'Clerks 2': Return of the Sarcastic Slacker

In the movie Clerks 2, director Kevin Smith returns to the world of underpaid, overly sarcastic service workers, 12 years after his debut about a convenience store. Dante and Randall, the title characters in Clerks, operated under the tagline "Just because they serve you ... doesn't mean they like you." In the sequel, the working-slacker ethos is still worth a laugh — and still a good way to frame humor guaranteed to offend.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

It's 12 years since movie audiences were introduced to Dante and Randall, the title characters in the independent comedy Clerks. The film was set in a Quick Stop convenience store and its tag line was Just because they serve you, doesn't mean they like you.

Bob Mondello says they've warmed up just a little in Clerks 2.

BOB MONDELLO, movie critic:

The opening shot shows Dante raising the metal door that covers the Quick Stop storefront. It and he are in black and white, as they were in the first movie. What's inside, though, is orange and yellow. The Quick Stop is in flames.

(Soundbite of Clerks 2)

Mr. JEFF ANDERSON (as Randall Graves): I left the coffee pot on again, didn't I?

MONDELLO: That's Randall, the video store guy who is still Dante's best buddy, even in color. They are, 12 years after the first movie, no longer 20. They're now thicker in the waist and possibly even thicker in the head. Still having the same sort of moronic conversations they did at the Quick Stop. After the fire, though, they have them at their new place of employ, the cow-themed hamburger joint Moobies.

(Soundbite of Clerks 2)

Mr. BRIAN O'HALLORAN (Dante Hicks): What are you writing over there, anyway? Your memoirs?

Mr. ANDERSON: I'm battling this jackass on his blog's message board.

Mr. O'HALLORAN: About what?

Mr. ANDERSON: On how he's got too much free time and no life. It's this guy in a wheelchair that's always preying on everyone's sympathies, writing these long diatribes about how he'll never walk again and how walkers should appreciate the blessings of their functioning legs. So I've been getting into it with him, throwing it back in his stupid, crippy boy face about how I love to just sit around and how I'd rather drive to the end of the block than walk.

Mr. O'HALLORAN: The guy's in a wheelchair.

Mr. ANDERSON: Yeah. That's why I called him crippy boy. Have a good one.

MONDELLO: If you find that exchange amusingly appalling rather than just appalling, then Clerks 2, once called the Passion of the Clerks, may be right up your alley. It's a lot like the first movie, though with higher profile supporting players like Wanda Sykes, Jason Lee and Ben Affleck joining the likes of Jay and Silent Bob. There's also a plot this time, admittedly a loose one, mostly about Dante's upcoming ill-advised marriage. His boss, played by Rosario Dawson, tries to advise him as he's painting her toenails.

(Soundbite of Clerks 2)

Ms. ROSARIO DAWSON (Becky): Come on, Dante. She was the girl who wouldn't give you the time of day back in high school. And years later, after she's played the field and realized how unsatisfying the so-called hotties are, she's finally gone with someone who looks -

Mr. O'HALLORAN: Oh, my God. You're going to say fugly, aren't you?

Ms. DAWSON: Unconventional!

Mr. O'HALLORAN: Oh, nice back pedal.

Ms. DAWSON: Thank you.

MONDELLO: Director Kevin Smith, perhaps knowing that this romantic stuff will play to an older demographic than the first movie's sex, drugs and video chatter did, has included one new, younger clerk, Elias, played by a very funny Trevor Fehrman, who has absorbed pop culture without processing it, particularly. Elias thinks Frodo and Gandalf are gods. He sneers at Luke and Leia, and he is hilariously ill-informed about sex. His naiveté serves to counteract some of the raunch in the film's grossest conceits, a donkey sex scene, for instance.

The director has five more pictures under his belt than when he made the first Clerks, so the sequel has a more polished look, which does not work in its favor, particularly. But the working slacker ethos is still fun in Clerks 2, as is the fact that the film has something to offend most people over, say, well, puberty, really.

I'm Bob Mondello.

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