Release Date: 19 October 1994 (USA)
Cast: Brian O’Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Marilyn Ghigliotti
Running Time: 1hr 32min
Dante is not happy. His boss has called him to tell him he needs to come in for his job at the Quick Stop convenience store. It’s his day off, but he agrees anyway, and things start to go wrong. For a start, the shutter is jammed, then he gets into altercations with numerous pain-in-the-backside customers.
To pass the time, Dante hangs out with his slacker friend Randall who works at RST Video next door. The two friends talk about meaningless stuff to help pass the day, and Dante discovers his high school girlfriend, with whom he’s been in contact, is married. This leads to tension with his current girlfriend, and Dante is ultimately torn between the two women.
After a series of unfortunate events, including a rooftop hockey game, slackers Jay and Silent Bob terrorizing the store, and a customer dying, Dante has finally had enough. A fight breaks out between Dante and Randall, with the former proclaiming his mantra from the film “I’m not even supposed to be here today.” Randall castigated his friend for blaming everyone else for his problems, and says he needs to take more responsibility. They reconcile, and Dante leaves to make up with his girlfriend, Randall proclaiming “You’re closed.”
The film where nothing happens. Clerks is one of those movies where, if it were made now, you’d wonder if someone was taking the proverbial. But, in the independent film market of the early 1990s, it was the perfect choice. Made by a grocery store clerk with no prior experience, on a budget of $27,575, the movie was a runaway success.
Kevin Smith has gone on to have a varied, but mostly successful, career. Many would argue he’s never topped this effort, and there’s something to be said for that (Chasing Amy aside). Clerks showed up-and-coming filmmakers that you could do something with very little. As Smith once put it: “it showed that anyone, anywhere could make a movie.”
Today, even against the canvas of Smith’s back catalogue, Clerks remains a shining light. The movie became an instant cult classic, and is revered by critics, fans, and filmmakers across the world. The authentic, simplistic, and inventive movie has spawned many imitations, but none have ever quite reached these heights of brilliance. It’s just a shame Smith’s career has gone so downhill in recent years. If he could only capture some of the innocence and charm of Clerks, he’d be on his way back up again.