“I’m not even supposed to be here today.”
That oft-repeated phrase from the original Clerks perfectly sums up the ethos of the 1994 movie. It comes via Dante Hicks (Brian O’Halloran), a twenty-two-year-old Quick Stop clerk who feels an overwhelming sense of responsibility toward his job (but not so much toward the women he dates). The movie follows a day in his work life, from the moment he’s guilted by his boss to open the store after closing the previous night to closing again, all the while being pushed toward truancy by his best friend Randal Graves (Jeff Anderson), who works at the adjoining VHS store.
Along with Slacker by Richard Linklater and Singles by Cameron Crowe, Clerks served as a Gen-X cinematic masterpiece, movies about twenty-somethings who had none of their predecessors’ ambition. Not only this, but Clerks inaugurated its own cinematic universe, tied together by ribald duo Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and writer/director Kevin Smith). The film itself was the product of hard work: Smith created and financed the project largely on his own, putting expenses on credit cards until then-Miramax head Harvey Weinstein picked it up.
Despite its incessant references to the 1994 original, Clerks III—which releases wide on September 13—has none of its predecessor’s scrappiness.