I've been a fan of Kevin Smith's work since the first Clerks, back in 1994. His movies aren't brilliant works of cinema. His best movie (Chasing Amy, in my opinion) his worst (that mall-rats-something-or-other) and all in between share several things in common: a community of common characters, each trying to figure out their identity, and their path in life; incredible dialogue which always stands out as the best part of the flick; and the simultaneous celebration of and poking fun at all-things-geeky.
Oh, and profanity! Lot of it, used in wonderfully funny, inventive ways.
The original Clerks spoke to a whole generation of people, many of whom identified with the characters Randal and Dante. We--especially we males--understood the relationship of the two friends, and what the witty banter really meant. Breaking balls is a guy's way to show affection for another guy, after all, and Randal, Dante, Jay and Silent Bob could break balls with style. We also identified with the more subtle parts of Clerks, like how the guys were stuck in a dead end job at the Quick Stop, working for low pay while day after day passes with little hope for a better gig any time soon. We men tend to compare our standing and our position to other men of similar age, even though we say we don't.
And we know when we're in a loser phase. Knowing it is the easy part; getting unstuck is much harder.
Clerks II is the movie where, ten years after we first meet them, Dante and Randal get unstuck.
It's another brilliant Kevin Smith movie. For an excellent review, check out Jackie's comments from when he saw the movie back in the summer. He's dead-on right about the flick.
Jackie points out the sentimentality of Clerks II, and I agree that it is much more sentimental than the first movie. And most of Smith's work, really. That's because the movie is about transition. All his other movies--hell, even Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back--was about being in the moment. Characters were trying to work through problems and relationships in the here-and-now, like good twenty-somethings should. Kids in their 20s are invincible, aren't they? Typically they have little reason to worry about the future.
At least they think so...
The 30s, though, brings it. And hard. The realization that the lives of others around you are changing. The awareness that you may be more than a bit behind your high school's valedictorian in education and achievement. The understanding that you will not always be able to hang out for hours a day with your best friend, goofin' on geeks and talking about chicks.
Life happens. Often before you realize it.
Clerks II is damn funny. The dialogue is tight and the peripheral characters--you know, Silent Bob, Jay, and all the guys like Jason Lee and Ben Affleck who always do cameos in Smith flicks--were used perfectly. Not overdone, but just enough. But, as Jackie pointed out, it's the sentiment of the film that makes Clerks II a real surprise.