Clerks

Released:  1994

Cast:  Brian O’Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Marilyn Ghigliotti, Jason Mewes, Lisa Spoonhauer

SUMMARY:  Dante Hicks (Brian O’Halloran) is a 22-year-old who has a dead-end job at a convenience store.  When the film starts, Dante is called into work on his day off, but tells his boss that he has to leave at 12:00 because he has a hockey game.  When Dante gets to the store, he finds that he cannot open the metal door shutters, as someone has jammed them with gum.  Dante is unhappy about having to work, and his mood does not improve with the series of customers that come in.  One of these is a representative for a chewing gum company, who holds an impromptu lecture on the perils of smoking and incites customers to throw cigarettes at Dante.  He is rescued by his girlfriend Veronica (Marilyn Ghigliotti), a college student who he has been dating for seven months.  Later in the day, Dante’s best friend Randal (Jeff Anderson) arrives to work in the video-rental store next door to the convenience store.  Though Randal is the only one working in the video store, he routinely locks up and goes over to the convenience store to talk to Dante.  They have discussions on a wide variety of subjects, everything from whether or not innocent people were killed when the second Death Star blew up (in Return of the Jedi) to Dante’s apparent obsession with his high school girlfriend Caitlin.  Despite his relationship with Veronica, Dante is unable to fully forget Caitlin, especially when he earns that she is recently engaged.

Around midday, Dante learns that he will not be able to leave at noon, as his boss (who was going to come in to work) has left on a trip.  Dante is infuriated, and decides to have his hockey game anyway.  He calls in his friends, locks the store, and starts the game on the roof of the store.  A customer arrives and joins in the game, but abruptly shoots their sole ball off the roof and into a storm drain.  This only adds to Dante’s distress about the day, as the game was only 12 minutes old.  Dante goes back to work, but when he learns that another ex-girlfriend has died, he and Randal close both stores and go to the wake.  Unfortunately, Randal knocks over the casket, and the two make an abrupt exit.  In the evening, Caitlin shows up at the store to see Dante.  She informs him that her engagement was a mistake, and that she plans to break it; she also wants to get back together with Dante.  Even though he is dating Veronica, Dante cannot send Caitlin away, and ultimately agrees to a date.  He goes home to change, leaving Randal in charge of the store.  When he gets back, Caitlin emerges from the bathroom believing that she has just had sex with Dante.  Unfortunately, the man in the bathroom was not Dante:  it was another man who had come in to use the restroom earlier, and died there.  Caitlin becomes catatonic after this, and is taken away by ambulance.  After a conversation with Silent Bob, a marijuana dealer who operates outside the convenience store with his partner Jay, Dante realizes that he really loves Veronica.  Unfortunately, she is furious with him as she has learned about his date with Caitlin (from Randal).  The two men get into a fight that wrecks the convenience store, and Dante accuses Randal of causing all the trouble that wears him down, but Randal retorts that it is Dante’s fault that he is miserable, because of the choices he has made.  The two ultimately make up; Dante resolves to talk to Veronica and check on Caitlin, then closes the store.

MY TAKE:  So the amazing thing about this movie is that even though nothing really happens, it’s fairly entertaining.  It just follows an average day in Dante’s life, but there’s subliminal deeper meanings (like Dante’s refusal to accept that his own choices have led to his displeasure with his life).  Randal steals most of the scenes, although Jay and Silent Bob (who later had their own movie) take a few.  Randal initially comes off like an idiot, but as the movie goes on you realize that he (and Dante, for that matter) is a lot smarter than he lets on.  The difference between him and Dante is that Randal has accepted that he has a dead-end job, and is okay with it:  Dante clearly wants more, but seems unwilling to make a change.  If Randal’s boss knew how he ran the video store, I think he would have to make a change, too, because he’s a lousy employee.  He opens the store late, frequently closes it for large chunks of time to talk to Dante, and drives away a number of customers with his attitude.  Dante’s a pretty good employee, actually.  He’s clearly capable of a lot more, but he’s pleasant to the customers and does what he’s supposed to (he’s forever doing inventory, etc.).  The decision to close and hold a hockey game on the roof, then go to a wake, probably wasn’t exemplary, but it has to be pretty boring to work in a convenience store.  And, as Dante repeatedly states, he wasn’t even supposed to be there that day.

RATING:  Not bad, surprisingly.

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