Some Thoughts on Clerks III (2022)
by Landon Thomas Maloney
-October 18, 2022-

A movie like Clerks 3 doesn’t lend itself well to a numbered or starred rating. It’s effectiveness is purely boiled down to how well other ViewAskerniverse films work (and more importantly) MEAN to the viewer. So, I’ll speak to my experience and my experience alone. Your mileage may, and most likely will, vary.

I went into Clerks 3 assuming that I’d laugh my way through a movie about characters that have inexplicably drawn me in since I formatively watched Clerks when I was young, fell in love with its DIY charms, raunchy humor, and reluctant friendship, and realized that people can just make movies if they’re passionate enough. Instead, I found myself hunched forward over my counter, ignoring the tomato soup I was halfway through making, and uncontrollably weeping with equal parts sorrow, recollection, catharsis, and a carnal love of making movies for the sheer joy of it, as well as a strong emphasis on how easily we can hurt the people we care about all in the pursuit of our own artistic expression, which often quickly morphs into obsession at the expense of the people devoting their time and creativity to said art. It hit me like a brick wall for reasons that are entirely my own and not at all universal. But, it was my experience nonetheless. And that feeling persisted even while I laughed through the films ending, tears and laughter congealing into that feeling that’s impossible to describe but everyone has experienced, until the credits roll and I found myself inside one of those Smith memes from when he willingly posts videos of himself weeping at scenes (often ones far less effective than the Dante in the theater scene that broke me in this film).

I have to be up front and admit that I have a Chasing Amy tattoo. I have the criterion releases on both mediums. It is my personal favorite piece of work by Smith and Co. But, where that film is mostly nasty, cynical, wildly outdated at points, and rightfully robs its main character of any meaningful reconciliation with the person (and people) that he treated so poorly while wrapped up in his own narcissistic ideas of what love is supposed to be (could write a much longer one of these about that film and I have orally dictated it in various forms many times drunkenly to friends), Clerks 3 adores it’s characters. It loves them enough to show their cracks and let them learn, even if it’s too late. It doesn’t even just love them as characters, but as real life friends who changed Smith’s life and has continued to change it for almost 30 years.
Now, this IS a View Askewniverse movie so it’s packed to the gills with cameos, callbacks, and recreations of past Smith favorites. The reason this isn’t merely not a problem for me, but on the contrary is one of the most moving pieces of this movie for me is given what this thing is about, where it stands in Smiths catalogue, and how much thematic weight friendship plays in it, it doesn’t come across like reliving the glory days. This isn’t fan service. This is being an audience member during your favorite bands farewell tour, sweating, laughing, crying, and screaming out lyrics to songs that formed pieces of who you’d become.

This films spends much of its time fleshing out Randall as more than just Dante’s foul-mouthed, needlessly argumentative, ne’er-do-well co-worker and reluctant friend. And thank god because it’s such a relief to not only get a peak at why he is the way he is, but we also get to really see Jeff Anderson really give it his all acting-wise and it’s a very welcome turn. Same goes for Brian O’Halloran although these movies have always given him the most characterization. But even then, this one ups the ante and let’s him perform some profoundly moving scenes mostly on his performance alone, which is not something I thought I would say about a handful of these incredibly charming and funny, but rarely moving, personalities.
I foresee a lot of people calling this movie in love with itself. I say it’s in love with movies and making them with people you love and with people who make you not just a better artist, but a better person.

This is Kevin Smith at his most sentimental and the amount of heart bursting from this thing makes it a perfect capping to a wonderful trilogy. Not just a victory lap, but the best film in the trilogy while both of the previous films exist within it in a way. The best trilogies are in conversation with one another and what’s there for Clerks to do if not talk; to friends, to loved ones, to those who aren’t around anymore… to each other.


It also features Affleck’s in his funniest role since he played himself in Jay and Silent Bob Strikes Back, which is one of the funniest turns ever put to film for me
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