Chief Justice Michael Stailey often gets mistaken for Rick Derris.
I'm not even supposed to be here today!
It's been 15 years since Kevin Smith's low-budget slacker comedy took the indie film world by storm, which means it's triple-dip time! Clerks arrives on Blu-ray, much to the surprise of Kevin himself, with a few tweaks beyond the Clerks X 10th Anniversary release. Since DVD Verdict didn't cover that title, I'll be a bit more robust in describing the extras, but defer to the reviews of my esteemed colleagues retired Judge Sean Fitzgibbons and retired Chief Justice Mike Jackson to dissect the film itself.
Facts of the Case
Dante Hicks (Brian O'Halloran, Clerks II) is a modern-day Charlie Brown, a schlub with a good heart and lack of life purpose makes him the doormat for the entire human race. What better place for someone like that to spend nearly every waking hour than a convenience store?! His best friend and quasi-life partner, Randal Graves (Jeff Anderson, Zack and Miri Make a Porno), works next door at RST Video and the two spend every ounce of energy they can muster just to make it through the day. And what a day it is! Dante learns his current girlfriend (Marilyn Ghigliotti) has sucked 37 dicks, his ex-girlfriend (Lisa Spoonauer) makes love to a corpse in a darkened restroom, a militant gum salesman incites an anti-smoking riot inside the store, and Randal defiles their friend Julie's funeral by knocking over the casket. Only the wisdom of Jay (Jason Mewes, Dogma) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith, Chasing Amy) can help put everything in perspective.
It's a film that launched careers and a franchise. Adored by fans for its characters and critics for Kevin's razor sharp dialogue, this under-the-radar comedy defied all odds, garnered industry champions, stormed Sundance, and overwhelmed Cannes all in the span of one year, becoming the darling of the indie circuit and making Bob and Harvey Weinstein look like geniuses. No one involved believes Clerks is anything other than a labor of love that caught lightning in a bottle. Static sets, rudimentary framing, ill-advised jump cuts, wonky eye lines, bad ADR, questionable performances, and continuity errors galore make it a case study for how not to shoot a film. And yet it's a picture that hangs its unfiltered philosophy on every frame of its 91 minutes, capturing the hearts and minds of a disenfranchised generation of American twenty-somethings who had never seen themselves portrayed on the big screen like this before.
Kevin is the Woody Allen of Gen X-ers, bringing his experiences, beliefs, and passions to bear in every film he undertakes. Alongside producing partner and spiritual brother-from-another-mother, Scott Mosier, they've built a family of filmmakers and a body of work that can't help but be respected. Some will claim its a house of cards built on nothing more than dick and fart jokes, but I challenge those who do think that way to sit through Clerks, Chasing Amy, and Dogma and not walk away with some appreciation for the stories being told. These topics and ideas resonate with people, regardless of how many f-bombs and sexual references they're peppered with. What we all look for in film, as critics and movie-goers alike, are unique voices and Kevin's is a true original.
15 years later, Clerks still holds up. Obstensibly, it's become an early '90s period piece, but the pop culture riffs and dialogue exchanges are like Twinkies, withstanding the test of time. Did we need a Blu-ray version of the film? No, but all of Kevin's movies have been upgraded to high def (the only one we're still waiting on is Universal's Mallrats), so Miramax gives it new menu designs, an a/v upgrade, and one significantly new bonus feature.
THE FILM ITSELF
Clerks (1994 Theatrical Cut, 91 min)
Clerks (1993 First Cut, 104 min)
Commentary for the Theatrical Cut (1995)
Trivia Track for the Theatrical Cut (2004)
Intro for the First Cut (2004, 9 min)
Commentary for the First Cut (2004, Picture-in-Picture or Audio
Oh, What a Lovely Tea Party: The Making of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (New!,
Snowball Effect (2004, 91 min)
Outtakes from Snowball Effect (2004, 38 min)
10th Anniversary Q&A (2004, 42 min)
Clerks: The Lost Scene (Animated) (2004, 10 min)
The Flying Car (2002, 8 min)
MTV Spots with Jay and Silent Bob (1998, 16 min)
Audition Tapes (2004, 14 min)
Clerks Restoration (2004, 13 min)
Mae Day: The Crumbling of a Documentary (1992, 12 min)
Music Video: Can't Even Tell (1994, 6 min)
Theatrical Trailer (1994, 2 min)
All you high-def snobs can put away your pitchforks and torches. You have no power here. If you're a Kev-head looking to upgrade all his films to Blu-ray, this purchase is a no-brainer. Everyone else can stick with the 10th Anniversary DVD. Clerks is a classic piece of '90s cinema that encapsulates a generation and proves that a passion for your art is well worth pursuing.
Not guilty. Now get outta here, and try not to suck any dick on the way to the parking lot. Nooch!
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