Kevin Smith's follow-up to his independent hit from 1994 is a comedy with plenty of innuendo, crudeness, some sweet romance, and pop-culture references. Clerks II probably needed to be made after the floundering of Jersey Girl, a hard sell given the off-screen publicity of its Gigli stars.
The loquacious Randal (Jeff Anderson) and Dante (Brian O'Halloran) aren't at the Quick-Stop convenience store anymore. It's ten years later and they provide service in a Jersey-set fast-food joint called "Mooby's."
Given his passion for slackers and those still looking for happinesss, Smith still succeeds on a personal level being motivated as a 30-something unafraid to have his characters elaborate with much candor. He'll take the pungent gags to the limit to the delight of his fans who had fun with his more cartoonish vulgarity, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. While the dialogue seems much more rehearsed and refined to Smith's somewhat wanton milieu, the narrative arc is not that dissimilar from the tale with the addled Jason Mewes and a mute Smith himself getting lead billing.
The cast is obviously familiar with the director's m.o. and have settled into the stylings of the response to the pressures of lives filled with little direction. The targeted audience is most responsive with Mewes's Jay, sparingly used with his rehab, and Anderson's Randal, doing his best with some protracted, wordy sequences.
Color is the sparkle for the medium this go-around after a b/w opening. Dante is about to leave Mooby's for Florida with his fiance (Smith's real-life with Jennifer) and the story chronicles his last day. Easily forecasted is the film's romantic element, as Rosario Dawson lights up the screen as the babe of a boss at Mooby's. The ebullient schtick throughout heads to a truculent high point as a new geeky, Christian lad into Lord of the Rings has some peculiar intimate notions on his mind.
While the musical selections belie an overall artistic, alternative, finally a tad affecting organically mounted production, Clerks II is packed with montages and cameos that makes the total package rocking, though some of it is better suited to DVD. Die-hards will love the simmering risque connotations and the door is left open at least for another chance to see Jay and Silent Bob strike back again.