Vol. 2, Issue #1 Feb. 2nd - Feb. 15th, 2007

DVD Review:
Clerks II (Weinstein Company)
By: Wilhelm Murg

The good news is that the View Askew Universe is still alive and well, even after director Kevin Smith’s disastrous “Jersey Girl” experiment; the bad news is that it’s fatter and moves a little slower. “Clerks II” begins with the Quick Stop burning down. We fast forward a year and find Dante and Randal (Brian O’Halloran and Jeff Anderson) now working at a Mooby’s. The majority of the film takes place on the last day Dante is spending in New Jersey; he and his fiancé (Jennifer Schwalbach Smith) are planning to leave for Florida the next day, but he’s obviously in love with his Mooby’s manager (Rosario Dawson). Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Smith) now sell pot in front of the fast food restaurant.

For Smith fanatics, the film is an orgy of references to both the original “Clerks,” the rest of Smith’s universe, and even the actor’s lives, such as Jay and Silent Bob being busted and going through rehab and probation, which actually happened to Mewes. The duo are also reading The Bible, but one gets the feeling that is more due to the events in “Dogma” rather than whatever they learned at their Twelve- step program. Dante still has two women fighting over him, he still likes to paint their nails, and he still has to hang signs that scream “I Assure You, We’re Open!”

What’s sad is that there’s something about “Clerks II” that seems almost begrudging. By calling “Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back!” the final View Askew film, Smith apparently wanted to branch out beyond this brilliant world he created, which is not unusual for an artist: even Beethoven wrote a lousy opera so he would be remembered for something “important” instead of his classic symphonies. We all know it’s just a matter of time before Smith is allowed to finally make a superhero comic into a film (he almost got to write “Superman”) and the View Askew Universe seems to be a good place for him until that next evolution in his career comes around.

“Clerks II” is very good, but missing the surrealistic passion of “Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back!” Through the whole thing I kept wondering if Dante was going to end up being shot in the head (which was the original ending to “Clerks,”) but he survives the film in a rather sweet ending where the characters, like the director, seem to have found their place in the universe. The genius of Smith is that he makes such profound statements amid all the dick sucking jokes.

Like all of Smith’s DVDs, this one is loaded with tons of outtakes, features, commentaries, and extras. It’s one of Smith’s weaker films by comparison, but these people are so talented that even their weakest link is one of the best comedies of the year.

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