Kevin Patrick Smith was born in August 1970 in Monmouth County, New Jersey. He just turned 52 years old. I was born in January 1971 so I'll be 52 in a few months and, though I was technically born in a hospital in Brooklyn, New York, I was raised in Monmouth County, New Jersey about fifteen minutes or so from where Kevin Smith grew up. I was a "theater geek" acting in high school plays while Kevin had a desire to be a filmmaker. In 1994, Smith's first film, Clerks, was released to critical acclaim and has since become a "cult classic". In 2006 a sequel, Clerks II, was released and this month Clerks III will be headed to theaters for one week only.
Dante Hicks (Brian O'Halloran; Mallrats) co-owns a convenience store in Leonardo, NJ. With his friend Randal Graves (Jeff Anderson; Zack and Miri Make a Porno). The two have worked there for over twenty years with the same group of regulars coming into the store every week. When Randal suddenly has a heart attack (reminiscent of Smith's own heart attack experience in 2018), he sees life differently than before and decides he wants to make a movie about working at the convenience store - and the now defunct video store before that. With all of their friends' help and Dante as producer, Randal films his first feature film (as Smith did back in 1994).
Much of the original cast returns for this final chapter in the NJ convenience store trilogy and it is obvious they have the same chemistry they did so long ago. Rosario Dawson (The Mandalorian) who plays Dante's wife makes a few appearances in the film in an attempt to help Dante work through some of his difficult emotions. Ben Affleck (Argo), Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), and Justin Long (Live Free or Die Hard) all have short but funny cameos. Of course, Jay (Jason Mewes; Dogma) and Silent Bob (Smith) have a few scenes and make them memorable as usual.
While Clerks III is supposed to be mimicking the 1994 Clerks, one of the main differences is that this one is in color as opposed to the black and white color scheme we got in 1994. Understandably that cast is much older now with expanding waistlines and a bit more grey hair. Smith even comments in his end credits speech about how, due to budgetary concerns, the original film was shot in black and white and this latest color version is how he had always intended the movie to be shot.
Clerks III brings Smith's trilogy full circle, even though he has written, produced, and directed other movies in between. My only complaint is that the ending goes to a dark place which, on the one hand, is kind of a bummer. Without going into detail, the movie ends in a way that will satisfy only the most diehard fans that are aware there is an alternate ending to the first film.
As I said earlier, having grown up near Kevin Smith in New Jersey, this trilogy holds a special place in my heart. From the cheesy convenient store, playing roof hockey, and the various "characters" that walk through that door of the store, the nostalgia brings me back to my High school days.
One moment especially stood out for me and had me screaming "Oh My God". If you are unfamiliar with the "Evil Clown" of Middletown, you should Google it. That big, ugly, scary clown is a precious part of my childhood so, as I stated, seeing it made me long for my lost youth and my friends.
Clerks III isn't Smith's greatest movie but it ends the series cleanly and offers fans a heartwarming look back to all that came before.