Review by Sean Boelman
Kevin Smith’s View Askewniverse is one of the most unlikely series there is, having formed from an indie surprise success that was just Smith having fun with his friends. His newest movie, Clerks III, is perhaps his most emotionally authentic film yet, a fantastic ode to friendship and filmmaking that is a perfect conclusion to this arc.
The movie follows the Quick Stop crew as they set out to make a movie after Randall has an epiphany following a heart attack. It’s certainly a very sentimental, nostalgia-driven film, but for fans who have been with the series the whole way, it’s going to hit all the right beats without feeling unearned.
Of all of the movies in the View Askewniverse, this likely has the most pronounced plot. For the most part, it’s a good thing, because Smith manages to keep the vibes right while allowing it to close out the story of these characters we know and love. There is a perfect balance between laughs and heart, making this one of the most successful films in the series yet.
Inspired by Smith’s own near-death experience having a heart attack and completely changing his lifestyle as a result, the movie is much more existential than the rest of the View Askewniverse, save maybe Dogma. There’s still plenty of goofy stoner humor, but it’s all in service of an emotionally authentic storyline this time around.
For those who aren’t already invested in the story of Dante, Randall, and the crew, this probably isn’t the best entry point. Although it isn’t purely in-jokes like Jay and Silent Bob Reboot was, it’s still heavily dependent on already knowing the dynamic between the characters. Smith does have to strain to bring these characters to the modern day, resulting in the film’s few jokes that fall flat.
Jeff Anderson and Brian O’Halloran’s performances here are better than they have ever been before. Anderson, in particular, is thoroughly impressive. He hasn’t done much work outside of Smith’s movies, but he manages to carry the much more emotional parts of this film with ease. There are also some absolutely fantastic cameos in the movie, including one sequence that will have fans rolling with laughter.
Smith has definitely departed from the underground sensibilities that he started with in Clerks, but there are some choices here that are certainly very inspired. From the very opening moments of the film, Smith sets the tone of the movie with a needle drop that, while a bit typical, is a ton of fun.
Clerks III is exactly what fans want from the newest entry in the View Askewniverse, and would have served as a perfect conclusion to the series. Although we’re still getting the long-awaited sequel to Mallrats, this is nonetheless an excellent end to the Clerks portion.
Clerks III screens in theaters on September 13-18.