'Clerks II' - the Film

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The View Askewniverse Films of Kevin Smith:

Clerks | Mallrats | Chasing Amy | Dogma | Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back | Clerks II | Jay and Silent Bob Reboot

Clerks II (2006) is the sixth film in the View Askewniverse comedy series written and directed by Kevin Smith. These films feature the same characters and actors, particularly Jay and Silent Bob who act as loud-mouthed comic relief throughout. Clerks II is a direct sequel to the first film in the series, showing how the two main characters from Clerks are still, ten years on, in dead-end jobs. The film is 93 minutes long and set briefly at the Quick Stop convenience store seen in the first film but predominantly takes place at a nearby Mooby's Restaurant in Leonardo, New Jersey.

Plot

A year after the Quick Stop burnt down, Dante and Randall are 'funployees' making burgers and taking abuse from customers at a Mooby's Restaurant, selling burgers and other fast food. It is Dante's last day there as he is about to head to Florida with his fiancée Emma. While his best friend Randall decides to secretly arrange a leaving party, arranging for an 'interspecies erotica' act to perform there that evening, Dante must come to terms with how he truly feels about his manager, Becky. Meanwhile, as they can no longer hang out outside the Quick Stop, reformed drug dealers Jay and Silent Bob are constantly hanging outside the restaurant, leaning against the wall. Having found their faith they are no longer taking drugs, but are still selling them.

Who does Dante love? Can a racial slur be reclaimed? Which is the best Return of the film, Jedi or King? Who or what is Pillow-Pants? How will Dante react having faced his inferno? Will any wall be as comforting to lean against as the one outside the Quick Stop? Has Silent Bob finally run out of things to say?

Dramatis Personæ

CharacterActor
Dante Hicks, funployee at a Mooby's Restaurant Brian O'Halloran
Randal Graves, funployee at a Mooby's Restaurant Jeff Anderson
Becky, manager at a Mooby's Restaurant Rosario Dawson
Jay, reformed drug dealerJason Mewes
Silent Bob, Jay's best friendKevin Smith
Elias Grover, Mooby's funployee who loves Lord of the Rings and TransformersTrevor Fehrman
Emma Bunting, Dante's fiancéeJennifer Schwalbach Smith
Lance Dowds, internet millionaire who went to school with Dante and Randal Jason Lee
Gawking GuyBen Affleck
Sexy Stud, adult entertainerZak Knutson
Hobbit Lover, Lord of the Rings fan Kevin Weisman
Concerned FatherScott Mosier
Pack-o-Smokes GuyWalter Flanagan
Husband and WifeEarthquake and Wanda Sykes
Kid in WindowHarley Quinn Smith
Milk MaidGrace Smith

Clerks in the Works: Making of

After the box office failure of Jersey Girl (2004), a film that cost $35 million to make, including paying Ben Affleck and Jenifer Lopez $10 and $4 million respectively to appear but only made $36 million at the box office1, failing to recoup its production and marketing budget, Smith once more returned to the View Askewniverse.

This was a difficult decision for Smith to make as he had been offered the chance to direct big-budget superhero film The Green Hornet for Miramax, however he realised that working on big budget films would result in losing control over the film and he would be answerable to those providing the finance. He had also been disillusioned with making films featuring stars and the intense media pressure that came with it, particularly the media's obsession with the stars' love lives to the point of having no interest in the film they were appearing in whatsoever.

Smith instead opted to make a low-budget comedy, surrounded by family and friends, initially hoping to make a film for a similar budget to Chasing Amy although his producer Scott Mosier persuaded him that for full justice to be given to the film's aims, a budget of $5 million would be more realistic, though still a smaller budger than the $20 million budget Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back was made for.

Clerks II was financed by film company TWC (The Weinstein Company). In 2005 Harvey Weinstein had fallen out with the Walt Disney Company over their control of Miramax, with disputes including claims that the Weinsteins were not paying their staff overtime and were not keeping proper company accounts. Harvey and Bob Weinstein co-founded TWC and one of their first projects was financing Clerks II, though it was produced wholly by View Askew. Weinstein disliked the title Clerks II and felt the film should have been called Clerks II: The Passion of the Clerks2. It should be emphasised that though Weinstein financed the film but was not otherwise involved in its production other than encouraging Smith to cast a famous name in the lead actress role as all the lead male roles were played by relative unknowns. Weinstein claimed that this would be needed to ensure someone from the film would be invited onto chat shows to promote the film. In late 2017 it was revealed that Harvey Weinstein was a sexual predator who had used his position of power to abuse and rape over 100 women. TWC declared bankruptcy soon after.

