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‘Clerks III’ review: Stuck in time and better for it

I’m not even supposed to be here today.

Clerks III reunites the gang that jump started Kevin Smith’s career for one final adventure. After suffering a near fatal heart attack, Randall (Jeff Anderson) decides to make a movie. The subject? The lives he and Dante (Brian O’Halloran) have led at the Quickie Stop. 

Another Clerks movie was something that may have excited Smith’s fans, but a larger audience seemed out of reach. A seemingly uninspired plot certainly did not help matters. A trailer filled with characters from the previous installments only underscored the idea that Clerks III – and by extension, Smith – were stuck in the past. 

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Unsurprisingly, there are parts of Clerks III that do lack the creative flair Smith is famous for. The second act of the film is little more than re-enactments from the original. (There are some allusions to Clerks II, but it is the first that gets most of the attention.) And there is very much a sense that the new film is content looking back at the other parts of the trilogy. And it works more than it has any right to. 

Nostalgia is an important part of cinema that can draw audiences to theaters. Using a previous movie to prop up a new release is never a good idea. In Clerks III, Smith is able to find the line between worthwhile nostalgia and straight up rehash. It might come off as lazy to some – even Smith as said they “suck their own dicks” – but it will strike a chord with longtime fans. This all culminates in a shockingly heartfelt ending. 

When Smith announced there would be a Clerks III, the natural question was would the film appeal to more than just a niche audience. While the new installment will certainly have the most impact with people familiar with the franchise, even those who only have a passing knowledge will be able to enjoy the silly fun.

Lionsgate in partnership with Fathom Events will be releasing Clerks III exclusively in theaters on September 13th and 15th

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