3 For the Road: Clerks III Review

For people of a certain age, the Kevin Smith universe is one in which most have at least stepped foot in. From the original Clerks, to it’s sequel, to all the movies that are (relatively) canon, Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, millions are familiar with the interactions and catchphrases set in suburban New Jersey. The characters and in jokes that criss cross the landscape created by Smith. But as all things, there must be an ending. Why did it have to be so damn sad?

***There are no real spoilers in this review. Not totally sure you would believe me, anyway***

Clerks III sets to wrap up the trilogy that started with Kevin Smith’s black and white low budget hit Clerks. In fact, Clerks III is kind of a “based on a true story” version of the making of the original. Like the original and second movie, the story revolves around convenience store employees turned owners Dante and Randal, along with their inner circle of miscreants in Jay, Silent Bob, Elias, and joining the crew for the third movie, Blockchain Coltrane, a lackey for Elias, himself a lackey for Randal.

Be forewarned about this movie: it is definitely 90 minutes of inside jokes and one running gag that is absolutely amazing and includes King Diamond and Fifth Element references. If you are coming into this movie cold, or even as a fairly lapsed fan, there is definitely a chance you are going to miss quite a bit of the references in this movie. In fact, this movie feels like a love letter written by Kevin Smith to his most die hard fans.

They brought back nearly every living character from the original movies, including Mallrats. The most touching return might be Marilyn Ghigliotti, who played Dante’s girlfriend Veronica in the first movie, and is the inspiration for some of the most memorable quotes from the first movie. Just as this movie seems to be veering too far off in one direction, she returns for much needed brevity and becomes a character you realize was so crucial to the heart of the first movie, much as she is to this one.

Watching this movie, I felt a creeping sadness come across me, knowing that as the movie went on, this was definitely (probably) the end point for a lot of these characters. Jay and Silent Bob exist in both their own world and the Clerks world, and can continue to make more movies. In fact, Jason Mewes has come far enough along over the decades that he plays as possibly the most smooth actor in the entire movie.

The ending to the movie is sad but fulfilling. It really broke me in the theater because i’ve become so invested in the characters within the universe. But there is also something incredibly beautiful about Smith wrapping up the movie with familiar characters being ridiculous (Jay and Silent Bob) and a blond woman checking milk expiration dates in the dairy aisle. In the original movie, the role was played by Kevin Smith’s mom. Here in the finale, it is played by Kevin Smith’s daughter.

It’s worth staying through the credits. There isn’t a whole Marvel Universe preview or anything, but instead Kevin Smith speaking to his inspirations for the first movie, and the desire to complete the trilogy the way he wanted to do it.

The movie feels bigger because it reminds you of how much you identify with characters and how they feel like friends and family to you. They might be characters on a screen, but after nearly thirty years, they feel like so much more. The joy and loss hits you differently. And for a universe built on the ridiculous and outrageous, the ending reminds you of the reality of loss, and hurt, and the feeling of moving on.

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