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  • Growing pains

     
    Changes are afoot in the lives of the Clerks II characters.

    Kevin Smith, like his infamous slacker characters, is having trouble growing up. After the failure of his attempt to graduate to adult comedy with 2004's Jersey Girl, the director of cult hit Clerks has decided to return to where it all began.

    But if Smith was looking to Dante Hicks (Brian O'Halloran) and Randal Graves (Jeff Anderson) for inspiration, he must have been sorely disappointed. Very little has changed in the lives of the twouber-underachievers since he left them behind the counter of their respective New Jersey mini-malls 10 years ago.

    The stars of Smith's $US200,000 first feature, filmed at night in the convenience store where he worked, have moved a few streets down the road - but that's only because their previous places of employment burned down (Randal left the coffee pot on the stove - again).

    Now in their early 30s, Dante and Randal continue to do as little as possible at the fictitious, bovine-themed fast food empire Mooby's.

    But changes are afoot.

    Dante is so surprised that he's managed to pull a good-looking chick (Smith's wife Jennifer Schwalbach), he's about to marry her and move to Florida, even though they have absolutely nothing in common.

    Randal is so gutted by the prospect of his best mate leaving town, he's being consumed by rancour.

    In the interludes between organising Dante's outrageous buck's night - Randal is determined to send his mate off with a bang - he takes his anger out on Mooby's resident nerd, Elias (Trevor Ferhman), a naive, Lord Of The Rings fanatic.

    Adding some much-needed class to proceedings is Rosario Dawson (Sin City), Mooby's manager and Dante's close friend.

    Clerks II averaged 8.1 out of 10 on the Internet Movie Database (from a sample of almost 12,000 users) so it's obviously doing something right.

    Unsurprisingly, it was those aged under 18 who gave it its highest score.
     
    But unlike Smith's previous films, this one failed to awaken my inner adolescent.

    Behaviour that is developmentally appropriate for a bloke in his early 20s becomes rather sad and pathetic when he is still carrying on that way in his mid-30s.

    Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Smith)'s whacky and absurdist shopfront routine is also getting pretty tired.

    In Clerks II, Smith's reputation for sharp, witty dialogue is actually feeling a little blunt - a fact that the animal erotica shock factor only partially manages to disguise.

    The film doesn't exactly besmirch the reputation of the original film - there's enough of the characters' original charm to see it through until the slightly bitter end - but it certainly doesn't augurwell for a Clerks trilogy.

    CLERKS II (MA15+)
    * * 1/2
    Director: Kevin Smith
    Starring: Brian O'Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Trevor Ferhman, Rosario Dawson and Jason Mewes
    Screening: General release


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