Dante’s Inferno: ‘CLERKS III’ reviewed

❉ The conclusion of Kevin Smith’s trilogy hinges on notions of regret and loss, life and friendship, blending sentiment with sarcasm.

Trevor Fehrman, Brian O’Halloran, Rosario Dawson, Jeff Anderson in CLERKS III (Lionsgate UK).

“Smith’s emotionally moving trilogy capper is more interested in its dramatic moments than it is in providing a constant blast of gut-busting humor; it operates in a comfortably pleasing, nostalgia-tinged tune while eliciting the expected guffaws, but is seemingly more keen on bringing things full circle, in a much more serious manner than could ever be expected…”

When Kevin Smith’s Clerks burst onto the film scene in 1994, it did so many things: it opened up teenagers to the idea of watching modern black and white films, it presented casually profane characters that could easily be identified with, and gave off an attitude that wasn’t afraid – and was often happy – to offend, while making it clear that anyone with a camera and a credit card could get their scrappy little movie made and released. When Clerks II rolled around, many people were right to ask what a sequel might possibly be able to do or say, let alone wonder if it might top the original. And when it turned out to be almost as hilarious and certainly as heartfelt as its predecessor, fans breathed a sigh of relief – the original masterpiece hasn’t been ruined by a stale, decade-later follow-up. So, much in the same fashion, folks might be wondering – what could CLERKS III possibly bring to the table?

Brian O’Halloran and Jeff Anderson in CLERKS III (Lionsgate UK)

A whole hell of a lot, it would appear. Smith’s emotionally moving trilogy capper is more interested in its dramatic moments than it is in providing a constant blast of gut-busting humour; it operates in a comfortably pleasing, nostalgia-tinged tune while eliciting the expected guffaws, but is seemingly more keen on bringing things full circle, in a much more serious manner than could ever be expected, with its two central characters, Dante (Brian O’Halloran) and Randall (Jeff Anderson), the now-iconic convenience store friends who have been at the centre of the View Askew cinematic world since its inception; Chasing Amy, Mallrats, Dogma, and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back are also part of this extended universe of comedies. All of these films clearly establish Smith as an auteur, and in his realm of storytelling, few have combined all of the narrative and stylistic ingredients in quite the same manner.

Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith in CLERKS III (Lionsgate UK)

Clerks III hinges on notions of regret and loss, with Dante suffering from a personal tragedy that marks the film with moments of honest melancholy, and Randall realizing that he’s been wasting his life after making a comeback from a near-fatal heart attack. Once recovered, he convinces his best buddy, and all of the familiar supporting characters from this series of films, to make a film with him, detailing their experiences behind the counter over the decades. So, essentially, you get to watch Smith and all of his friends re-create some of the best scenes from Clerks inside the confines of the movie-within-a-movie structure, with all sorts of satirical riffing about the industry and the types of movies that the Clerks franchise has helped to inspire, as well as the requisite Star Wars and general pop culture blast of enthusiasm that Smith and his buddies have brought to this series of works.

Brian O’Halloran as Dante in CLERKS III (Lionsgate UK)

It’s all very smart and entertaining and, by its conclusion, satisfying on all levels. The third act involves something that I will not share here, but let’s just say that it moves the trilogy into something more permanent and adult, and Smith, ever the eloquent vulgarian, gets to let it rip with some beautifully written monologues about life and friendship, blending sentiment with sarcasm, and really tying up all that has come before it. There are plenty of fun cameos to be discovered, and the soundtrack is a nearly wall-to-wall assortment of expertly selected tunes; much credit to Smith, serving as his own editor, on the fantastic opening credits sequence, which, due to the choice in song and the visuals on display, is as epic-feeling of a sequence as anything he’s ever put together.


‘Clerks III’ is in UK cinemas from 16 September 2022. Certification: 15. Run time: 100 mins.

❉ Nick Clement is a freelance writer, having contributed to Variety Magazine, Hollywood- Elsewhere, Awards Daily, Back to the Movies, and Taste of Cinema and is a regular contributor to We Are Cult.. He’s currently writing a book about the works of filmmaker Tony Scott.

Photo Credits: Courtesy of Lionsgate #Clerks3 @lionsgateuk

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