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Friday, July 12, 2024

‘Clerks III’ Begins Shooting


Ever the King of all things contained universes, “Gen X” mainstay Kevin Smith burst open the indie film scene in 1994 with a chip on his shoulder and a love/hate story about working at a QuickStop that only he could tell. Nearly thirty years later, he’s revisiting his inaugural match made in heaven “bromantic pairing” – the compulsively whiney Dante and blunt-as-can-be Randal – yet again.

“Today is my last day of being 50. Tomorrow I turn 51 and we start shooting ‘Clerks III,’” Smith revealed in a Twitter video post on Sunday. A month before production in 2014, Randal actor Jeff Anderson pulled out – reportedly due to the heavy material Smith’s since-shelved script flaunted. An inconvenient rift with one half of his convenience store hero tandem that saw Smith retreat comfortably back into another one of his beloved mini-worlds in the form of 2019’s aptly-titled “Jay and Silent Bob Reboot.” After burying the hatchet with his most famous friend, frequent collaborator Ben Affleck, Smith’s next reunion in his sight was with Anderson – who ultimately agreed to make amends, and signed onto “Clerks III” shortly after.

Despite benching the earlier draft, Smith noted that he made sure to “poach it for parts” – specifically, his favorite ones. Nevertheless, the impact of the “Clerks III” draft that never was still sits heavy on the hearts and in the minds of View Askewniverse lifers everywhere.

“When I was given the opportunity to hear the man himself read his infamous script for ‘Clerks III,’ I was ecstatic,” Colin Briber, 26, of Brooklyn, fondly recalled. Briber was one of two sets of eighty attendees who purchased $100 tickets to attend an intimate table read of the retired script at the Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey First Avenue Playhouse in 2019. All proceeds benefited the renovations needed to preserve the same venue Smith used to hold auditions for the original “Clerks” back in 1993. 

“That evening is easily one of the top five most important moments of my life. Kevin made us all promise not to discuss the contents of the script, as he felt it wouldn’t be an accurate representation of the movie to come; but I can’t help but wonder how the surprisingly thought-provoking and undeniably controversial script I heard, and the movie now being promised, will compare.”

Before ruling “Clerks III” unnecessary by default, one must remember the power of “Clerks II.” After all, films don’t experience a standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival for nothing. The 2006 follow-up to Smith’s breakout creation revived the same edge and added plenty of new ingredients to the punch – inspiring smitten “Smithers” to look inward at their own aging, misguided priorities and dreams long-sacrificed in the beautiful-yet-ultra-raunchy way only Smith could accomplish. If “III” continues this streak of elevating the introspection the cinema world’s most cherished cashiers can become capable of, call fellow Northeast/tri-state area suburban products more than intrigued.

“The View Askewniverse [Smith’s long-spanning franchise of interconnected films, named for his production company] really holds a special place in my heart,” said Brian Gavin, 25, of Hauppauge. “One summer, my friends and I watched all of Smith’s films. My hope for ‘Clerks III’ is that it focuses on long-term friendship. As the pandemic wanes and people begin to revisit peers they may not have seen for a few years, I think there is potential for it to really hit home.”

When it’s high time for Smith to tour his latest, see it with a friend. As long as you see it. Though irreversibly a brand name public figure, Smith is still – in more ways than none – that same kid who shocked the world once upon a time. He single-handedly proved that a clear vision not only gets you in the door; it keeps you in the room long enough to show the way for the many who jumped soon afterward when you bravely proved the risk was well worth the reward.

Michael J. Reistetter
Michael J. Reistetter
Mike Reistetter, former Editor in Chief, is now a guest contributor to The Messenger Papers. Mike's current career in film production allows for his unique outlook on entertainment writing. Mike has won second place in "Best Editorials" at the New York Press Association 2022 Better Newspaper Contest.