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Monday, February 1, 2016

Movies like Clerks used to always bother me because people who knew the movie always looked down at people who had never seen it.

“You’ve never seen Clerks? Pfft. What are you, a loser?”

But as I got older, I realized that insecure people use movies as some sort of measurement for social acceptance and I have better things to do with my time. Once I got past the cult of personality Clerks created, I started to appreciate the movie for the brilliant work of art that it really is. But I also started to realize that Clerks could have been just as successful as a comedy album as it was a movie. It is what you hear that makes Clerks so popular, and not what you see.

There are plenty of crude sexual jokes in Clerks, but they are all funny. The humor comes from putting the main character Dante into as many awkward situations as possible. Instead of rolling with the day he was handed, Dante fights with it and the results are amazingly funny.

The stoner humor in Clerks works on a limited basis, which is why I never understood why Jay and Silent Bob became a thing. There are also plenty of Kevin Smith inside jokes in this movie that the audience is supposed to laugh at, but not really understand. But the core of this movie is the constant barrage of impossible situations that Dante has to deal with, and the way that he deals with them. In most cases (as with any good comedy), he fails miserably.

The other core of this movie is Dante’s best friend Randal, and the way in which Randal has absolutely no regard for anyone or anything. Randal works at the video rental store across the street from the convenience store where Dante works, and Randal absolutely hates customers. He also hates working, but he loves delivering obscenely funny porn movie titles in such a deadpan way that it is impossible not to laugh.

The visual aspect of Clerks, to me, was never very entertaining. This hockey game that Dante complains about almost missing throughout the entire movie looks like it was played by a bunch of guys who had never played hockey before. The grainy black and white overall production of the movie can sometimes make it difficult to watch. But none of that matters because the script is so unbelievably funny.

Fans had waited for years for a Clerks sequel and the sequel failed to live up to the legacy that the original Clerks had created. But it should be noted that the sequel barely failed to live up to that legacy. When writing within the Clerks universe, Kevin Smith could be considered one of the best comedy writers in Hollywood. The problem is that when Smith gets outside of the Clerks universe, the quality of his work falls way off.

Clerks added plenty of little sayings to pop culture and gave guys movie lines to quote for years to come. No matter how many times I watch the movie, I laugh at it. It is basically an amateur film that winds up being one of the funniest movies you will see. But I will admit that Clerks is not for everyone. The humor is not necessarily refined, and it is targeted at a very specific type of audience.

If you like crude sexual jokes and well-timed stoner humor, then you will like Clerks. If you like the worst actors you will ever see put in situations where they are actually very funny, then you will like Clerks. The best part about Clerks is that at its lowest point, it is still not as pointless as anything done by Seth Rogen, Judd Apatow, or Adam Sandler. That alone is enough reason for everyone to see Clerks at least once in their lives.

Rating: 3 ½ out of 5

+George N Root III is a drive-in enthusiast who is not even supposed to be here today. Follow him on Twitter @georgenroot3 or send him a message at

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