Clerks III: The gang’s (nearly) all back in this enjoyable slice of Gen-X fan service

Kevin Smith goes back to his New Jersey video store roots for this rough-hewn but heartfelt slacker reunion

Clerks III
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Director: Kevin Smith
Cert: 15A
Genre: Comedy
Starring: Kevin Smith, Brian O’Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Jason Mewes, Rosario Dawson, Trevor Fehrman, Marilyn Ghigliotti, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ben Affleck, Justin Long
Running Time: 1 hr 40 mins

Stop me if you’ve heard this plot before.

After suffering a heart attack, Randal (Anderson), the sweariest of all clerks, enlists his patient chum Dante (O’Halloran), trusty dope-peddling sidekicks Jay (Mewes) and Silent Bob (Smith), and Satan-worshipping new-to-the-crew Elias (Fehrman) to make a movie about his life behind the counter of a convenience store.

The sequel to the 1994 and 2006 Clerks films, and the ninth overall feature film set in Smith’s View Askewniverse, takes the writer-director back to his New Jersey roots.

What follows is precisely what fans expect and want: an impromptu hockey game, ill-advised sex with an old girlfriend, pop culture references, dirty jokes and general silliness. Think fan-service with a smile.


Veteran Clerks (and Smith) pals — Dawson, Gellar, Affleck — turn up to wave the old franchise off. Inspired by the director’s own 2018 heart attack, this third (and presumably final) instalment often feels as rough-hewn and heartfelt as the 1990s original.

Smith, who emerged alongside young guns Quentin Tarantino and Richard Linklater, has never been the most technically dazzling of his filmmaking peers. Yet from the moment he cobbled together $27,575 to shoot a buddy comedy in the video store where he worked, he has embodied a sincerity and can-do spirit that is hugely appealing.

No one could claim that his oeuvre is grown-up. Too boyish for Bechdel, too puerile to count as meaningful progression, and too knockabout for some of its serious subplots, Clerks III is unlikely to win over Smith agnostics.

The introduction of the ghost of Rosario Dawson’s Becky — who, along with Dante’s daughter, was killed by a drunk driver — feels way off in a script wherein everyone is still babbling about Star Wars.

For ageing Gen-Xers, however, there’s an irresistible sensibility underpinning the enterprise; they can’t call it a midlife crisis if you’ve always been disgruntled and surly.

From the moment My Chemical Romance’s Welcome to the Black Parade blasts across the opening credits, this is the unexpectedly moving, nostalgia-soundtracked class reunion that you’ll enjoy despite yourself.

Tara Brady

Tara Brady

Tara Brady, a contributor to The Irish Times, is a writer and film critic