Clerks (1994)



“We like to make ourselves seem so much more important than the people that come in here to buy a paper, or, God forbid... cigarettes. We look down on them as if we're so advanced. Well, if we're so fucking advanced, what are we doing…“We like to make ourselves seem so much more important than the people that come in here to buy a paper, or, God forbid... cigarettes. We look down on them as if we're so advanced. Well, if we're so fucking advanced, what are we doing…

“We like to make ourselves seem so much more important than the people that come in here to buy a paper, or, God forbid… cigarettes. We look down on them as if we’re so advanced. Well, if we’re so f***ing advanced, what are we doing working here?”


If you plan to shoplift, let us know. Thanks. Isn’t that the type of bravery those who work in retail wish to have? It’s ironic to say the least. Retail workers have it difficult most of the time thanks to the consumer but that’s what makes this story so intriguing. The worker strikes back – or the clerk for that matter. A worker called in on their day off is another beast entirely. Dante (Brian O’Halloran) is that beast. His mission – when he awoke from his uncomfortable slumber in his closet is to play hockey; unfortunately work had other ideas. 

Nothing, it appears can go right for Dante. He blames it all on the convenience store where he works claiming throughout that “He wasn’t supposed to be here”. It’s his existential crisis – work is the cause of all his problems – in his eyes. What his problem really is – He is deathly afraid of change as seen throughout the story. His best friend Randal (Jeff Anderson) opens his eyes to that fact very bluntly. Randal is the type of retail worker we all strive to be when dealing with a rude customer. He doesn’t care at all about his job – just that he has to do it. Its poetic. 

“My friend here’s trying to convince me that any independent contractors who were working on the uncompleted Death Star were innocent victims when it was destroyed by the Rebels.”

Clerks is dialogue heavy and the dialogue pushes the story forward. The beauty is in the dialogue, the story revolves around it where the situations come to fruition. If it didn’t, this would be an uninteresting story. The focus is centered around the convenience and video store respectively as well as the protagonist’s apathy for actually working. The humor is very dry offering a more ironic way of looking at the world. I know I can see myself as one of their customers looking for the perfect date on a gallon of milk or finding that perfect dozen that doesn’t exist – we all do it; don’t lie to yourselves. 

The acting is amateurish at best (not by all) but that’s totally fine for this type of low budget film. When I say low budget, I mean it – $250,000 total. The camera work isn’t the best quality and it looks more like a home movie but that’s what makes it beautiful. It’s made to look and feel like a home movie. The type of grungy mid 90’s tone is what first time director Kevin Smith was going for. This film doesn’t even realize how grungy it actually is. The black and white color palette makes this film feel more intimate as Dante paints his girlfriend Veronica’s (Marilyn Ghigliotti). We feel like we’ve known these characters for longer than we’ve been introduced to them.

The plot feels like it was made up as the script was being written. Situations pop up as the seemingly ordinary goes by. Once Dante has to use shoe polish to alert customers the convenience store is open – things go downhill from there; “I assure you, we’re open”. It’s fascinatingly ironic how every customer will say the same thing when they notice something. Kevin Smith understood that irony in life and paints that picture effortlessly.

Dante can’t help but be a slave to his own self-destructive mind. Once word gets out that his ex-Caitlin (Lisa Spoonauer) is getting married, his mind just snowballs creating an avalanche of dismay. What is incredible is Kevin Smith’s vast vocabulary. For 22 year old’s that didn’t go to college – their vocabulary is quite impeccable. Even with all the people close to Dante, the ones that give him the best advice about life is none other than Jay & Silent Bob (Jason Mewes Kevin Smith, respectively). It’s wild that complete strangers (not really complete strangers since they post up at the convenience store selling drugs) can give better advice about literally anything than the people in your circle. 

“A little word of advice, my friend. Sometimes you gotta let those hard-to-reach chips go.”

Overall, Clerks is a classic – cult or otherwise. This film is brilliantly written, shot, told, acted and executed. It’s an indie film that feels bigger than it is. Its generationally important that has some really deep moments mixed in with raunchy x rated dialogue and themes. This film is able to grab a hold of you and transport you into the world and mind of these characters and you don’t mind being there. It’s fun, compelling, dirty (felt like I needed a shower after watching) and exciting – give me more of these characters, and this world to visit. This film also marked the debut of the god amongst men Kevin Smith. If I were to rate Clerks, I’d rate it a 4 out of 5. 

So, tell me guys, have you seen Clerks and if so, what do you think about it? Do you agree or disagree with me? Comment below or send me an email and let me know what you think. 

Clerks is written & directed by Kevin Smith is Rated R and has an 88% on Rotten Tomatoes. Clerks was released on October 19th, 1994 and has a runtime of 1 hour and 32 minutes. Clerks the Music can be bought by online retailers such as iTunes, Google, Amazon and Vudu.

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*I do not own these photos used in this article; all rights reserved to the copyright holder*

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