Despite the incredibly convoluted nature of Kevin Smith’s ‘View Askewniverse’ (the continuity in which all of Smith’s films – save ‘Jersey Girl’ – take place) ‘Clerks 2′ is the first proper sequel. ‘Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back’ ran with many of the characters of ‘Chasing Amy’ (and ‘Clerks’) but ‘Clerks 2′ takes not only the same characters but similar themes, themes which have been developed in line with the twelve years that have passed since the first film’s release.
However, there are also some changes. For a start the Quick Stop is done away with in the opening few seconds – consumed in a coffee-pot accident inferno – and Randall and Dante (along with newly sober Jay and Silent Bob) relocate to a branch of Mooby’s, the fictional McDonalds substitute and motivation for the golden calf massacre in ‘Dogma’. This means some new characters in the shape of Trevor Fehrman’s evangelical Christian Transformers/Lord of the Rings fan Elias, Rosario Dawson as branch manager Becky (far too attractive for this film) and Mrs Kevin Smith, Jennifer Schwalbach, as Emma, Dante’s fiancé to be.
For if the first movie is (loosely) based around Dante’s choice between two girlfriends, the second is (as loosely) based around his impending wedding. Once again as a ‘plot’ this exists largely to hang a successful of rambling, obscenity-strewn conversations often focussing on the usual pop-culture reference points. That said there’s a semi-serious strand running through ‘Clerks 2′, a maudlin tone of lost opportunity that matches with the slacker ethos of the first movie. However, while ‘Clerks’ could afford an open-ended lack of resolution, Smith can’t bring himself to do that to what, presumably, is the last visit to the ‘View Askewniverse.’ In fact, with the exception of the first ‘Clerks’, Smith has pretty much been in the happy ending business and this film perhaps has the cosiest ending of all.
This isn’t a bad thing, as the rest of the film is so unrelentingly nasty. Not that you really see anything just hear it or hear it discussed. It’s funny stuff by and large but the problem is that the film’s characters are not the only ones to have aged. What was sharp and edgy in 1994 is looking a bit tired after years that have seen ‘American Pie’ and ‘Jackass’ come and go. That’s not to say that the film’s bad or boring – it’s neither – but just not as fresh and original as it used to be.
Any fan (or former fan) of Kevin Smith is likely to want to see this, if only to tie up his characters’ loose ends. In this case it’ll be a funny and almost touching couple of hours. Without this history there’s not much to be gained from the movie and a lot of the humour is likely to go flat. Still it’s unlikely that many people going to a Kevin Smith film are going to be in that situation.