Jeff Anderson as Randal and Brian O’Halloran as Dante in Clerks III.

‘Clerks III’ Delivers a Nostalgic Ode to Generation X

3/5 rooftop hockey games.

Journalists and pundits love to dissect the differences between the generations. From geriatric millennials to Gen Z to OK Boomers, it’s easy to pin cultural trends/economic frustrations/the dumpster fire state of the world on the rise and fall of different generations. But while there is an inherently tribal feeling to your generation of origin, we often ignore the cultural impact of the generation before us. For many geriatric millennials, we were raised on the seminal works of Generation X. From Reality Bites to the rise of MTV, these cultural touchstones were a peek into (fictional) adulthood, a future we expected ourselves to grow into. And one of those touchstones was Kevin Smith’s 1994 slacker opus Clerks.

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Clerks and the work of Kevin Smith was formative for the alt-film nerds of my generation, who grew up trolling View Askew message boards, sharing Jay and Silent Bob jokes, and repeating the filthiest parts of Dogma to one another during homeroom. Fans have followed Smith through his journey into podcasting and his later efforts, both good (Red State) and bad (Yoga Hosers). We even hung in there for the fitfully funny Clerks II (2006) which brought Rosario Dawson into the fold.

Now Smith returns with the third (and presumably final) chapter in the Clerks saga. Our titular employees, Dante ( Brian O’Halloran) and Randal (Jeff Anderson), are still kicking it behind the register at the Quick Stop convenience store, complaining about customers and debating the intricacies of Star Wars. Little has changed, beyond Jay and Silent Bob running a dispensary outside Randal’s video rental store. Their routine is interrupted when Randal suffers a heart attack (similar to Smith’s own heart attack in 2018) and realizes he’s wasted his life behind the counter.

With a new lease on life, Randal decides to write and direct a film about his Quick Stop adventures, a scrappy little indie that is a stand-in for Smith’s original Clerks. He enlists Dante to produce and co-star, and soon recruits everyone in his life to play a role. This offers plenty of cameos from Smith regulars and fan favorites, and plenty of in-jokes for Clerks fans to revisit. Is it self indulgent? Sure. But the film brims with so much affection that it’s easy to get swept away.

Clerks III also delivers on deep emotion, as Dante is still reeling from the absence of his soul mate Becky (Rosario Dawson) and their family. O’Halloran really shines in the role, tapping into Dante’s pain and anguish in a way previous films haven’t explored. O’Halloran’s performance made me cry more than once during the film, an outcome I usually don’t expect from a Kevin Smith movie.

But don’t worry, all of the Smith signatures are still alive and kicking in Clerks III. There are plenty of dick jokes, weed jokes, and snootchie bootchies to go around. And while some viewers may be over Smith’s endless dissection of geek culture (which frankly set the bar for countless nerdy pop-culture obsessed characters since) there’s an undeniable warmth and pride infused within the film. So sit back, spark up a joint, and enjoy the comforting blanket of nostalgia.

Lionsgate in partnership with Fathom Events will be releasing CLERKS III exclusively in theaters from September 13th – 18th.

(featured image: Lionsgate)

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Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.