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CLERKS

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars:  Brian O’Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Marilyn Ghigliotti, Lisa Spoonauer, Jason Mewes
Director:  Kevin Smith
Audio:  Dolby Surround
Video:  Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio:  Miramax
Features:  See Review
Length:  94 Minutes
Release Date:  June 29, 1999

Film ****

Clerks is pretty much Biblical truth to anyone who’s ever worked as one, and I would guess that includes most of us.  Kevin Smith, in his first feature film, has created one of the funniest and most biting films ever made.

The plot is simple…it follows Dante (O’Halloran) and Randal (Anderson), a convenient store and video rental clerk respectively, over the course of a singe day.  They both offer scathing commentaries of love, life, sex, and even the Star Wars films.  They also make nice opposites.  Dante is the one who attempts to maintain a semblance of managerial responsibility, while Randal comes and goes as he pleases, even closing the store in the middle of the day to rent a video from another store.

The script is crass and crude…in fact, it came close to garnering an NC 17 rating just for the dialogue (there’s no actual sex or nudity in the film).  As such, this movie will offend a few of the more delicate sensibilities out there.  But for those who don’t offend easily, there is much to appreciate in the brutally honest and scathingly funny script.

There are very few sets in the film, and not a lot in the way of camera movement.  Many of the shots rely on the strength of the cast, as they simply go on and on without cuts as they speak their dialogue.  It’s also a 16 mm black and white film.  In other words, very low budget—in fact, Kevin Smith paid for the movie by selling his comic book collection.  But it’s an inspiration to anyone who ever dreamed of making their own film.  You don’t need a lot of money, if you have a good script, a clear vision, and a dedicated cast.

Video ***

Considering the limitation of the source material and the inexpensive film stock used to make the movie, this is a terrific, though non-anamorphic, transfer.  It’s a bit grainy, but that’s the way it was shot.  It’s not the fault of the DVD. 

Audio ***

The soundtrack is in Dolby surround, though it mostly only comes into play with the terrific songs used in the film, which really give the audio its dynamic range and its multi channel usage.

Features ****

I am eternally grateful that Miramax released this as a Collector’s Edition disc.  It’s highlighted by a commentary track with Smith and his cast and crew, which is funny and insightful.  It also includes the trailer, a number of deleted scenes introduced by Smith, the Soul Asylum video (directed by Smith), and the very surprising alternate ending.  A terrific features package.

Summary:

Clerks is not a film for everyone, but most audiences will appreciate it as a fresh, honest, and completely hysterical comic look at the people who serve us, though they may not like us.  Great movie, great DVD.