That’s so Clerks … III (CREDIT: Lionsgate)

Starring: Brian O’Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Trevor Fehrman, Austin Zajur, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Rosario Dawson, Amy Sedaris

Director: Kevin Smith

Running Time: 100 Minutes

Rating: R for Casual Potty Mouths

Release Date: September 13, 2022 (In Theaters September 13-18)

What’s It About?: Are Dante Hicks and Randal Graves stuck in purgatory? Or maybe they’re happy to still be working at the Quick Stop nearly 30 years after we first checked in with them. Randal (Jeff Anderson) is certainly his same happy-go-lucky self, but maybe he should take things a little more seriously, since Clerks III does start with him having a heart attack. But instead of focusing on eating healthy and exercising, he decides to direct a movie about life as a convenience store clerk. Uh-oh, is Kevin Smith making a stealth remake of his own signature film? Kinda-sorta, as there are plenty of in-jokes and callbacks, but he’s actually more concerned about just giving his characters some proper story arcs. So while Dante (Brian O’Halloran) gets roped into the whole production, he’s also pining after a now-deceased Becky (Rosario Dawson), while Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Smith) are still hanging out, and there’s also a whole lot of talk about crypto and NFTs.

What Made an Impression?: I’ve never seen the first Clerks, though it’s not for lack of interest. (It’s on my long to-watch list, I promise!) But I have seen Clerks II, every episode of the short-lived animated series, and now Clerks III. From my vantage point, it’s almost as if Numero Uno exists in a completely different universe. It emerged in black & white during the indie boom of the early 90s, and then II was released in the summer of 2006 as a crisp studio comedy. Now the third one is opting for a roadshow tour alongside a limited-time wide theatrical release. If you’re wondering why Clerks III even exists, it’s because Kevin Smith just wanted to make another one for all the people who have supported him over the years.

Considering the circuitous preproduction path and untraditional release strategy, it might be a little surprising how straightforward the plot is. Randal has a big idea, everyone else bands together to make it happen, then he and Dante have a falling out, and finally the whole crew ultimately realizes what’s truly important. This is by-the-books comedy feature writing, nothing revolutionary about it. And that’s okay! Sometimes we just want to check in on our friends and see how they’re doing. And if you can throw in a running gag about size anxiety, go for it. It might be a little juvenile, sure, but it’s also open-minded and comforting. In conclusion, I chuckled here and there, I soaked up the bonhomie, and I was happy to live another day.

Clerks III is Recommended If You Like: Late 90s/Early 2000s Alt-Rock, Shameless celebrity friend cameos, Eternal youth evolving into something a little more adult

Grade: 3 out of 5 Moobys