Clerks III (2022)

Director: Kevin Smith

Running Time: 101 Minutes

Certification: 15

Starring: Brian O'Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Marilyn Ghigliotti, Rosario Dawson, Trevor Fehrman, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Amy Sedaris, Justin Long

Released in 1994, Clerks was a landmark for independent cinema which saw convenience-store clerks in their twenties faced with the endless directions they could take. The sequel, 2006's Clerks II, had the characters in their thirties questioning the directions their lives had taken. Over fifteen-years since their last appearance, Kevin Smith returns to the characters who kickstarted his career, now nearing fifty while facing their own mortality.

Opening in the same place as the prior two films, Dante (Brian O’Halloran) and Randal (Jeff Anderson) are still behind the Quick Stop counter. Despite owning it, little has changed as they handle quirky customers and play hockey on the roof. When Randal has a heart attack, he decides to make something of his slacker life by making a movie about it.

Using Randal as a surrogate for himself, Smith gets meta as the in-universe filming revolves around elements which made-up the first Clerks film. It can become self-indulgent, particularly with how many times the line "I'm not even supposed to be here today" is used, while a moment commenting on dated elements feels too half-hearted to work. Yet, within the joy of seeing these characters making this unpolished film, there's a touching trip down memory lane for Smith, the characters, and the fans.

As ever, key to the film is the charming friendship between Randal and Dante. While the former may act aloof regarding their feelings, as in the fun debate over which Star Wars character they'd each be, the genuine care they share is captured by the performances. O'Halloran and Anderson feel at home in these roles, and effectively capture what they've faced since audiences first saw their characters on-screen.

The biggest disappointment comes in how underserved Rosario Dawson is. After being a bright spark within the second film, it's unfortunate she's relegated to a prop to help Dante's emotional journey instead of her own character. More screentime is given to Elias, who wears thin as he undergoes a crisis of faith. Thankfully, there's such enjoyment to be had in supporting performances by Amy Sedaris and Justin Long.

While the film closes with a last-minute conflict receiving a rather convenient resolution, the most effective moment comes immediately afterwards. After a mixed-bag which got nostalgia heavy, Smith ends this trilogy with a quietly effective moment that's among his best scenes. It's a touching way to close the book on these characters, while effectively capturing the retail experience.

Clerks III is available on Digital Download now, and on DVD & Blu-Ray from 26th December