December 02, 2006

Still Clerkin'

I think the first Kevin Smith movie I ever saw was the premiere of Dogma on Comedy Central. Aside from the gaping plot holes (the censors seemed to have an aversion to showing viewers a giant shit-monster), it was an experience akin to seeing Star Wars for the first time. There are few directors who infuse their films with such personal flair, creating a universe that the viewer comes to understand over time. Interspersed between all the dick and fart jokes was a soul that is becoming increasingly rare in today's world of flashy blockbusters. I can't remember when I saw Clerks for the first time, but (to continue with my Star Wars analogies) the experience was somewhere along the lines of one's first viewing of Empire. At the time it was probably my favorite Kevin Smith film, so it's easy to understand my hesitation to embrace it's sequel. My initial reactions after seeing the movie were mixed. I had to go home and watch the original Clerks again before I realized what Smith had done. Clerks 2 is not a rehash, but rather a companion piece that goes in new directions, while still remaining faithful to the original. It stands alone, but is enhanced if you've seen the first one and know the back story behind the characters. After seeing it on DVD this past week for the first time since its opening day in theaters, I can now honestly say that this is my new favorite Kevin Smith movie.

Smith's talents as both writer and a director have grown so much since his low-budget days of 1994, and this film shows it. Clerks 2 is well written, and the performances are some of the most powerful of any View Askew film since Chasing Amy (still the only Smith movie I would consider as being Oscar-worthy). It also must be mentioned that this movie contains some great comedy, the pinnacle of which is the infamous 'donkey-show'. The two disc DVD maintains the View Askew tradition of being packed to the brim with features. Among the highlights are three commentary tracks, around an hour of deleted scenes, a collection of the best 'Trainwreck' making-of featurettes which were available on the web during the production of the film, and a 90-minute long documentary on the entire process of making Clerks 2. All of this makes for a much more satisfying send-off to the Askewniverse than Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back ever was, one that everybody can enjoy.

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