They said it couldn’t be done. Or, rather, the fans of Kevin Smith’s original Clerks didn’t want it to be done. Yet Kevin Smith returned to the film that launched his career, only to find the men from the film in nearly the same place they were as last time—only this time they work in a fast food joint. While the setting is new, the characters and situations are familiar and Kevin Smith’s paltry $5 million budgeted film went on to make back nearly six times that worldwide. With the film hitting all of the major formats, Blu-ray was the last frontier for this Smith film, which ranks as one of his best among many fans lists (even the fans who didn’t want it in the first place).
Writer-director Kevin Smith returns to the scene of his cult comedy classic Clerks to pick up his nothing-is-scared style of humour … and push it right over the edge! Ten years after the original, slacker heroes Dante and Randal have become “funployees” at Mooby’s Fast food. In addition to offending customers and debating anything and everything, their responsibilities now include ragging on their uber-nerd co-worker and teasing their sexy manager. But when Dante announces his plan to leave New Jersey, Randal plots a shocking and hysterical going-away party that will alter their lives forever. Featuring cameos by Ben Affleck, Jason Lee, Wanda Sykes and the triumphant return of Jay and Silent Bob.
Clerks II was really the first film of Smith’s that I was actually anticipating; I’d gotten into his films a few years prior, but there was nothing from the View Askew universe that had been released since then. Clerks II also kind of seemed like a bad idea at the time, simply because it was a classic from Smith and one that you didn’t really want ruined by some poor sequel. But then again, this is Smith we’re talking about—I’ve never really found anything the man wrote and direct to be truly “bad” (no, not even Jersey Girl).
I waited until Clerks II arrived on DVD to check it out, as I couldn’t find anyone who really wanted to go the theater to see the film. Still, once it arrived on the format I was right there to check it out and I was so surprised by how…well, frankly, good it was that I almost immediately watched it a second time right after. It was such an interesting take on the same men who we saw ten years prior in the original Clerks and to see them now, basically at the same place in life, was both comforting and disheartening. It’s a great story about not just moving on in life but also finding your place in the world; as odd as that may sound from a film that also boasted a donkey show, it’s the truth.
Honestly, there isn’t anything in this film that is really odd or out of place. It’s barely over an hour and a half long and everything from the production number to discussions about Lord of the Rings all fit right in with one another. Even the disturbing Jay and Silent Bob sequences are right at home and I’m honestly impressed by how similar this film felt when compared to Smith’s previous works. While perhaps not his best, it is a remarkable piece of entertainment in just how hilarious it is.
Also worth noting is the cast of the film. Almost everyone from the original film return and Rosario Dawson joins the View Askew universe as perhaps the only “movie star” to actually fully blend in with the world (Affleck doesn’t really count as he kind of grew with the series; although I guess Matt Damon would probably be the first…actually Dogma really was the first star-studded feature, but I’m getting off topic now…). Her role is strong and funny and while her pairing with Dante is a bit strange at times, the two have a kind of odd chemistry with one another that just seems to work. Cameos are abound as well, with Ben Affleck popping up for an entertaining and short bit, while the real star of the film ends up being the donkey that up until Zack and Miri ranked as Smith’s raunchiest scene to date. The man just can’t help but top himself, I guess.
Overall Clerks II is an entertaining and hilarious film and one of my favorites from Smith. It’s not overly complex in plot structure or visual appearance, but it’s a great film nonetheless. Highly Recommended.
So this is the reason why I’m reviewing a three year old film—Genius Productions has decided to bring the film to the Blu-ray format. The film itself arrives across two discs (oddly enough…it’s not even that long of a film) and in a standard Elite Blu-ray case. Extras are the same as the previous HD-DVD/DVD releases, so those who already own one of those may what to pass on this unless you absolutely need it on Blu-ray for some reason.
And for the Blu-ray portion? Well, the AVC encoded 1080p transfer really is quite dull. Watching this after Zack and Miri I realized that Smith’s films just really aren’t visually appealing; there’s no real great break in color palette (the purple of Mooby’s is about it) and there’s nothing inspired that makes you go “wow.” This is really just a film about characters and talking and nothing that the film presents to you with the camera really amazes you one way or another. Simple cuts, transitions and setups are all this film consists of. Which really isn’t a bad thing, but this is hardly the type of film to seek out the Blu-ray edition of. Also the TrueHD 5.1 audio is equally unimpressive, with front-channel focused dialogue spitting out constantly, with little else ever cropping up. Though there were a few segments where surrounds got used in interesting ways, there isn’t much here that will shock you if you already watched the film on DVD.
Extras…phew. All of them are ported over from the previous editions as previously mentioned, but there’s no shortage of goodies to check out. Included are:
Commentary with director Kevin Smith, producer Scott Mosier and director of photography David Klein
Commentary with director Kevin Smith, producer Scott Mosier Mosier and actors Jeff Anderson, Trevor Fehrman, Jason Mewes, Brian O’Halloran and Jennifer Schwalbach
Commentary (podcast) with with director Kevin Smith, producer Scott Mosier and actor Jeff Anderson
Deleted Scenes (35:31)
“A Closer Look at Interspecies Erotica” (8:58)
“Back to the Well: The Making of Clerks II” (1:26:34)
Blooper Reel (27:38)
“Train Wreck” (51:01)
As you can see the extras are plentiful, with a robust making-of, a healthy selection of deleted scenes and a lengthy blooper reel. Almost all of the extras have optional intros by Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier as well, so there’s context given.
Overall Clerks II on Blu-ray is the same old package as before, but…well, on Blu-ray. This isn’t necessarily the type of film that you would require to be in high-definition, so whether you pick it up will largely depend on how big of a Smith fan you are. For most, this release can safely be Skipped as nothing new is offered and the technical side of things isn’t the most impressive.
Clerks II is now available on Blu-ray.