Looking To The Stars – Clerks 2 and Civil War #3

First, A Few Words To The Wise…

There is a Clerks 2 Review here, but this is going to be sappy, emotional and above all thoughtful criticism for the most part. So if you just want to know if it is funny or worth seeing, the short version is Yes. It is funny. Jay and Silent Bob are in it. Randall is his usual crass self. And Dante is still Fate’s Chamberpot. If you want to learn something, stick around. If not, enjoy the flick.

Last week, in case you didn’t read it, I spoke a bit about how the movie Clerks changed my life for the better at a time when I was younger, more foolish and wondering what to do with my life while being trapped in a crummy job and lacking direction.

Now, nearly ten years after I saw that film, I am a little bit older, relatively less foolish and am trying to find a respectable full-time job. I’ve also found that I also have about the same hold on the direction I am going in as I did when I was 18. Which is, ironically, very much the same situation Dante Hicks is in as Clerks 2.

As the movie opens, Dante’s future fairly certain. Free of the Quick Stop and RST Video for nearly a year, Dante is going into his last day of work at the Mooby’s Fast Food place. He has a fiancé who is getting ready to drag him down to Florida and an easy life in a house bought by his in-laws, managing a car wash owned by his father-in-law and generally getting away from the Hell that has been the first 33 years of his life.

It gives nothing away to say that naturally, things get complicated and that by the end of the film, everything has been put in jeopardy. Comic antics ensue, of course. There is much comedic geekery, including a much needed slam of the live-action Transformers movie, a view of Fantasy Fandom vs. Sci-Fi Fandom and a hilarious dissertation upon the accidental use of racial slurs.

But underneath the “stupid humor for smart people” as Kevin Smith once said when asked to describe his movies, there is a big heart and a big message to this film. Dante Hicks, like Hamlet, is a man doomed by his inaction and indecisiveness and Randall is his Horatio. If the first Clerks taught us that we are often the architects of our own prisons, this Clerks teaches us that life is too short to spend worrying about what you should do with your life if you don’t live your life, for good or ill, in the first place.

A less mature Smith might have illustrated this point with a Star Wars quote; “Do or do not; there is no try,” could have done the lackluster Dante a lot of good about 15 years earlier. But he is past that point and so is most of Smith’s audience. Instead, Smith offers more subtle tributes to his influences – including a musical montage to “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” that hails rather than mocks Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and a black-to-white fade that suggests, much like The Wizard of Oz, that there is no place like home. And like before, the movie ends with a Soul Asylum song. And a very good Soul Asylum song, at that I should say.

In short, the movie is not just a laugh-fest. It’s got an important thought behind it as well. And you get to see a lot more of Jason Mewes than most people would want to see. If that’s not worth your six clams, I don’t know what is.

And since my review of Clerks 2 was a littler shorter and sweeter than I expected, here’s a bonus review – short version and a longer version – of Civil War #3.

Now, long time readers know that I’m not a big fan of Mark Millar. In the past, I’ve referred to him as a poor man’s Grant Morrison and as a pitiful hack who was plundering better storylines from DC Comics in order to continue his work at Marvel. His run on Spider-Man, for instance, being a poorly executed, continuity-ignoring parody of Jeph Loeb’s Hush.

It will probably be a surprise, then, for me to say that I liked the story of Civil War #3 very much.

Seriously, you don’t get better than this for sheer drama. Two groups of heroes, divided by a political dispute on the field of battle as indifferent politicians look on. And then a third party, who would benefit from the hero’s destruction, unleashes a magical, electric force that is capable of destroying them all.

Truly inspiring stuff. And I did love it… when I read that exact same story in Kindgom Come.

(Oh come on. You didn’t think I was really going to say something good about a Mark Millar book, did you?)

For the short review, I hand the podium over to my illustrious and illustrated fictional colleague, J. Jonah Jameson.

The Short Review

Tune in next week. Same Matt time. Same Matt website.

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