and hated for the last decade.

Fast forward to one year later, Dante and Randall have landed on their feet at Mooby’s, a View Askew equivalent to McDonald’s. Randall is still known for his impeccable customer service, and Dante is the only reason Randall has not been fired yet.

Dante has found a fiancee (Jennifer Scwalbach) whose family is going to hire Dante to run a family car wash in Florida, leaving Randall to find a replacement friend to groom in Elias (Trevor Ferhman).

Elias is a Christian “Lord of the Rings” fanatical fry cook who has been scared to death of sex by his girlfriend. At times, Elias comes across as a person more into the ganja than into Christ, which makes his character very annoying.

The delicious Becky (Rosario Dawson), manager of Mooby’s, is a free spirit who is easy on the eyes. The sexual tension between her and Dante does not seem very believable.

What would a Smith release be without an appearance by Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Smith)? That’s right, “Jersey Girl.” But seriously, the drug-pimping duo return with the wrath of God on their side.

After spending six months at a drug rehabilitation clinic because of a drug possession charge, Jay and Bob have found a new wall to slouch on at Mooby’s to spread the word and make some profits.

Mewes has been sober for three years. Out of respect for his friend’s sobriety, Smith minimized the drug references.

However, Smith didn’t minimize the dancing.

Jay displays his interpretation of the Buffalo Bill dance from “Silence of the Lambs” and Smith directs a musical dance scene as a tribute to “The Blues Brothers.”

“Clerks II” did what most sequels fail to do: Smith was able to create a film in which the ending wasn’t indulged, and was therefore more realistic.

Dante and Randall went from two clerks angry at society and its stereotypes in the original, to two individuals who recognized that their lives had passed and grabbed the best opportunity to do what they did best — being clerks.