Everyone has a movie that they a.) have seen more times than they can count b.) will never stop rewatching. Not necessarily their favorite, but the one they always go back to. The one that’s there for them no matter what. Rocky and The Godfather are common winners of this category, but for me, it will always be Clerks.
Looking back, I have no idea what first captivated me about the New Jersey slice-of-life comedy. I think I was first drawn to the incredible DIY story behind it. The idea of Kevin Smith borrowing $27,000 and making a film in the convenience store he worked in that eventually went to Sundance seemed too good to be true. It made me aware of how low the barriers to entry in this industry can be, and inspired my friends and I to start making films. But with time, I truly fell in love with the movie itself. The story of a convenience store clerk who wasn’t supposed to be there that day is the perfect combination of verite and whimsy. As stupid as the film is, I’m convinced that you can learn everything you need to know about life from it, if you know where to look. I’ve watched it on countless good days, and more than a few bad ones. As corny as it sounds, the movie feels like one of my best friends.
The film spawned a universe of sequels and spinoffs, all featuring the New Jersey slackers Jay and Silent Bob. Chasing Amy is a bonafide classic, but the quality of the films declined pretty rapidly from there. I’ve seen them all quite a few times, but there’s a reason we haven’t seen a new Jay and Silent Bob film since 2006. But that didn’t stop them from captivating my high school imagination. My friends and I were obsessed with the foul-mouthed, pop-culture referencing, real-life cartoon characters that inhabited the fictional New Jersey of Smith’s imagination. Even as I grew up, I could never quite outgrow them.
It’s been a long time coming, but nothing is ever truly dead in Hollywood. Kevin Smith recently had a near-fatal heart attack, and he used his new lease on life to get his old friends back together. This week, for two nights only, he’s releasing Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, and it looks…awful. Critics have been panning it, and it’s been a punchline for sophisticated filmgoers.
But yes, I’m going to see the movie tonight. And no, I don’t expect it to be good. I’m not looking forward to seeing the characters so much as I’m looking forward to seeing the younger version of myself that first fell in love with them. For some reason, these crass New Jersey mall films resonated with me in a way that countless superior films haven’t. My first scripts were all unintentional ripoffs of Kevin Smith movies. Without whatever my high school self saw in them, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. And that means more to me than any Rotten Tomatoes score ever could.
Student, Cinephile, Unapologetic View-Askewniverse Lover