Written & Directed by Kevin Smith
Starring Brian O’Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Marilyn Ghigliotti, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, & Lisa Spoonauer
Release Date: October 19, 1994
Running Time: 1hr 32min
Convenience store employee, Dante Hicks (O’Halloran), is forced to come into work on his day off and deal with a variety of issues, both personal and professional. Besides the variety of annoying/idiot customers and the steel shutter locks being jammed with gum (bunch of savages in this town), he’s still harboring feelings for his ex girlfriend, Caitlin (Spoonauer; who cheated on him 8 1/2 times), while currently in a relationship with Veronica (Ghigliotti; who has sucked 37 dicks, but has remained faithful and loving to him since they’ve been together).
Joining him in the daily drudgery is co-worker/best friend, Randal Graves (Anderson; who primarily runs the next door video store, not that he stays there much), who has no qualms about messing with the customers (be it a casual insult or straight up spitting on them), and tells Dante he’d feel a hell of a lot better if he just vented his frustrations. There’s also the occasional disruption by drug dealing duo Jay and Silent Bob (Mewes, Smith).
Director Kevin Smith primarily funded the film’s $28,000 budget by maxing out various credit cards with $2,000 limits (had it failed he would’ve been in debt the rest of his life), selling a large portion of his comic book collection, dipping into his college funds, and collecting insurance on a car he lost in a flood. As he was still working at Quick Stop Groceries and RST Video when making the film, he had to shoot mainly at nights when the store was closed (hence the subplot with the shutters).
Clerks went on to be a huge financial success, making over $3 million at the box office, launching Smith’s filmmaking career (he was also able to repurchase the comics his originally sold). The movie has since gone on to spawn comic book spinoffs (also written by Smith), a short lived 2000 animated series, and a 2006 sequel (characters have also appeared in other films by Smith, in an interconnected universe).
This is one of my all time favorite films (currently sat at number 7). There are certainly better made films out there (which I also greatly enjoy), but this one had a big impact on me growing up. The dialogue has a great, natural flow to it that can make a scene feel dynamic even when the camera is staying perfectly still, and is full of pop culture references and four letter words that I love to use myself on a regular basis! While the acting varies in quality throughout, you can tell the cast (many friends of Smith) are doing their best and having fun. I do feel that Brian O’Halloran and Jeff Anderson have great chemistry and are very believable as friends who’ve known each other a long time (which at the time wasn’t the case in real life). Jason Mewes is super energetic as Jay, Marilyn Ghigliotti is a tiny ball of tough gal energy, and Lisa Spoonauer (who sadly passed away in 2017) does a good job even with her role not being as prominent as everyone else’s.
I had the great honor to meet various cast members from this movie at a comic book convention in 2017 (I had actually Met O’Halloran circa 2002 or 2003, where he hosted a talent show at my hometown university, a last minute replacement for Mewes), and got them to sign my 10th anniversary DVD. In addition to getting photo ops with them, there was also a surprise photo op with Smith and Mewes (wasn’t able to get Smith’s autograph, but some day!)!