Kevin Smith’s debut feature is the ultra-low budget slacker comedy Clerks. Centred around the characters Dante and Randall, the co-workers spend their days discussing sex, relationships, pop culture, ex’s and express their disdain towards any customers that grind their gears.
Filmed on location at the convenience store in which Smith was working at the time. The filming took place after business hours, and a plot device outlining why the shop’s shutters are permanently closed, explained the lack of natural light throughout the movie.
Essentially assembling a group of his friends to help complete the film, the cast / crew were all unknown first timers, and due to lack of budget, the plot was almost entirely dialogue driven.
Without doubt Clerks is one of the funniest comedies of the 1990’s and, with almost punk aesthetics, was the complete antithesis of mainstream American comedy films of the time. The dialogue is foul, pornographic, taboo and in a weird way, more relatable that the majority of Hollywood pictures. It’s two young nerdy guys talking about the things young nerdy guys talk about.
The film has a very distinct look and feel, and combined with a soundtrack featuring Soul Asylum, Alice in Chains and Bad Religion, Clerks is probably the finest example of (if there is such a thing) 90’s grunge cinema.
In recent years Kevin Smith has returned to his indie-film-making roots after flirting with the mainstream. He’s had hits and misses along the way, but Clerks will most likely always be regarded as his finest work. As the launchpad for the “View Askewniverse” the characters and store are referenced in much of Smith’s future work. As well as spawning a sequel and a cult following, Clerks first introduced the movie going world to Jay and Silent Bob.