johnlink ranks CLERKS (1994)

Caught an old 90s standby today. I consider Kevin Smith an important part of the 90s independent movement, but I am not sold on all his work. I haven’t watched any of his films in years, but always considered CHASING AMY and DOGMA the top of the list, and CLERKS a step below. MALLRATS next, and then the others after that. It had been too long since I watched this, his debut film.

I watched CLERKS (1994) on 6.8.10. It was, I would guess, my fifth or sixth viewing of the film, but the first in probably a half dozen years. TRAILER HERE

I wonder what this film would be like with some better performances. The two lead males, Dante and Randal, are solid enough (especially Jeff Anderson as Randal). But the female performances in this film are pretty brutal. There are lines where it sounds like the actor doesn’t know the entire script. The one-line extras are mostly bad too. But hey, this was clearly a small no-budget film and you can forgive some of that. Kevin Smith certainly cannot be considered an ‘actor’s director’ in the sense that he doesn’t get good performances out of low-level talent.

But the script, on the other hand, is still very good. It’s funny, smart, and honest. There are some clunkers, but the acting kills it more than the writing. You really have to give the guy credit for making a fun film set in one major location with little maneuvering. There are so many memorable lines in this film, and “I’m not even supposed to be here today!” has entered modern speech successfully.

The grain on this film is rough and the night scenes are hard to see (though I did notice for the first time that when he says “Every price ends in nine” that he is standing in front of all the cigarettes which all end in five). This movie is hard to rank in the way that it is clearly a budget-less independent film trying to make an entertaining comedy without worrying about film quality. Some of the cutaways are amateur film moments, but CLERKS gets much more right than wrong.

Regardless of some of its downfalls, this film will forever be taught in film history books as a major film of the 90s. Smith made his mark with his first few films, and I’m still waiting for his next good one.





~ by johnlink00 on June 8, 2010.

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