Clerks 3 (2022)

Quick synopsis: Randal Graves, after surviving a massive heart attack, enlists his friends and fellow clerks Dante Hicks, Elias Grover, and Jay and Silent Bob to make a movie about their lives at the Quick Stop Convenience store that started it all.

Could this work? I don’t really think it’s a secret that the Kevin Smith who made Clerks is very different from the Kevin Smith of today, and it could be argued that he’s a different Kevin Smith than he was when he made Clerks 2. The original is almost 30 years old and will it still be entertaining to see these characters? There is a point where the characters reach an age where their humour and pop culture obsessions would just seem kind of depressing. Thankfully these characters do use this film to move on in their characterisation.

I’m going to get the negatives out the way first; the most obvious one is that this will be impenetrable to those who haven’t seen the first two, but if you’re going into the third film in a series without watching the other two then that’s on you. People who see this will know what they’re getting. It didn’t get a wide cinema release over here so it’s not as though there’d be many people wandering into the cinema to kill time and see this.

Now onto the other negative, and this is a lot bigger for me. The first two films primarily took place over two separate days, years apart. These seem to be the only days that mattered to these characters, as they only ever reference people and situations we’ve already seen. There are no other running jokes from the over 30 years these two have worked together, nothing funny has happened in that entire time. I know it wouldn’t be fun to have this filled with orphaned references, but we could see them via flashbacks or them describing the events. As it is, the only times these characters refer to are the two days we’ve seen, so it makes it feel like the characters aren’t real people. They haven’t lived outside of these films.

There is one notable exception to this, where we find out a character died between films. I’m normally opposed to that thing happening as it feels lazy, but here it works. If we saw it it would have wasted time.

It is a comedy, but it is at its best when it’s not trying to be funny. This has more emotion than Smith has allowed in any of his films before. But there are moments where he feels scared of showing that. When it’s getting emotional and heavy, so he decides to pull back to comedy and pop culture references. It’s a shame as when he lets the emotions continue it’s genuinely heartbreaking.

So if you loved the first two, you’ll love this. If you’re the kind of person who listened to the audio commentaries and watched the DVD special features on the original, you’ll enjoy seeing the behind-the-scenes moments work their way into the script. I’ve missed these characters, and I’m glad to have them back, but the ending means if I ever do see them again I’d be kind of disappointed. The ending to this is so perfect that any attempt to add to it will just ruin it.

This has been a somewhat more dry review than usual, in my defence this film made me feel so many things that it’s hard to get back into normal review mode. That says more about this film than me raving about how much I loved it will.

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