Stars: Rosario Dawson, Jason Lee
Director: Kevin Smith
*** (out of five)
Twelve years after breaking into movies with the no-budget sensation Clerks, writer-director Kevin Smith has scurried back to the horrible world of service jobs for Clerks II.
Clerks II differs from the original in several ways — it’s more expensive, it’s in colour, and it’s got Ben Affleck, Jason Lee and Ethan Suplee turning up for cameos — but for the most part, it’s a pretty graceful return to the gracelessness of the original.
Once again, the action is set over one fairly eventful day in the lives of Sisyphean working men Dante and Randall, now stuck at a fast-food chain instead of the convenience-and-video store combo where we saw them last.
A dozen years have passed for them, too, but they haven’t really changed: Dante (Brian O’Halloran) continues to worry his every thought to death, while Randall (Jeff Anderson) is still just as obsessive, but without the control mechanism that keeps Dante from actually doing any of the stupid stuff that passes through his head.
The movie’s plot, inasmuch as it has one, revolves around Dante’s anxiety on his last day at Mooby’s: He’s about to move to Florida with his fiancée (Jennifer Schwalbach, Smith’s real-life wife) and start the life he’s always talking about starting, but he might be struggling with feelings for his manager, Becky. That Becky is played by Rosario Dawson, in a performance of such amazing movie-star wattage she seems to be an angel dispatched from geek heaven to save Dante from conformist hell, tilts the scales somewhat unfairly.
But the will-he-or-won’t-he structure isn’t terribly important to Clerks II; the movie’s more concerned with the clowning around of Jay and Silent Bob (played, as always, by Jason Mewes and Smith himself) or Randall’s endless digressions, which this time include a devastating dismissal of The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, a fixation on reinventing a racial epithet as a colour-blind insult, and an obsession with donkey sex.
It’s Clerks II. It is what it is, you know?