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Clerks: Collector's Series

Review Written by: Estefan Ellison
Film: A+
Video/Audio/Extras: C/C+/C+

Directed by: Kevin Smith
Written by: Kevin Smith
Produced by: Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier
Starring: Brian O'Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Jason Mewes, Marilyn Chigliotti, Lisa Spoonhauer, Kevin Smith, Scott Mosier
Buy it!, Buy it, rent it or skip it: Skip it

When you look at the production history of many films, you wonder "Wow, how did that get finished on time and under budget?" One of my favourite examples is Steven Spielberg's Jaws. The mechanical shark rarely worked and the young director had to think of ways of how to film its scenes. Despite it ending up a brilliant piece of work, Jaws finished over time and over budget. Now, what about a film made on a really small budget. Kevin Smith was only allowed to film most of his scenes in Clerks at night time. What makes it even more extraordinary was that the place in question was where he worked. A colleague of mine said and I quote: "He was probably swallowing bottles of aspirin throughout the shoot." In the end, Smith made a wonderfully original and entertaining picture.

Clerks takes place on one whole day in the life of Dante Hicks (Brian O'Halloran), a Quick Stop clerk who isn't even supposed to be working on the day this film takes place in. Then again, if he didn't go to work, there wouldn't be this very funny story, would there? Across the street from the Quick Stop is a video rental place with terrible films and working there is Dante's best friend, Randal (Jeff Anderson). Throughout the day, the two have to deal with annoying costumers, hockey games on rooftops and two drug dealers who hang out outside the Quick Stop. One talks non-stop (Jason Mewes) and the other rarely speaks (Kevin Smith). However, when he does, it's something smart.

This being my completely first exposure to Kevin Smith, I was very open-minded while watching it. I don't think that really mattered, because I would have enjoyed Clerks either way. The dialogue is just as good as anything written by Robert Towne and Quentin Tarantino and for first-time actors, the performances are really good. I thought 1994 was a great year for supporting actors and it was already hard to choose between Samuel L. Jackson for Pulp Fiction, John Turturro for Quiz Show and Martin Landau for Ed Wood to be my choice for the best one of that year. You can add Jeff Anderson to my list of nominees, because he is absolutely brilliant as Randal. He gets the best lines and he says them brilliantly. Since this was filmed on a low budget and a cheap camera, I understand why the quality isn't very good, but since filmmakers have now used DVD technology to make their films look better, I don't understand why Kevin Smith couldn't do that. The sound could also have had gotten a re-working, although it is slightly better. The video gets a "C" grade and the audio gets a "C+" grade.

The extras are next and Miramax has produced some nice supplements for this disc. The first extra is an audio commentary with some of the cast and crew that worked on Clerks. Recorded on the set of Smith's second film Mallrats, this is a fun and lively commentary and it is obvious of the fun that they had working on the film. Some deleted scenes appear next, all of which are more like extended scenes. These are fun to watch, because they add more to the story, but they were probably deleted because it also slowed it down. There is also an alternate ending, which would have ended the film on a downnote. It's interesting to note that if Smith had kept this ending, he wouldn't be working on the sequel now. The final extras are the film's theatrical trailer and one of the best music videos I have ever watched.

Since this is such a cult hit, I'm surprised that Miramax didn't add more extras, because they should have so I give a grade of "C+." I say skip this edition of Clerks and buy the three-disc edition instead. After all, three discs are better than one.

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