Clerks III is a story of relationships and the impact they have. A couple decades following the events of Clerks II, Dante (Brian O’Halloran) and Randal (Jeff Anderson) continue to enjoy their lives as proud owners of the Quick Stop in glorious Red Bank, New Jersey. The two spend afternoons waxing geek, navigating unruly customers, and playing hockey on the roof. When Randal survives an unexpected heart attack, he begins to question his contribution to the world thus far. Motivated, he enlists the help of Dante and local miscreants Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith) to create a movie chronicling their adventures working at the convenient store.
What works in Clerks III is the unbridled love to the View Askew Universe. Smith, serving once again as writer and director, goes deep into his own lore as he crafts the next chapter featuring these two beloved heroes. Fans of the Clerks franchise will discover a treasure trove of references, callbacks, easter eggs, and more as they bathe in the warm waters of nostalgia. Tonally, Clerks III features the blend of heart and humor Smith has become known for. With great intention the jokes are crass, raunchy, and juvenile—par for the course if you’ve experienced other Jay and Silent Bob cinema. But underneath lays a heartfelt message about what it means to grow old with the family you choose. With Clerks III, Smith celebrates his own Hollywood journey which began as an independent filmmaker while acknowledging and thanking those responsible for his success: the fans, especially those who have followed his career closely.
Those unfamiliar with the previous two Clerks films might feel lost or confused by Clerks III. This third entry is entirely self-referential and newcomers to this culture will undoubtedly not appreciate its style or structure. Furthermore, it is clear that Smith made Clerks III for a very specific group of people who will appreciate his deep cuts, and jokes that might feel shallow and/or anachronistic to those not in on the gag. For example: writer Marc Bernardin (Adora and the Distance) makes a silent cameo as someone named Lando. This meta bit is only funny if you know that a) Bernardin serves as the co-host of Smith’s Fatman Beyond podcast and b) that the character first appeared in the old Clerks. cartoon.
The best way to evaluate a film is to determine whether the filmmaking team was successful in crafting the movie they set out to make. Through that lens, Smith continues his winning streak. Unquestionably, all those involved with Clerks III enjoyed themselves immensely and Smith’s meticulous nature (he also serves as editor) is on display. While it may only appeal to a very niche audience, Clerks III will warm and reward the die-hard fans.
Clerks III is available through select Fantom Events screenings and the Convenience Tour traveling around the country through the latter half of 2022—a roadshow type experience which includes a screening and special post-Q&A session live with Kevin Smith.