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Review

Harry feels CLERKS II holds the answers to a better life for all!

Today was a fascinating day. Woke up bright and early. Yoko and I had our first appointment to look and consider a possible wedding location. As we each took our showers and got ready, I really couldn’t help, but think how happy I am. Also on the docket today was a screening of CLERKS II, my enthusiasm for the film had piqued a while back… all the reviews I had read were not all that inspired. It seemed Kevin had made a funny, but inconsequential new film. Nothing awful, just not the 2nd cumming.

Suffice to say – CLERKS II wasn’t the big thing for the day. So much so, that it was actually a maybe for me.

We left with just enough time to get to our first locale for the wedding. We got there and it was fantastic. Just stunning. I was being pretty much all business, the details and facts, as was Yoko. The enormous 100lb white pigeon that leapt out of the tree trying to kill me didn’t deter me. The trees and the grass and the wildlife were just perfect. We decided to stay for lunch to sample the food they could cater and it too, was perfect. But it wasn’t till a moment – after the entrée when we heard clapping and laughing from the other room… and the sound bounced its way to our table and it felt, for just a second like we were there 393 days into the future. And it was gloriously emotional. At that moment we became 98% sure that we’d be married at this location.

After the lunch we really wanted to do something – but I was feeling weird, something made me want to come back home. It was like I just had something to do, but I wasn’t aware what. As I got in the house and Yoko was setting out to go do Father’s Day shopping for her Pops – it dawned on me…. Yeah, I do want to see CLERKS II.

So I called up Dad to see if he wanted to take in the latest Kevin Smith film… for some reason, though I absolutely love Dad – I always think he doesn’t like Kevin Smith films… but he’s totally gay for Kevin’s flicks… so of course he wanted to go.

This screening was taking place at the Screening Room at the Austin Studios… to get to it, you have to drive past all the fleets of GRINDHOUSE vehicles. They’re pretty much on night shoots so the activity around the Austin Studios lot was lax.

Let’s skip straight to the film now.

There’s a reason I went into the personal stuff above. I know, I know… save that stuff for the MySpace page, well this is still my site and I still write the way I write – and in this particular film – which has Dante Hicks and Randal Graves at a particularly similar point in their life as me. These characters are 33-34 years old, within the confines of the film. They worked for 10 years at the old store, till one day it burnt down. Then they got a job at MOOBY’S – a fast food restaurant with an internet station for while you wait on your order and the same junk food that… well fast food is known for. Dante is more or less the assistant manager and Randal is the fry and grill cook. And he exhibits some smooth patty flipping skills.

They’re pretty much exactly the same people that they were 10-12 years ago. Still clocking the counter hours away debating the same geeky shit as always… only they’re aging. Their sad dedication to that ancient religion (Star Wars) has paled next to the awesome might of LORD OF THE RINGS – which Randal took as an affront to his own sacred fantasy universe. Randal’s still filthy and Dante is still helplessly listening on in morbid rapt attention… and self-righteous disgust.

However, like many geeks that hit their mid-thirties, there’s a feeling of uselessness… of misguided purpose. They didn’t write the great American screenplay, they didn’t find one eyed Willie’s rich stuff, they didn’t form Wyld Stallions… No – they didn’t do much of anything, so Dante has settled for the girl that’ll rule his life and own his every move. He hadn’t done much with his life, she’s offering a fresh reboot of life in Florida, where they’ll own a house compliments of “Daddy” and they’ll have their own business, “The Car Wash.”

What Kevin has slyly done in his own ass-to-mouth, donkey show kinda way – has crafted his own modern mid-thirties geek retelling of AMERICAN GRAFFITTI. This film is a turning point movie. Set on that day where your old life and your new life are set to split – and it scares friends, one’s self…

The key to this film though doesn’t lay in Brian O’Halloran or Jeff Anderson… nor Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith. The magic of this film lays in Jennifer Schwalbach (Kevin Smith’s wife in reality) and Rosario Dawson. If these two women were an ounce less… you wouldn’t believe it.

Jennifer’s Emma is the adorable, oh so loving and so so soooo strong that she decides everything for Dante – but in a way that feels right… after all… she loves Dante and wouldn’t lead him wrong. She has what she sees as the best for him and her at heart. Get him away from Randal, turn him into the man she wants in her life.

Then there’s Rosario Dawson – this actress is amazing. She has a wanton sexuality about her that flies off the screen. She’s able to project sex, womanhood and one of the guys all at once. Rosario plays “Becky” the manager of MOOBY’S and Dante’s gal pal. The most sublimely beautiful moment in the history of Kevin Smith films takes place with her and Dante on the roof of the Mooby's - Rosario teaching him to dance - by having Jay & Silent Bob boom-boxing "ABC 123". This song is... pure innocent joy. When Michael was black and the age he wanted and still wants to be. The scene that erupts from this was beautiful. Simply beautiful. Great job.

There are points in this film where I was just SCREAMING INSIDE… “Don’t go for Emma! GET BECKY!” You see, Becky has had hard reality. Taking care of an uncle that’s gone through CHEMO – taking the “shit job” at Mooby’s to make end’s meat and feels a captive to something she thought would be a couple of months, but has turned into a significant lifestyle change.

She’s that responsible girl that wants to put on the assless chaps and ride life with a big grin and spurring all the way. She’s also scared of messing things up for others. She doesn’t quite have the confidence, given her own choices, to flat out intrude… but that’s there. In her.

Rosario’s Becky is my fave female character in Kevin’s films thus far. Amy is… of course – fantastic, but that voice always kinda made me twitch. She’s adorable, but I couldn’t see it. Rosario is an amazing on-screen package of womanhood. The girl most geeks dream of.

Now – I know, I know… I’ve gone pretty intense into the relationship and “soap opera-esque” layers of this film. And you’re left wondering… is this funny?

CLERKS II is fucking funny. It also counts. It isn’t an empty bag of laughs, there’s a lot of soul here. Like – Jason Lee’s character. He’s funny, Randal’s back and forth with him is funny… but the scene ultimately has a sting that just underlines everything wrong with Randal’s life. The shit he doesn’t want to look at. After all… a new jack off walked into Mooby’s… his life is worse. Isn’t it?

Ultimately – I feel CLERKS II is a message movie wrapped in filth, pop culture and honest emotional characters. The message is Kevin’s answer to how to live life right. Find what it is you can do that makes you happy each day and make that your own. Surround yourself with people you love, the right woman that fits into that life and makes it worth waking up for each and every day.

I think… for some of the younger of geeks, this will feel like bullshit. The ol’ “Keep on Keeping on” thing. But think about it. Look at Kevin. He’s not that different from most of us. He’s funnier, perhaps the faster wit… and he gets out there and does the shit he dreams of doing. But otherwise… He’s a fucking geek that sits online, looking for disgusting shit to email his friends, reading about shit he’s interested in, watching movies, playing games, buying toys… and making his own toys, having his own comic shop and having the great wife that fits into the dream, the best friend that watches his back every step of the way. He’s there for his friends and his friends are there for him. For me, it's a bit of affirmation.

If you have that in your life, you’re doing pretty goddamn good. Find what you love and who you love to do that with and start working on the dream right now and you’ll find a peace. This movie is pretty goddamn beautiful…. Even if I did see Jay tuck.

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