How long have I been at this? Eight or nine
years now? Good fucking God that's a long time to be doing the
same shtick without really getting any better at it. I sort of
feel like Jerry Lewis, except I have no desire to make The
Day the Clown Cried. My tenure is depressing to think about,
and probably one of the reasons I drink so damn much. Right up
there with the fact that I really, really like drinking a lot.
It makes me feel invincible. Fuck, I wish I had better things
to think about, but I don't get cable TV, so my imagination is
should know better and I should have moved on already. I'm a fucking
failure, though. Not moving on is what failures do best. Kevin
Smith's a failure, too, but on a much more public stage than mine.
Mine is just atop a dumpster behind the Arvada Tavern, although
the lighting is first-rate. Because Smith is a flop, people expect
me to identify with him. That's bullshit. I can identify with
a loser who does it purely for the love of screwing shit up. But
Smith has commercialized his crappiness, and I'm no more likely
to root for him than I am for the Bangladeshi who assembles my
underwear to screw up and put the wiener flap on the ass side.
When I pay someone for a product, I expect them to at least be
competent. Unless it's community theater; the more mistakes the
Clerks 2 Smith has rehashed his mediocre first movie, now
twelve years into his career. He tried to move on, and some say
up, but failed with amateurish talkies like Dogma (appeals
mainly to the adamantly ignorant), or schmaltzy, insincere bullshit
like Jersey Girl. Now, though, rather than try again at
growing up, he did the only thing besides quitting altogether:
regress back to the start. It's like a really stupid guy who struggles
in high school, so at eighteen, goes back to sixth grade because,
"Hey, I'm really good at this one!" Why take on a challenge when
there's a warm seat for you in the back of the junior high classroom?
opens Clerks 2 with a mediocre end-of-career Talking Heads
song from 1988, as though to proclaim, "Hey, I'm so out of touch
I had no idea there have been better, more current songs on the
topic of surburban sprawl since then." Not that it matters, the
movie has zero to do with suburban sprawl. Using mostly the same
tired-ass actors who also haven't gotten any better (or much other
work) in the last twelve years, Smith returns to Leonardo, NJ,
to see what happened to Brian O'Halloran and Jeff Anderson, two
shiftless convenience store workers. Their store is burning to
the ground as the movie opens. Perhaps that's meant to be symbollic
of Smith burning that sophomoric phase of his career. If it is,
it's not true.
having moved laterally from the convenience store to a fast food
restaurant, the 33-year-old O'Halloran is torn between two women,
neither defined much. Rosario Dawson is his boss in the restaurant,
who spouts some unconvincing shit about not believing in love,
and who is stuck at the fast food joint out of the goodness of
her heart. Holy shit is Dawson beautiful, and a hell of a lot
better than the material she's working with. Jennifer Schwalback
Smith is the fiancee (and also Smith's real-life wife). She's
supposed to be the beautiful girl with all her shit together,
the dream wife who is going to wipe O'Halloran's nose and inspire
him to become something. She has a sort of hard, Kim-Gordonesque
look to her that betrays the soccer-mom type she's supposed to
be portraying. She looks more like a broad from a second-tier
like character and the appropriateness of the actors don't matter
to Smith, though. He'd rather hire his pals and play "moviemaker
party" than actually seek out fresh and competent talent or put
together a competently lit and edited movie. We as consumers are
told by his wheezing, stringy-haired, frequently fat and alone
fans that we either "get it" or not. Apparently, it would be rude
to ask Smith to actually put in the effort in to fix the shit
he's bad at.
is planning to head to Florida with his fiancee and run her father's
car wash. That is meant to represent growing up and taking direction.
The problem is he likes Dawson so much he's tempted to stay and
continue boning her on the restaurant's prep table (no, we don't
get to see that). Things go topsy-turvy when he has impregnated
Dawson, and she spends a weepy scene looking dolefully at an abortion
clinic. Now he knows he must stay with her, and, of course, he
does. And this, somehow represents a more profound level of growing
up. He is finally, taking control of his destiny, apparently.
why? Why the fuck would O'Halloran grow up? Nobody grew up in
the first Clerks, so why is important now? Is Smith depressed
by the more realistic fates his own creations should face? Or
is it because Smith would like them to grow up, but just hasn't
learned how to handle real emotion or genuine transformation without
relying to cornball horseshit? To be fair, growing up would be
fine, if Smith had a clue how. he doesn;'t though, so the scenes
dealing with sincere feelings are schmaltzy horseshit like rooftop
dancing lessons, awkward exposition, and the after-school special
dramatic touch of a character blurting out "I'm pregnant!" In
fact, nothing is ever shown everything is said, which makes for
a talky, and frequently unbelievable, story.
not like Smith gives a rip about plot. The schmaltz is just the
chicken fat holding together the tedious, self-aware diatribes,
gross-out jabs at vulgarity and make-believe arguments. His plotting
is the kind where, if a cake is introduced into the story, you
know it'll end up in someone's face (this is good comedy?), and
if a man shows up for a sex show with a donkey and says "Kelly"
comes out later, then you know the donkey is Kelly and the man
fucks her. It's obvious he spent a lot longer writing the conflict
about Transformer toys then he did on the scene where Dawson spills
out her guts. The plot clunks and grinds like the transmission
in a 1981 Chevy Citation, lurching things forward before sputtering
to a stop at the next big speech.
don't think even geeks spend as much time worrying about Star
Wars, Lord of the Rings and donkey sex as Smith does.
Even with less time spent on them, though, geeks bore me. The
dialog sounds, as does all Smith dialog does, like someone arguing
with himself. The characters all use the same language with the
same pattern and rhythm. Obviously Smith just fucking cracks himself
course, the brutally tired shitck of Jason Mewes and Smith as
Jay and Silent Bob must come be included, because, well, Smith's
universe is so miniscual and finite that he thinks they must be.
It's a good thing he didn't have pedophilia in the original Clerks,
or he'd feel obligated to put it in here, too. Not that they have
anything to do, or not that the audience is going to laugh when
"Silent" Bob finally speak... again. Oooo, what a fucking treat!
These characters alone are the most precise evidence that Smith
is treading water in a kiddie pool.
course, someone will say I have no right to criticize Smith for
being a regressive failure since I'm one too. Not true, actually.
The fact that I am simply leaves me open to the same criticism,and
I'll be the first to level it. Because I can smell shit, and Clerks
2 stinks. One Finger.
Want to tell Filthy Something?