I came into the Kevin Smith fandom fold very late, in comparison to so many people. It was fairly soon after Chasing Amy was released that my buddy, Forrest, introduced me to MallRats. I had heard of Clerks in passing, and had a vague idea of what it was supposed to be, but never had I actually seen it. While I liked movies at that time, I just had not found out what it meant to really be a fan of anything other than Star Wars.
Even as the years passed, as Kevin released movie after movie, I would pick them up months or years after they hit the video store, mostly just to be able to say I had seen that, not because I was especially enthralled by his films. I liked his work, but it wasn’t Python!
It wasn’t until a couple years ago when I finally started to really fall in love with the ‘Dick and Fart’ genre for which Kevin is so famously known. Maybe my mental maturity level has regressed (ok, it definitely has) but this stuff is so much funnier to me now than it was when the first few movies were being released.
The first film I had the opportunity to see in the theater was Jersey Girl, but given the Bennifer connection, I passed up the chance to view this one on the big screen. Despite being very happy at the quick exit of J-Lo from the film, it was a bit flat and quite different from Smith’s other pieces. It had its moments, but just did not seem to reflect the genius he showed in his earlier work. Yes, this one ended up as a rental for me.
So, when Smith decided to return to his roots and do another Clerks, I was thrilled at the idea. Could he recapture that magic, that little slice of vulgar hilarity which so drew me to his first few films? In a word, no, he couldn’t. That’s not to say that I disliked 2 or that it was a bad sequel. Quite the opposite, I did like the movie, but what could be as good as the first? My mistake was in hoping that it could.
So, after the first hour of the film, of me laughing at all the items I had rolled through during downloaded previews, I just felt that this wasn’t going anywhere. The editing of the trailers seemed to outshine what was a very tossed together movie. I remember there being a lack of any real flow with the original, but was it this bad? It seemed as if Smith had just dropped a large number of funny scenes in a bag, pulled them out one by one, giving us a random film with no real coherence.
Thinking back over that first hour, I would still say it lacked a real flow, but I have begun to wonder if that wasn’t intentional. What in my life, in any given day, really has some kind of flow to it? Don’t I talk about how my life is a collection of weird situations without any order? Isn’t that really how things happen and not, as Hollywood would like us to believe, in a neat little 120 minute box where all threads are tied up neatly at the end? Maybe the genius really is still alive and kicking…
Which brings us to the last half hour, which does have a coherence, but better yet, a real kick that I just could not shake. Without giving away too much, the climax between Dante and Randal just rocked my world. It left me staring at the screen, knowing without a doubt that such conversations are real and not just something I happened to be watching in a movie. My college best friend, Curtis, and I could, were he still alive, have that exact same conversation. The word 'fitting’ just does not do it justice.
Leaving the theater, I drove home in a bit of a daze. Several blogs back, I was writing about what to do with the income this new job is bringing me and how some of the books I was reading was talking about success. This movie brought me back around to the other side of the argument, the one where I have historically resided. I still don’t measure success by the quantity of cash I have, but was I starting to fall that way? Give me a QuickStop any day, that place where I find myself happy, than a big bank account. But what is my QuickStop? That is a question to which I really have no answer. I don’t know where or what that one big thing in my life, that one that has made all the difference, really is.
This past weekend, having officiated Nathan and Sally’s wedding, started me thinking again as to what I’m really doing with my life. Nathan asked me, in all seriousness, when I was going to be a pastor. I thought my comments and delivery during the ceremony were good, but I don’t think I would go that far. Its nice to think he appreciated it though. But is that my QuickStop? Every time I’ve tried to go that way, I just get the door closed on me.
The one thing that keeps coming back, again and again, is writing. Sadly, I am having trouble even writing out a few comments in this blog. I’ve got two different draft items that have been waiting weeks to be finished up, but neither of them seem to be able to hold my attention long enough to actually complete.
Elias is the one character for whom I really feel sorry. I know what its like to be that kid, know all too well, and while he is portrayed as a bit one dimensional, there are plenty of people just like him in real life. I used to be one, I should know. If he were real, I would seriously hope that one day he grows up and learns that life is more than what he sees now. I also would hope that, if he has kids, he would not do to them what his parents have done to him. Life will just be one long set of Randal’s to him. His family may think they are protecting him, but in reality all they are doing is making him a more obvious target for that type of abuse.
So, good movie. Not the best thing ever filmed, but I will definitely own it and just might go see it again in the theater.
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