A review of “Clerks II” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: ***

Rating: R for extremely profane language and adult situations

Run Time: 1 hour, 37 minutes

 

 

Fans of the original cult classic “Clerks” (has it really been twelve years?) will rejoice at the ribald antics of grunge-auteur Kevin Smith and his bantering boho brothers.

Not much has changed in the backwards Jersey burg that Smith and his cast of misfits – Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Smith), Dante Hicks (Brian O’Halloran) and Randal Graves (Jeff Anderson) inhabit with their dead-end jobs and futile dreams.

The venerable Quik-Stop mini-mart burns to a cinder in the opening frames, forcing all to take up “residence” at Mooby’s, home of the “udderly delicious” hamburger.

Dante and best bud Randal flip burgers while Dante preps for his next big step: marriage to burg hottie Emma Bunting (botoxed-to-within-an-inch-of-her-life Smith wife Jennifer Schwalbach) and making goo-goo eyes at Mooby’s saucy day-manager Becky Scott (Rosario Dawson). Minimum-wage drone Elias Grover (Trevor Fehrman) offers a refreshingly virginal and out-to-lunch perspective.

All the while Jay and Silent Bob hang out with ain’t-it-cool panache, Jay thumbing his nose at the establishment and spouting potty-mouth philosophy while Bob remains…silent. Mewes’ comic apex is a spot-on send up of Ted Levine’s creepy death dance in “Silence of the Lambs”. Good stuff.

How far is Smith willing to go to push his slackers-are-people-too sensibility? Straight over the top and beyond. Nimble dialogue on love and commitment jockeys for air space with such burning issues as “Star Wars” vs. “Lord of the Rings” trilogies and the benefits of kinky carnal acts that can’t be referenced in a family paper.

Piling insult upon insult Smith’s twisted ensemble waxes something akin to rhapsodic on racism, bestiality, sexual conundrums, born-again Christians, the handicapped and illegal substances. There are moments only a Clerks-cultist could love and a melancholic air about it all but the offshoot is wickedly irreverent and bone-tickling funny.

Cinematic prudes pocket your cash; “Clerks II” is not your thing. The humor is “Aristocrats” profane and base themes heavy on the kinky and politically incorrect. Smith has honed his skills over the decade; “II” has a polish that wasn’t evident in his early works and wasn’t meant to be.

It’s tough to go home again but this is a worthy follow-up to one of indies’ most celebrated and innovative darlings.