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movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Clerks

Starring: Brian O'Halloran, Jeff Anderson
Director: Kevin Smith
Rated: R
RunTime: 92 Minutes
Release Date: November 1994
Genres: Comedy, Independent

*Also starring: Marilyn Ghigliotti, Jason Mewes, Lisa Spoonauer, Kevin Smith

Review by Andrew Hicks
3½ stars out of 4

I guess it's just the fact that I've been a teenager for the past five years and heard every possible obscenity and sexual innuendo on a daily basis, but the film CLERKS didn't offend me at all. There were certain lines of dialogue that morally disgusted me, but none of it had any shock value. Nothing new under the sun, as it were. But the Motion Picture Association of America took a different stance on the movie, slapping it with the dreaded NC-17 rating, the first movie ever to receive an NC-17 based on language alone. It was eventually reduced to R, but CLERKS is definitely an adult film, even if I've heard and read this kind of stuff since junior high.

Talented director Kevin Smith brings us a day in the life of two slackers, Dante Hicks (no relation) and Randal, who work in a convenience store and video store, respectively (but not respectfully). Dante agrees to man the store on his day off because another employee is sick. He definitely picked the wrong day to come to work. By the day's end, he's closed the store twice to go to a funeral and play hockey on the roof, been responsible for an act of necrophelia, lost two girlfriends and been fined $500 for selling cigarettes to a four year old, among other things.

In the wake of PULP FICTION's revolutionary use of pop-culture references in intelligent dialogue, CLERKS brings us several memorable exchanges, in sexual and nonsexual contexts, including the least respectable job on the planet (the guy who mops the peep show booths at a porno house), the ending of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK vs. RETURN OF THE JEDI and Randal on the phone to the video distributor, ordering a couple dozen adult movie titles while a woman and her small child wait to be helped. There are plenty of G-rated sequences mixed in with the NC-17 ones, leading me to believe this movie actually could be shown on TV one day, albeit in an hour time slot.

CLERKS is basically plotless, but Smith keeps it far above the level of a sitcom or "wild comedy" movie like D.C. CAB or REVENGE OF THE NERDS. It has a distinct identity no other "Generation X" film has brought us, filmed in black- and-white, surveillance camera-style. Most artsy movies like this don't appeal to the masses, but CLERKS brings with it that self-indulgent air of dirty talk most people our age secretly enjoy engaging in at some point or another with our friends. What the MPAA needs to realize is that everyone's life would be rated NC-17 if it were a movie because none of us can escape the adult situations and dialogue life brings us. Not to mention the gratuitous nudity every time we take showers.

Copyright 1996 Andrew Hicks

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