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
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