Clerks deserves to be seen for its audacity alone. Kevin Smith wrote and directed this film for $28,000 dollars and, though the budget constraints are obvious, the dialogue can be very funny and the character depictions are dead on.
The story centers around Dante (Brian O’Halloran), a twenty-something college dropout who works in a New Jersey convenience store and his friend, Randall (Jeff Anderson), who works the video counter next door. We spend a “professional” day with each of these guys. While Dante attempts to do his job with some degree of responsibility, Randall is openly abusive to his customers. Most of their time is spent talking to each other about sex, hockey and Dante’s obsession with an ex-girlfriend.
The only real time we spend outside is when Dante closes the store to play hockey on the roof and a quick segment where he and Randall stop by the wake of another ex-girlfriend and accidentally topple her casket. This story is told between the cigarette counter and the snack cake aisle. It is told by freakish customers, drug dealers and sluts.
In truth, Clerks is much better suited for the stage than it is for the screen. The film footage looks like it was taken from a convenience store surveillance camera, and I haven’t seen actors this stiff outside the county morgue. But what sustains the movie is its self-confidence. As Randall says, “Title does not dictate behavior. People dictate their own behavior.” Clerks’ in-your-face attitude never wavers.