Title: Clerks
Rating: 4/5
Genre: Comedy
Starring: Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes (Jay and Silent Bob)

“This job would be great if it wasn't for the fucking customers.”

I rarely find comedies amusing. So often it feels as though it’s forced, its faked in such a way that it feels unnatural and often misses the mark. This directorial debut by Kevin Smith (Mallrats, Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike back) was built on a shoestring budget of just $50K (of which over half went on acquiring the rights for the soundtrack), utilising a cast that previously could not be considered actors and entirely by accident, avoids this situation, creating a ‘sketch-show-film,’ with as many timeless classic comedy moments as the best of the Monty Python series.

Following Dante and Randall throughout their day, working in a convenience store and video store respectively, it covers everything from ‘accidental necrophilia’ to the tragedy of the deaths of the independent contractors working on the Death Star in ‘Return of the Jedi.’ Cancer Nazi’s, the 12-minute Hockey Match, ‘The Perfect Dozen’ – A syndrome only held by guidance counsellors for the pointlessness of their career – the list goes on. But beyond the writing, the low budget ends up working greatly in their favour. The necessity for one scene to be cut, and the resulting conversation done in such a way as to bring out about far worse mental image of the cut sequence. The ‘handcam’ style of filming lending a realistic, almost documentary feel. The little touches, like the sign on the cash register or the headline of the tabloids in the background adding further little jokes in an already verifiable powerhouse of wit and hilarious truths.

Even the inexperience of the actors being used results in unintentional comedy lines such, including a scene – kept in the film – where ‘Jay’ (who might well have been stoned, as he often seems during the commentary) messes up his line, says as such, and starts over in one go. Or the naturalistic reaction from the angry girlfriend speaking so quickly you can barely keep up with what is being said. The banter is lightning quick and feels representative of the character, and not someone reading lines for dramatic effect. There isn’t any waiting for laughs in classic (cliché) sitcom-style, it remains fluid.

Most comedy films miss the mark with me, but this remains a verifiable cult classic. Far from poorly known now, in the days where ‘Jay and Silent Bob’ seem to have become a brand name, too few seem to forget the film that showed their origins. This is a triumph of writing over effects, without fear of saying anything, shying away from ‘vulgar’ conversations or indeed sugar-coating any of the topics that emerge. This is proof that a man with a strong enough idea can make a masterpiece with no money and a couple of friends (and the owners of the store he worked at allowing him to film after hours). This is raw and unadulterated comic brilliance.


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