Of course, this isn’t the first time I’ve seen this movie. Allow me to date myself: the first time I saw Clerks was as a poor college student; the movie was shown as part of a free movie series. It was projected onto a white sheet in an empty classroom; the start time was ten at night; admission was free. The atmosphere- complete with one-arm student desks- was addictive. The audience had an immediate bonding experience, and the fact that none of us had spent money meant that we felt free to laugh harder and quip about the movie. Watching free movies in classrooms, and two-dollar recent releases at the student union, nurtured my love of movies and is probably why I’m writing reviews now. The atmosphere does contribute to how one sees a movie; I’ve heard professional critics talk about the rest of the audience in the screening.
But I digress. I watched the movie again after over ten years, not knowing what to expect. It was fun ten years ago; would it be fun now?
Yes. The low-budget brilliance was just as funny. The pace was a bit slow in sections but the comedy played very well. Though I’ve only seen the movie twice, I could understand why it was a cult classic worthy of viewing over and over again. It is, of course, entirely implausible, but who cares? The film pushes the envelope just far enough to make the audience shocked into laughter.
All considered, I wasn’t as in love with the movie as I thought I would be. As I said, the pace was occasionally very slow; while it adequately conveyed the numbing pace of working in a convenience store, it wasn’t entertaining as an audience member. The acting is spotty in places, completely pulling me out of the experience.
This is the first three-star movie that I’m still highly recommending. It’s not the most entertaining epic of our time. But it’s part of the American pop cultural fabric, referenced repeatedly in television, print, and movies. I recommend that if you are thirty-something, you should watch Clerks and understand the brilliance of Kevin Smith.