Clerks III is continuation of the View Askewniverse, the collection of films written and directed by Kevin Smith.
Beginning with 1994’s Clerks, this latest iteration sees Brian O’Halloran and Jeff Anderson returning to their roles from the original film, joined by Rosario Dawson, who first appeared in the franchise in 2006’s Clerks II. We meet Dante and Randall still working at the convenience store, but after Randall has a heart attack, an echo from Smith’s own experience, he recruits Dante into a scheme to make a movie about their convenience store lives – a film that is almost a carbon copy of Clerks.
For those who aren’t fans of Kevin Smith, Clerks III is not going to work in the same way that it worked for me. The presumed conclusion to the trilogy pushes all of the nostalgia buttons before the third act raises the film’s emotional stakes and pays off all the set-up. The final moments of Clerks III are profound and poignant, some of the best work Smith has written.
The emotional depth in Clerks III may not be something one would expect from a director known for scatological and drug humor, and Clerks III includes its fair share of those kinds of jokes. Also, I can understand people who aren’t fans of Smith and don’t have the emotional connection to these characters finding the conflict facile. And Smith’s direction is cinematically uninteresting; he basically puts his camera on a tripod and has a steady two-shot on characters talking.
But for fans of Smith and the View Askewniverse, Clerks III is a can’t miss film and a deep retrospective on the lives of characters we’ve known for thirty years.