Clerks III
Derrick Dunn

Derrick Dunn

Kevin Smith avoids threequel curse in the delightful Clerks III

Kevin Smith makes a return to the world of convenience stores in Clerks III from Lionsgate. After suffering a massive heart attack, Randal (Jeff Anderson) enlists friends and fellow clerks Dante (Brian O’Halloran), Elias (Trevor Fehrman), Jay (Jason Mewes), and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith) to help him make a movie about life at the Quick Stop. 

A wise man once said, “All fiction is based on some fact.” One of the things I’ve always commended Smith for regarding his writing was that he pulls from personal experience. Two of my favorite Smith films, Jersey Girl and Chasing Amy, deal with topics that resonate personally, even at the age of forty-one. The previously mentioned films dealt with fatherhood and unrequited love. Smith gets serious for Clerks III while keeping his trademark style of humor.

As fans know, Smith suffered an almost fatal heart attack in 2018 and changed his lifestyle. The heart attack angle sets our plot nicely early in the film. Throughout its runtime, Clerks III kept a smile on my face while validating that tomorrow indeed isn’t promised and to live life to the fullest.

Like the first two films, Brian O’Halloran’s Dante plays the straight man to Anderson’s edgy Randall. The jokes arrive in succession, and a few times, I hit rewind on my screener copy because I was laughing so hard at the last joke. I won’t spoil any of the bits, but I look forward to hearing them repeated by Smith fans and making their way onto memes.

Smith’s cast brings their A game, with everyone having a moment to shine. The characters’ arcs were realistic, mainly how Smith handles Becky (Rosario Dawson) and Elias. I also like seeing the return of other characters from the Clerks universe that I won’t reveal. In addition, as a cinephile, it was great to see the almost meta approach taken to the film within a film. Thankfully it all comes off organically and never as forced for the sake of a cheap laugh.

The third act of Clerks III sets up one of the boldest choices Smith has ever made in his nearly thirty-year career. However, after a post-film discussion with fellow critics, I understood why he made the choice he did. In hindsight, Dante and Randall always represented the two sides of Smith. I don’t want to get that deep with the analogy, but hopefully, after you see the film, my statement will make more sense to viewers.

Avoiding the threequel curse and closing out a trilogy with laughs and heart, Clerks III is worth your time.

 

Final Grade: B+

Clerks III is being released exclusively in theaters on September 13th & 15th via Lionsgate & Fathom Events.

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