I want to start this review with the truth; there was no way I could walk into Clerks III and not come out absolutely loving it. As a Jersey Girl, it’s a given. But it is so much more than that. I owe Kevin Smith, the Clerks franchise (really all of his movies) and the experiences he has brought to life so much. The original Clerks is my favorite film of all time. He has had an impact on the relationship I have with my parents and sisters; he has inspired me beyond the normal “use the time you got to do what you love” and much more. It wouldn’t be an unrealistic statement to say that Smith has had more impact on my career choice than my counselors at school.

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But that being said, Smith is just human. There was always a chance that when the credits rolled on Clerks III, I would have the same reaction I did the first time I saw Jersey Girl. That reaction? It was a good movie, but a terrible Kevin Smith film. However (and who would be surprised), this film was as far from that reaction as humanly (and superhumanly) possible. Clerks III is more than just a movie; it’s an experience. A big hug packed with nostalgia. We are talking standing ovations, puddles of tears, and laughs.

A doctor (Justin Long) talking with Randal as he lays in the ER in Clerks III.

Justin Long checking in on Randal. Image courtesy of Lionsgate.

Before I go further, I want to make it perfectly clear that there will be no spoilers in this review. I was lucky enough to have a best friend who procured tickets to the Convenience Tour kick-off show in Red Bank, New Jersey and decided I was worthy enough to attend with her. Unfortunately, this means that I have to keep my mouth sewed shut for another week or risk the bad luck of finding myself facing Mr. Tusk. But, I still plan on waxing poetically for the next few paragraphs about how much this film means to me.

From what we have seen in the trailers, Clerks III sees our two favorite clerks, Randal (Jeff Anderson) and Dante (Brian O’Halloran), back at the Quick Stop. Life seems to be going great until Randal nearly drops dead from a heart attack. With a new shot at life, he decides to spend his time making a movie about all the stupid and hilarious things he has seen at the Quick Stop over the years. In the trailer, we get glimpses of some of the iconic moments of the original Clerks and even references to Clerks II. And that alone is more than enough reasons to love this movie. The way Smith can give us that burst of nostalgia from the first film while still having this one feel unique and stand-alone is something special.

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I know I said that this movie was packed with dick and fart jokes, it is a Smith film, after all, but it is more than that. It is a testament to Smith’s growth as a director and a human. It is pretty easy to see that Randal’s heart attack within Clerks III is a direct representation of Smith’s widowmaker heart attack back in 2018. He has talked about how impactful this moment was to him and his career. It’s the reason we have the Jay and Silent Bob Reboot and Clerks III. And while he has been able to have a few laughs at his own expense, he has also talked about the hardships Smith went through and has been open about how scared he was. And that shines through in Clerks III as we watch Randal head down that same path.

Randal and Dante standing in front of the Quick Stop looking at the "I assure you were're open" sign in Clerks III.

Randal and Dante in Clerks III. Image courtesy of Lionsgate.

But it isn’t just Randal’s reactions that drive the emotional portion of Clerks III. We also get the chance to see how this event affects those around him, including Dante, Elias (Trevor Fehrman), Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Smith). And while some of them might be a tad bit more emotional than others, they each play their part, and they play them well. Even newcomer Austin Zajur fits right into his role as if he had been there the whole time. His addition, alongside Fehrman, helps fill the generational gap so viewers of all ages will have something to connect with.

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One of the most important parts for me, outside of the main and subplots of Clerks III, is the return to the Quick Stop. The shop is a character in its own right, and just seeing Randal and Dante back behind the counter was an experience all on its own. Bringing it back to the shop also helped provide a bit more New Jersey identity to the film, strengthened by the countless quotes and jokes. And this is where I want to personally thank Mr. Smith for making the right choice by choosing the term pork roll. If you know, you know.

"If you play to shop life, let us know. Thanks" sign sitting in front of the register in Clerks III.

The infamous shoplifting sign. Image courtesy of Lionsgate.

Honestly, I could go on forever about what made Clerks III such an impactful film. The story, characters, quotable moments, and nostalgic feel round out one hell of a trilogy. But what made my first watch through truly amazing was getting the chance to sit in the Count Baise Theater in Red Bank and watch it alongside hundreds of fellow Smith fanatics. My reactions to what was happening on screen were multiplied by those around me, and watching fellow fans laugh and cry together was just as big of an experience as what was happening on screen. Plus, Mr. Dante himself was sitting just a few feet away from us in the crowd and watching his reaction to the film was pure pleasure.

Clerks III will release worldwide in theaters on September 13, 2022, for just six days. Tickets can be found through Fathom Events. I highly suggest rushing to your local theater and checking it out. Even if you are the tiniest Kevin Smith fan, I suspect you will love this film. If you happen to live close to a stop of the Convenience Tour or have the means to get to one, I highly, highly suggest hitting one of them up. Just getting to experience the show alongside fellow fanatics and hearing Smith go on and on about how much it all means to him is worth every penny.

NOPE Spoiler Review

Julia Roth
Catch Me