Smith enjoyed reuniting with many of his close friends and colleagues he had previously worked with, with even his mother and daughter making brief, cameo appearances. The role of Becky had originally been written with his wife Jennifer Schwalbach Smith in mind. After Harvey Weinstein insisted on casting an A-list actress so that the film would have at least one star, Jennifer was instead given the smaller role of Emma, which she was happy with. It is now difficult to imagine anyone other than Rosario Dawson in the role of Becky, a part she enthusiastically makes her own. Jason Lee and Ben Affleck also briefly appear; Affleck was only supposed to be a silent cameo but improvised a short sentence while Lee filmed all his scenes during a Saturday off from making his television comedy series My Name Is Earl (2005-9).

The film begins and ends in black and white, recreating the spirit and look of the original Clerks. The film was also deliberately filmed with a desaturated colour quality to ensure it was in keeping with the original film, with many fans of the first Clerks having been attracted by its cheap, worn aesthetic. The film is set in a Mooby's Restaurant, the franchise that had first appeared in Dogma, while Jay wears first a Buddy Christ T-Shirt and later wears a jacket labelled 'Justice TLF' (True Love Forever), referencing his girlfriend Justice who had appeared in the previous film.

Following the death of his mother in 2002, Jason Mewes battled various forms of substance abuse. Before filming began on Clerks II Smith had promised Jason Mewes that if he were able to come and stay clean he would appear in his next film, having replaced him on Jersey Girl. Mewes underwent a six month rehab course and stayed sober not only during filming but for the following three years until a short relapse in 2009 following surgery. Once again the film gathered a huge internet backlash before being released, this time from fans who felt that Clerks II would devalue and detract from the original. After the film was released fans felt that actually it was a poignant film that built on the characters already introduced but showing them coming to terms with being in their thirties rather than their younger selves faced with life in their twenties.

Filming took place in New Jersey as well as California. The New Jersey sequences were those bookending the film at the Quick Stop, with Kevin Smith's childhood home used as the location for Randall's house. The most difficult part of production was finding an empty fast food restaurant in America where they could film the fictional Mooby's and eventually found a disused Burger King in California; this had only been abandoned because it was in the process of being relocated and the original restaurant was due to be demolished. The set designers did such a convincing job of recreating the look of a fast food restaurant that throughout the production members of the public kept assuming it was a new, open burger joint. As the restaurant was located next to a hotel the hotel effectively became the production's office as well as place the cast and crew could stay.

Review

One of the strongest films in the series; following the previous two road movies, this has a grown-up coherent plot set during the day in the life of people flipping burgers. By having a smaller cast again, everyone has their moment to shine and a chance for their character to develop during the day. Once more numerous films are referred to and spoofed, including a memorable The Silence of the Lambs reference and A highlight has to be the argument over which film trilogy is better, Star Wars or The Lord of the Rings in general and more specifically Return of the Jedi versus Return of the King. The film even changes mood to include an uplifting dance sequence, which is even more impressive than the Silent Bob speaking moment.

Though the film concentrates on the bromance and potential break-up between Dante and Randall as well as Jay and Silent Bob, the film nevertheless passes the Bechdel Test. The one criticism is that we never really get to see Dante's fiancée Emma, or see her point of view, particularly with regards what drove her to want to marry him in the first place. Yet the strong bond between Dante and Randall, and how they are both dealing with the prospect of no longer being with each other every day, dominates the film.

The film's credits ends with,

Jay and Silent Bob may return. As for now, they're taking it easy.
1This film was made when Ben Affleck's relationship with his then-girlfriend Jennifer Lopez was being constantly broadcast everywhere by the media under the title 'Bennifer'. After their film Gigli (2003), which cost $77 million to make and only recouped $7 million it was apparent that audiences did not want to see a film starring the celebrity couple, something confirmed by Jersey Girl's test screenings. So despite having paid $4 million for her to be in it, many of the Lopez scenes were removed from the version of the film actually shown in order to hopefully persuade audiences to actually see it.2Though Dogma ended with the credit that Jay and Silent Bob would return in Clerks II: Hardly Clerkin', the film that Smith had in mind then became Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.

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