Tuesday, July 11, 2006
MovieWatch: "Clerks II"
Director: Kevin Smith
Fien Print Rating (Out of 100): 60
In a Nutshell: In the original "Clerks," video store register monkey Randall (Jeff Anderson) pondered whether it was ironic that he hated people, but loved gatherings. I'm beginning to wonder if it's ironic that I love Kevin Smith, but feel ambivalent to Kevin Smith's movies. In his vaunted Q&As at college campuses and conventions, Smith is smart, hilariously combative and he delivers an assortment of stories that range from spontaneous to oft-told. As a flawless storyteller in real-life, Smith's narrative instincts are less successful on the big screen, as his films have often delivered big ideas ("Dogma") or big laughs ("Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back" worked for me), but not necessarily big narratives. With "Clerks II," Smith seems so nervous about fan reaction -- specifically claims that there's no reason to do a sequel to a wonderfully self-contained comic gem -- that he's constantly justifying the movie, even within the movie. It's still the story of Randall and Dante, who are older and none-the-wise, but Smith frequently has his characters over-articulate the themes of being in your 30s and looks for deeper meaning. For all of the lewd and rude humor -- "Clerks II" finds laughs in everything from "The Transformers" to The Jackson 5 to all variety of unprintable sexual deviance -- Smith needs to constantly inject sentiment, which he often does in ways that crush the story's momentum. I was alternating between laughing at the dialogue and situations and cringing at the mechanical plot ("Clerks II" made its points, but almost skipped the plot entirely). Among fans, there will be a tendency to overrate "Clerks II" because its finest moments are just as hilarious as anything in Smith's body of work. I can accept that, though, and still acknowledge that it doesn't quite work as a movie.
A full review will be up on Zap2it by Friday, July 21.