Kevin Smith Has One Regret With The Way He Handled Clerks

One of the weirdest things about getting older are those moments when you look around and suddenly realize everybody else looks ancient too; your family, friends, and those celebrities and movie stars you grew up watching and assumed would stay young forever.

My brain still struggles to compute the fact that Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp are both almost 60. Pitt still looks great; I have no data to support this, but I'm sure millions of middle-aged men were inspired to renew their gym membership after he took his shirt off in "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood." On the flip side, Depp now looks like a guy who lives on a canal boat with several cats.

Belated remakes and reboots can show their age, too. "Trainspotting" was the acerbic voice of a restless generation, while the cringey retread of the "Choose Life" speech in the sequel was just like Grandpa Simpson yelling at clouds. It's not all bad, though. "Bill and Ted Face the Music" was the life-affirming threequel we never knew we needed, while seeing Johnny Knoxville and Steve-O grappling with grey hairs and creaking joints in "Jackass Forever" managed to validate the whole franchise and give us one of the unlikeliest touching movies of the year.

This brings me to "Clerks," the pinnacle of '90s slackerdom, and the completion of the trilogy with this year's "Clerks III." Kevin Smith was just 24 when he made his instant cult classic and it set him on the path to riches, fame, and, more importantly, got him away from the day job behind the convenience store counter. Even so, he still harbors one regret regarding its two main characters.

So what happens in the Clerks movies again?

Dante Hicks (Brian O'Halloran) has a day off from his job at the Quick Stop convenience store in Leonardo, New Jersey, but gets roped into covering another colleague's morning shift. He's not happy about it but begrudgingly goes in on the promise he'll be relieved at lunchtime.

The shutters are jammed shut with chewing gum in the locks, but otherwise, it's a day pretty much like any other. Dante kills time arguing with his girlfriend Veronica (Marilyn Ghigliotti), contemplating getting back together with his ex, and having rambling philosophical conversations with his friend Randal (Jeff Anderson), who works at the video store next door. Meanwhile, Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith) hang around outside dealing drugs and harassing passersby.

"Clerks" was shot in the convenience store where Smith worked at the time, which really adds to the authenticity. The film has dated somewhat, but anyone who has ever worked behind the counter in a shop will spend most of the movie nodding in recognition.

Most of the main cast reunited 12 years later for the sequel, "Clerks II." This time around, Dante and Randal are slinging burgers in a fast food restaurant after the Quick Stop burned down. While their employer may have changed, their attitude towards work hasn't, insulting customers and abusing their shy teenage colleague Elias (Trevor Fehrman). Dante's love life is still complicated, torn between moving to Florida with his wealthy girlfriend and his affair with his boss Becky (Rosario Dawson), and Jay and Silent Bob have also pitched up outside for business as usual. The laugh quotient is still pretty high, but the film loses a lot of the original's lo-fi charm because it's shot in glossy color.

Kevin Smith's big regret about Clerks

Another 16 years on, and "Clerks III" finally made it to the screen after over a decade of uncertainty. In the run-up to its release, Smith was wistful about its two main characters, Dante and Randal (via Vanity Fair):

"I wish this was 'Clerks 19.' I wish I'd been doing this the whole f****** time, man. These characters are so close to my heart, and finally letting them take the journey that they sent me on is a big deal for me. Without Dante and Randal, I'm not where I am."

This sounds like Smith is a bit down on his career beyond the View Askewniverse with the "Clerks" films at its heart. His other work has been patchy at best, but at least he has tried a little variety by branching out into horror with "Red State," buddy cop comedy with "Cop Out," and generally freaking people out with "Tusk." And Dante and Randal have still been around, although nowhere near as much as Jay and Silent Bob, who Smith says he "spread around like so much cheap peanut butter."

If he feels he has neglected the Quick Stop boys, Smith has now rectified that with "Clerks III." They now own the store, but after suffering a severe heart attack (like Smith did in 2018) Randal decides he needs to do something with his life and make a movie about their experiences. It's all very meta with Randal's black-and-white footage causing strong nostalgia vibes for the original, and honoring the characters who started it all by bringing their story full circle.