Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Clerks II (2006)

Dante and Randall return, and not much has changed except their ages. That's exactly the point of Kevin Smith's continuation of his slacker saga -- what can seem like a temporary rut can, if unchecked, become a lackadaisical way of life. As a filmmaker who has recently tried to extend himself beyond his traditional frames of reference, Smith seems a bit stymied at first by the return to that which he said he would leave behind; as a result, the rhythm and timing of his jokes is a bit off center. Around the time that nerdy newcomer Elias and a Mooby's customer get into a heated debate with Randall vis-a-vis the merits of The Lord of the Rings trilogy versus the merits of the Star Wars trilogy, though, Smith's groove has started returning; by the time the big centerpiece involving a man and a donkey rolls around, he's firing on all cylinders. The built-up momentum carries the film through some emotional soppiness and into the ending which it had to possess. Take another look at that ending, though: While it looks happy on the surface, the resigned look on Dante's face coupled with the fade to black-and-white make the point clear -- ambition gets sacrified for comfort and the lure of the familiar. We're not all destined for greatness, so the trick is to learn to be comfortable with where you are. Smith's amusingly morose new film demonstrates the difficulty of settling on such prospects.

Grade: B


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