June 15, 2006, the day I spoke with Brian O’Halloran and Jeff Anderson about CLERKS 2, the sequel to Kevin Smith’s indie cult classic, CLERKS, was marked by a tremor at 5am. Brian had been lathering up in the shower (as he put it), Jeff had been sleeping peacefully, and they were both disappointed to have missed it feeling it. Fortunately, that didn’t dampen their enthusiasm for talking about bringing Dante and Randal back to the big screen. The conversation relived the some of magic of the first film, touched lightly on the seemingly irreconcilable differences between fans of Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, and considered why bad taste can sometimes make for cinema’s funniest moments ever.
Clerks 2 isn’t just everything a perfect sequel should be, it’s everything a superb film should be, too. Right on top of the zeitgeist, and fiendishly clever in it commentary on it, it skewers political correctness within a profane framework that unwaveringly champions middle class values with an infectious elan.
It picks up with the eponymous clerks, Dante (Brian O’Halloran) and Randal (Jeff Anderson) exactly where we left them in the original over a decade ago, at the Quick Stop. In a slick prologue done in the original’s black-and-white, Dante arrives one morning to open for business only to find his exit from entropy blazing before him. Literally and in full color. That would be the fire engulfing the convenience store and the video rental place next door, leaving Dante, introspective and full of free-floating longings, pondering, still, what to do with his life, and Randal, babbling strong opinions backed up by dubious facts, pondering where he will be taking chicks for sex when his mother’s home. Cut to a year later and one fateful day in both their lives. They’re still clerking, but at Mooby’s, a bovine-themed fast-food chain whose garish colors and delicacies such as the Cow Tipper makes one long for the black-and-white days of the Quick Stop. It’s Dante’s last day before moving to Florida with velvet steamroller Emma (Jennifer Schwalbach), his dream woman, there to marry, manage a car wash, and settle down to a life of being told what to do by his better half. Randal is coping with his feelings of abandonment by taunting the third member of the sales staff, Elias (twitchy but earnest puppy Trevor Fehrman) even more than usual about his born-again Christian state, and his abiding affection for Go-Bots and “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Oh, and there’s that donkey show, or rather, inter-species erotica, he’s planning as Dante’s going away present.