Review: Clerks III

Director: Kevin Smith

Stars: Bryan O’Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Trevor Fehrman

I’d like to take just a moment to delineate a critical review from a personal one, because there is a difference. A majority of the time, writing on here, I make a concerted effort to write fairly, putting aside for the most part personal biases. I imagine most people who write passionately about film wrestle with this same conundrum. Because the reader is always in mind.

I save personal reviews and snark for elsewhere. Letterboxd mainly. The short response to Clerks III below is copy/pasted from my Letterboxd account. It’s my initial reaction to the movie, written hastily directly after seeing it, it’s merits (or distinct lack of) swirling around in what passes for my brain.

Yes, this is a copy/paste job. I’m not putting the effort in on a more nuanced review this time. Simply because, after sleeping on it, I’m comfortable in my opinion that the film just doesn’t deserve one. I have better things to do with my time and, frankly, so do you.

Here’s how I reacted then. Go watch anything else.

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“If I wanted to spend 100 minutes suffering sad-sack bores twatting on and on about fucking Star Wars I’d have unmuted the words on Twitter and doom-scrolled til I couldn’t take it any longer.

This was just insufferable in every way. Like meeting up with a childhood friend only to crushingly discover that they haven’t matured at all and, if anything, have burrowed further into the recessive tics and quirks you once overlooked but which now define their whole being. Defects of character so enormous you feel the need to stage an intervention. But I fear nobody’s going to do that for Smith. Nobody’s stopping him.

After Tusk I vowed never to watch another movie by Smith, but the goodwill of Clerks II suckered me back. More fool me. Smith must’ve been giggling with glee when he realised “being meta” meant he didn’t have to come up with a third story for these flimsy, increasingly dated characters. The resulting work might as well come with an “80% original footage!” sticker stamped on it.

A movie that genuinely tells its audience to Live. Love. Laugh. Well, not laugh, because it doesn’t bring the funny. Not once. Not even a little bit. Filmmaking this tepid has no business being this condescending. Smith imposing his learned middle-age wisdom onto us ought not feel like a patronising lesson in the basics of being a person, and tiny dick jokes don’t counteract this degree of ham-fisted, mawkish sentimentality.

And what this did to Becky? A Hicks hasn’t been treated this contemptibly since Alien³, and I go to bat for that movie. Smith may actually manage to be responsible for the worst film of the decade two decades in a row. Incredible effort.

I’ve never felt robbed by a cinema before. Except here I handed over my wallet willingly. What a cuck.”

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There it is. Not my finest work on here, but maybe my most honest.

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