Blu-ray Review: ‘Clerks III’ (2022)

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Stars: Brian O'Halloran, Jeff Anderson
Director: Kevin Smith
Distributor: Lionsgate UK

“Stop it, I have to f*ck Satan!”

Having returned to the View Askewniverse in 2019 with Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, Kevin Smith takes another trip down memory lane, but this time, back to where it all started with Clerks III

Returning yet again to the sketchy suburbs of New Jersey, two of Kevin Smith’s beloved creations and losers – Dante and Randal (Brian O’Halloran and Jeff Anderson respectively) – are now in ownership of their much worshipped Quick Stop, as briefly examined at the conclusion of Clerks II. Next door, series regulars, Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith), have taken over the reins of the rental store next door, but are selling something more to their taste… 

Expectedly, Clerks III opens up with throwback shots from the original film, but much to the distraction of having Welcome to the Black Parade blaring out.  Subsequently, following more character reintroductions, there is a growth – and an unwelcoming one – of self-parody. For a good while it feels like a cosplay, equipped with the antithesis of the original’s rawness. However, Randal’s vulgar cursing is still hilarious, though somewhat watered down from the previous two Clerks outings.

To no great surprise, Randal manages to cause chaos in the life of Dante again, but this time by having a heart attack. A close-to-home subject for writer-director Kevin Smith, Randal’s heart attack not only adds a new, unforeseen dimension to the Randal character, but completely changes his dynamic and outlook on life. In this instance, Randal wants to become a filmmaker, and he decides to make a film based upon the day-to-day ongoings of the Quick Stop as witnessed by both himself and Dante. By dramatising their experiences, shenanigans, and infamy, Randal and Dante – in pure postmodernism – recreate classic instances from the original Clerks film.

Smith goes full-on Spielberg with a love letter to one’s own work, but by literally reshooting it. The wholesomeness doesn’t last for much longer once one realises that Clerks III is a dramatised “making of” the first Clerks. Throwbacks can be fun until we question ourselves with: should we just watch the original? Nervously, Clerks III plays that game. However, though sadly minimal, the content of a deeper emotional nature and increased seriousness, is not only incredibly touching, but heartbreaking, and certainly up there with Smith’s best work.

Ultimately, like Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, Clerks III feels exempt from the main body of the View Askewniverse. The two latest outings from Smith in this franchise feel a lifetime away from, not only the quality of the earlier films, but the overall tone and feel. However, the continual theme of friendship is ever present in the latest Clerks film, and it feels stronger than ever. Over the course of the trilogy, over 30 years, the friendship between Randal and Dante gets stronger with each instalment. Somewhat paradoxical, there is a parallel in their growth in maturity, but in immaturity too. 

As a Blu-ray package, Clerks III is excellent. Though the lengthy extras are catered more towards the fans – which is fine – there is an insightful presence within the bonuses. Whilst currently living in the pandemic/post-pandemic world, the bonus content on the Clerks III Blu-ray offer a great insight into filmmaking during a period like no other in modern times. Smith and his crew handled things excellently, and the documentary footage exemplifies what really seemed like an extraordinarily fun process. Which, ultimately, is all that matters.  The stand-outs are obviously the Blu-ray exclusives, The Clerks III Documentary and We’re Not Even Supposed to Be Here Today: 3 Decades of Clerks.

Clerks III is available in the UK on digital, DVD and Blu-ray. Many thanks to both Alternate Current and Lionsgate UK for the pleasure of this film.

3 Stars

Dom.

For John.


This article’s featured image: By Source, Lionsgate UK, Fair Use https://www.imdb.com/title/tt12004038/mediaviewer/rm315759873/?ref_=tt_ov_i

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