Did Kevin Smith know he’d create a lasting cultural phenomenon when he recruited his neighborhood friends to depict the mundane life of a convenience store clerk (Dante) and video store clerk (Randall)? How could he? He made this very shoestring budgeted movie by maxing out his credit cards. He’s on short list of entrepreneurs who went all in. Bravo!
“Clerks” is a film that doesn’t seem to say much but actually says a lot by the time it’s finished. Smith wrote a script where Dante mulls over how hard it is to move on, to change and even accept the fact that even his ex-girlfriend moved on to get married, while he’s nothing but number 37 on his current girlfriend’s oral conquests. It’s a challenge as he and Randall debate over the accomplishments of Star Wars films, eccentric customers like Smith’s friend Walt Flanigan (of “Comic Book Men”) as a guy looking for the perfect dozen eggs, or another one offended by the harsh language of a couple of bored clerks.
On paper, this all looks ordinary and boring. Yet, that’s the point. It’s fair to say we have all experienced the boredom of work with no definitive vision of a future. So, we complain about how we are not supposed to be there on our day off, or that the most important, immediate need is participating in a Saturday afternoon hockey game. Since we gotta work, we’ll compromise. If we can’t leave work, we will move the game to the roof of the store.
Two legendary cinematic characters also debuted, Jay & Silent Bob (Jason Mewes & Smith). They just lean against a wall, smoke and do not much else. Still, they offer atmosphere. There’s always loiterers mulling around a 7-11 or Circle K. They have stories as well, but we will likely never know. They just cross our paths as we pick up a soda. Smith wrote these guys as anybody we’d recognize and who we’re familiar with.
Kudos to Kevin Smith for following through with “Clerks.” This doesn’t look like anything, but it’s everything.