Clerks (1994)

clerks poster 1994 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 4/10
Visuals: 7/10

Part of the new indie boom

Bad acting, too episodic

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Clerks

Studio:  View Askew Productions

Genre(s):  Comedy

Release Date(s):  October 19, 1994

MPAA Rating:  R


Work gets in the way of life…

Dante Hicks (Brian O’Halloran) isn’t supposed to work but gets called in.  While dealing with gum dealers, egg obsessed guidance counselers, and drug dealers Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith) camped out outside the store, Dante is debating dumping his girlfriend Veronica (Marilyn Ghigliotti) for his former (cheating) girlfriend Caitlin Bree (Lisa Spoonhauer) who is engaged to an Asian design major.  Half of Dante’s problems include his best friend Randal Graves (Jeff Anderson) who runs the attached video store and could not care less about his job…it’s going to be a long day.

Written and directed by Kevin Smith, Clerks was a low-budget independent comedy.  The movie was critically acclaimed and propelled Smith to fame.  The film had a small box office run but quickly gained a cult following on VHS.  The movie selected by the Library of Congress for induction into the National Film Registry in 2019.

I was a big fan of Clerks when it was released.  It was the ’90s indie boom after the release of Pulp Fiction and indie was king…then Kevin Smith became Kevin Smith and I soured a bit against the movie.  It is still probably one of Smith’s best, but it does have a lot of faults.


A little Jay & Silent Bob go a long way (I wish Smith would learn that).

The story is part of both Clerks’ strength and weakness.  Kevin Smith was writing realistic “slacker” dialogue.  He really had fun with it and things like the Star Wars Death Star discussion were things people joked about.  Unfortunately within the context of the movie it feels episodic and it doesn’t necessarily flow.  Smith breaks up the movie with titles that reference to The Divine Comedy, but it really feels like a divider for the next stand-up comedy routine.

The acting is all quite awful.  Smith (understandably) recruited mostly people he knew, and they aren’t the best actors.  They serve the purpose, but most sound like they are speaking the lines.  They don’t feel like they are living the dialogue (in fact, Smith actually kept a number of line flubs in the movie).  It sounds more “here comes the part I talk about cigarettes”.  Smith often goes back to the well for his movies and most of these actors still haven’t evolved much.


I’m not even supposed to be here today…

Visually, Smith chose to go black-and-white.  This does give the film some edginess.  He does do some good shots, but he also has some questionable shots.  It was a good choice to localize the movie to the convenience store/video store because it was in a way easier to shoot and gave Smith a bit more control (which he has proven to need).

I needed a break in viewing Clerks to review it now.  I’m rather tired of Smith’s style now and feel that he needs to evolve as a filmmaker.  I try to look at Clerks without thinking of this and in that sense it is a decent little film, but it is hard to get the taste of some of Smith’s other movies out of my mouth.  Clerks was followed by the mostly disappointing (and bigger budgeted) Mallrats in 1995 and a true sequel Clerks II in 2006.

Related Links:

Mallrats (1995)

Chasing Amy (1997)

Clerks II (2006)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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