Miramax // 1994 // 92 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Sean Fitzgibbons (Retired) // June 30th, 1999
Just because they serve you doesn't mean they like you.
Kevin Smith's brilliant directorial debut brings harsh humor onto DVD. Buena Vista tries to give viewers the most for the money with a Miramax Collector's Series edition of the film, but it just isn't enough for the high price tag.
Clerks is chockfull of horrible cuts, poorly framed shots, and continuity errors, but Kevin Smith's ability to bring the harsh reality of being a clerk to life allows you be to entertained for an hour and a half. This film isn't for the conservatives out there, originally given an NC-17 rating, Clerks contains a lot of swearing and long speeches detailing sexual situations; then again, nothing the average 20-something doesn't hear on a regular basis. It's almost as if Clerks is too real. Anyone who has ever been a store clerk has a duty to at least rent this film. Personally, the film struck a chord with me as the main character, Dante, constantly tries to please his customers while they act like complete jerks to him. On the other hand, Dante's friend Randall pursues a different approach to customer service; from ignoring customers to spitting water in their faces, Randall does what all clerks wish they could do.
Throughout Dante's entire day shift at the local Quick-Stop Market he attempts to piece together his romantic life and deal with his everyday customers, including Jay and Silent Bob (played brilliantly by Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith), the local drug dealers. Humorous and strikingly honest, Clerks is an superb piece of film work that stands up as one of my favorite comedy movies of all time.
Since Clerks was a low budget independent film, Buena Vista did not have a lot to work with for this disc in the first place. The video quality can only be so good (the film is presented in black and white) and, besides dialogue and music, the audio has no real role in the film. Presented in 1.85:1 widescreen (not anamorphically enhanced) there is a constant grain over the film. The audio is only available in 2 channel surround, but as I said before, a 5.1 track would not have benefited the room at all.
The Clerks DVD has some nice bonus materials, however they only exist because of the high price of the disc, whereas these should be standard on a regular release of the film (merely because they already existed and are just taken from the Laserdisc release of the film). For your extra $10 you get an audio commentary on the film done by Kevin Smith in a room full of cast and crew members who were, at the time, shooting Mallrats in Minnesota. The commentary is entertaining but you mostly only hear Kevin Smith, with occasional information from others in the room. An alternate, and quite bleak, ending for the film is available for viewing as well as "deleted" scenes, which are mostly just extended versions of the film's existing scenes. Finally there is a music video from Soul Asylum and a theatrical trailer available.
Now, the extra content is nice, but at a premium price. I paid extra because I love this film, others may not be so willing. Other DVD producers, such as Warner Bros., will release discs with just as many, if not more, extra features than the Clerks DVD has, at regular price. Even in Warner Bros. case they will produce these extra features new for the DVD, whereas Buena Vista is taking existing extra features from a previous Laserdisc release and slapping them on DVD for a premium price.
I could complain about the video and audio transfer but, as I said before, because of the low budget used in filming Clerks I really didn't expect a superb transfer. The transfer on this DVD might be as good as it can get with Clerks, without going back and re-shooting the entire film.
Buena Vista has to realize their Bonus Materials should not be reserved for "Collector Series" DVDs but included on all DVDs that they can. If they're going to do a "Collector Series" at a higher price they should include many more extra features (actually go out and produce something new!) and get an anamorphic transfer!
As I have already said twice now, I love this film, therefore I must own it on DVD; even at a ridiculous price. I'd strongly advise any fan of comedies, or former clerk, to rent this DVD and enjoy it; but unless you like this film as much as I do; don't buy it! Those turned off by profanity and sexually explicit language will definitely be turned off by Clerks, so, if this is you, don't touch this film with a ten foot pole!
The film is acquitted, Buena Vista is sentenced to an indefinite term of community service in which they will provide the DVD community with "Bonus Materials" on their "standard" releases.
Review content copyright © 1999 Sean Fitzgibbons; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 92 Minutes
Release Year: 1994
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Theatrical Trailer
* Deleted Scenes With Introduction By Kevin Smith
* Alternate Ending
* Soul Asylum Music Video
* Audio Commentary by Kevin Smith and the Cast and Crew