Friday, July 21, 2006

Looking To The Stars - Clerks 2 and Civil War #3

First, A Few Words To The Wise…

There is a Clerks 2 Review here, but this is going to be sappy, emotional and above all thoughtful criticism for the most part. So if you just want to know if it is funny or worth seeing, the short version is Yes. It is funny. Jay and Silent Bob are in it. Randall is his usual crass self. And Dante is still Fate’s Chamberpot. If you want to learn something, stick around. If not, enjoy the flick.

Last week, in case you didn’t read it, I spoke a bit about how the movie Clerks changed my life for the better at a time when I was younger, more foolish and wondering what to do with my life while being trapped in a crummy job and lacking direction.

Now, nearly ten years after I saw that film, I am a little bit older, relatively less foolish and am trying to find a respectable full-time job. I’ve also found that I also have about the same hold on the direction I am going in as I did when I was 18. Which is, ironically, very much the same situation Dante Hicks is in as Clerks 2.

As the movie opens, Dante’s future seems fairly certain. Free of the Quick Stop and RST Video for nearly a year, Dante is going into his last day of work at the Mooby’s Fast Food place. He has a fiance who is getting ready to drag him down to Florida and an easy life in a house bought by his in-laws, managing a car wash owned by his father-in-law and generally getting away from the Hell that has been the first 33 years of his life.

It gives nothing away to say that naturally, things get complicated and that by the end of the film, everything has been put in jeopardy. Comic antics ensue, of course. There is much comedic geekery, including a much needed slam of the live-action Transformers movie, a view of Fantasy Fandom vs. Sci-Fi Fandom and a hilarious dissertation upon the accidental use of racial slurs.

But underneath the “stupid humor for smart people” as Kevin Smith once said when asked to describe his movies, there is a big heart and a big message to this film. Dante Hicks, like Hamlet, is a man doomed by his inaction and indecisiveness and Randall is his Horatio. If the first Clerks taught us that we are often the architects of our own prisons, this Clerks teaches us that life is too short to spend worrying about what you should do with your life if you don’t live your life, for good or ill, in the first place.

A less mature Smith might have illustrated this point with a Star Wars quote; “Do or do not; there is no try,” could have done the lackluster Dante a lot of good about 15 years earlier. But he is past that point and so is most of Smith’s audience. Instead, Smith offers more subtle tributes to his influences – including a musical montage to “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” that hails rather than mocks Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and a black-to-white fade that suggests, much like The Wizard of Oz, that there is no place like home. And like before, the movie ends with a Soul Asylum song. And a very good Soul Asylum song, at that I should say.

In short, the movie is not just a laugh-fest. It’s got an important thought behind it as well. And you get to see a lot more of Jason Mewes than most people would want to see. If that’s not worth your six clams, I don’t know what is.

And since my review of Clerks 2 was a littler shorter and sweeter than I expected, here’s a bonus review – short version and a longer version – of Civil War #3.

Now, long time readers know that I’m not a big fan of Mark Millar. In the past, I’ve referred to him as a poor man’s Grant Morrison and as a pitiful hack who was plundering better storylines from DC Comics in order to continue his work at Marvel. His run on Spider-Man, for instance, being a poorly executed, continuity-ignoring parody of Jeph Loeb’s Hush.

It will probably be a surprise, then, for me to say that I liked the story of Civil War #3 very much.

Seriously, you don’t get better than this for sheer drama. Two groups of heroes, divided by a political dispute on the field of battle as indifferent politicians look on. And then a third party, who would benefit from the hero’s destruction, unleashes a magical, electric force that is capable of destroying them all.

Truly inspiring stuff. And I did love it… when I read that exact same story in Kindgom Come.

(Oh come on. You didn’t think I was really going to say something good about a Mark Millar book, did you?)

For the short review, I hand the podium over to my illustrious and illustrated fictional colleague, J. Jonah Jameson.

The Short Review

Tune in next week. Same Matt time. Same Matt website.

Visit our blog at:


  1. I've been on the fence about seeing Clerks 2. At first, I thought, "Meh, didn't Smith say he was done with the View Askewniverse? Isn't he pulling a Lucas now by going back on his word?" and that was that, but as I see more trailers, read more interviews and go over more reviews, I'm second guessing myself. I think by weekend's end, I'll have seen it . . .
    And Civil War is doing very little for me, thank you very much. Marvel hasn't done anything in years that has me excited about them as a company (I read one regular Marvel book these days - Exiles - and that's hardly enough to get the old Marvel Zombie in me a'shufflin'). I love the comparison to Kingdom Come - well said! Or should I say, "'Nuff said!"

  2. Guess you didn't hear the story...
    Yeah, Smith DID promise that he was done with the Askewniverse. But that promise got superceded by another promise.
    See, it was an on-again/off-again problem with varying degress of severity, but Jason Mewes did become an honest to goodness junkie. And while Smith and company was usually able to get him in rehab and get him to promise to clean up for enough time to get the movies made... he always wound up crashing to Earth.
    Well, after the eventual wake-up call (you can read the whole story at Kevin Smith's blog - ), Smith figured that Jay needed a motivator since he had always done his best when he had a film to look forward to. So Smith said that if Jay could stay clean for X ammount of time, he'd put Jay and Bob in his next film.
    And then when he was doing the work on the Clerks 10th Anniversary DVD, Smith said he had the perfect idea for doing a sequel that wouldn't suck.
    Trust me. See the movie. You won't be disappointed.

  3. I knew that Mewes has had troubles with addiction and such . . . Hmmm . . . That's definitely cool that Smith has his back like that . . . Definitely.
    I am going to see the movie now . . . (Would have caught it yesterday, but came down with some sort of heat sickness . . . )

  4. I've been enjoying Civil War myself. It didn't take long for Iron Man to become a fascist pig. I don't think they've done a good job explaining Cap's side of the issue after talking about how everyone was going to get equal time on this "gray issue." Obviously, after the fascist pig comment, you can see which side I support. ;)

  5. That's another issue I've had with the comic. They did a piss poor job of creating this "objective" story where readers would be hard pressed to choose a side - Marvel's words, not mine.
    So on the one side, we have Captain America and a bunch of B-Stringers who trust Cap.
    On the other-side, we have Iron Man, Reed Richards, Hank Pym and everybody they browbeat into coming along with them. Oh, and Spider-Man who is so obviously about to heel-turn that I'll only be surprised if he DOES wind up killing Captain America and then saluting the flag ironically.
    So we have the symbol of America and the underdogs vs...
    * the alcoholic rich-prick who thinks he knows better than everyone, who has gone mad with power more than once already.
    * the cool, calclulating prick who thinks he knows better than everyone, who once started a land war in Europe because he didn't think anyone else could handle protecting the castle of his dead archenemy.
    * the wife-beating prick who thinks he's better than everyone else, despite most of his inventions going awry and trying to kill everyone and the only other useful thing he created was a helmet that controlled ants.
    Yeah. Real hard to pick a side here.