I will start by admitting that I cannot give an unbiased review of Clerks. I was born and bred in Jersey. Kevin Smith is a staple in everyone’s lives who call the Garden State their home. Add to the fact that when I watched this movie over the weekend, I was actually back in the Motherland, so the memories of growing up and experiencing diners, convenience stores and driving on the Turnpike were harshly fresh. Therefore, I won’t be giving a fair and balance review of Clerks because I know that I watch such films with rose colored lenses. They remind me of home and a youth I survived, hence making me into a stronger person today.
Now, saying I can’t be unbiased doesn’t mean I won’t piss some people off because I do have a point of view which I am not sure if everyone will like. Please remember that I am merely a traveler on the road to Geekdom. I will graciously accept any kind and gentle feedback and counter arguments. Okay, here it goes (deep breath): I realized something this weekend after watching this film. Clerks is not what I would consider a geek film. Clerks is not based on any of the typical genres: Fantasy, SciFi, Superhero, monster, etc. Rather, Clerks is and always was an Independent film that was used to talk about the lives of two convenience store workers. Now, I am willing to admit my ignorance and if Indie films are geek, then I stand corrected. But from what I have seen so far, a film like Clerks, standing only on the merits of the film, is not geeky. Now, the one thing that completely sways that pendulum is the creator himself. If there was ever a guy who imbibed geekdom, it is Mr. Kevin Smith. You see it a little bit in the film, with references to Star Wars and JAWS, but he has personally made himself into a geek brand which his movies ride on.
Here’s another way I look at it. If Clerks, or his other films for that fact, did not exist, Kevin Smith could still be the coolest geek/nerd on the planet. He could have found his way to podcasting and made a legion of fans with his Fatman on Batman and talk about all things comics and superhero. Now, on the converse, if Clerks and the other movies were made by someone who was not as upfront and in the public eye about their geekhood, then I don’t think these films or their director would been seen at Comic Cons and other like minded conventions. A Kevin Smith who only had his podcast could still be a staple because his superior geeky ranking is based off of who he is and not as much as the films he created. Therefore, Clerks, as a film, is only considered geeky by association to Kevin Smith.
Okay, there it is, be gentle.
Now, as I said, I cannot be unbiased, because I love Clerks and all of Kevin’s films. And there is something that I found highly compelling after my latest viewing. Something I never noticed before. I utterly and completely want Randal as my best friend. Not because he is a realist who has the ability to recognize his lot in life and chooses to diminish its influence on him as much as possible. No, instead, I wholeheartedly realized that he deeply cares for Dante and probably the only reason he works at the video store is because that means he gets to see his friend. It’s the same reason I had a near perfect attendance in high school. By no means was I a scholastic superstar, but rather, I liked seeing my friends and that’s where they happened to be each day between 8 and 4.
Every time I’ve watched Clerks, I have done so from the point of view of Dante. A poor schmuck whose life is falling in around him and he has no worldly idea how to react and make things better. But now, I want to watch this movie from the point of view of Randal. Someone who is desperately trying to help his friend who is stuck in a rut and either needs a distraction to help him get through the day or a friendly kick to help him make that major leap. It’s nicely encapsulated in the “shit or get off the pot” conversation they have in the convenience store. In that scene, it’s not really about whether Dante is going to rise to the occasion. No, it’s about whether Randal will. He has spent all this time trying to keep his friend happy day in and day out, just waiting for that moment when he will finally figure things out and do what he has to do so he can be happy. But we learn that Dante isn’t that guy. So it is up for Randal to make a choice. Will he be the champion for Dante and give him the push he needs? And the answer is yes. Yes he does and Randal should be placed upon the mantel of heroes for doing so. That’s when he decides to tell Veronica about Caitlyn because he knows it’s the best thing for Dante. It wasn’t a numbskull mistake which would have been served best if he just kept his mouth shut. It was a calculated attempt to help his friend in a sticky situation. Any action many friends would be too scared to take, but not Mr. Randal Graves. He steps up to the challenge and rocks it, hard. Granted, it might have been a misfire but, hey, as we see in Clerks II, it worked out for the best…or maybe it just worked out for the better. Hence, I want Randal as a best friend.
Oh, there is another thing I noticed during my latest viewing. A “How did they pull that one off” moment. Specifically the ambulance scene as they cart of the old dead guy and Caitlin Bree. How did they get the use of an ambulance?
So what do you think? What am I missing, what do you agree with, what should I look at again? Please, leave comments below, and if you haven’t, subscribe to this blog on the right.
Until next time, go out and have some fun and be sure to come back next week when we review Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.