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Sunday, July 23, 2006

"CLERKS II" REVIEWED

Some thoughts on writer/director Kevin Smiths "Clerks II":

When a trusted fellow Smith fan warned, "Be prepared to be disappointed," I was bummed. When I read that Joel Siegel marched out of a screening, declaring, "That's it! I'm leaving," my hopes soared anew.

While watching "Clerks II," I laughed out loud -- and hard -- many times. For me, Dante (Brian O'Halloran), Randal (Jeff Anderson), Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Smith) haven't gotten old. Yet.

Laugh-out-loud scenes: Randal needling a "Lord of the Rings" geek (Kevin Weisman) to the point of vomiting; Elias (Trevor Ferhman) explaining that he's never had sex with his girlfriend because she has a troll in her private parts; Jay and Silent Bob talking about rehab and the Bible; the bachelor party.

The secret weapon of "Clerks II" is Ferhman as Elias, the "Transformers" and "Lord of the Rings"-obsessed virgin. The role is hilarious as written, but Ferhman takes it in surprising directions with his twitchy naivete. I'm already madly in love with Rosario Dawson, so she had me at hola.

Given the bestiality sequence, I'm surprised "Clerks II" got an R rating. Even though the camera cuts away during the actual acts, the principles are in full view and the witnesses give a blow-by-blow description of the action.

Two complaints.

One is: The movie didn't seem "big" enough -- which is a weird complaint coming from someone who DESPISES pumped-up Hollywood movies. Only a surprise dance sequence (to the tune of the Jackson 5's "ABC"), an amusement ride and the bachelor party provide a smidgen of heft. I get it that this isn't a Tom Cruise movie, but STILL. The bachelor party could have used 50 more patrons, easily. As Sam Arkoff once said to Roger Corman: "Roger, extras are cheap!"

The other is: That jailhouse scene. Smith does funny a LOT better than he does serious. It was brutal watching Randal actually work up tears. When he asks Jay and Silent Bob to cover their ears so they won't hear him tell Dante he loves him, that was the audience's cue to do the same.

I vote yes for "Clerks II," but my favorite Smith film is still "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back." There's nothing wrong with flat-out comedies -- unless, of course, they fail to make you laugh. I would welcome a "Bluntman and Chronic" movie with tons of cameos, in-jokes and pointed commentary on the overblown superhero genre. No one could do this better than Smith. Hell, I'd pay to see "Jay and Silent Bob Meet Frankenstein." I like to laugh.

NEXT POST: SOUND CHECK

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