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There are certain non-glamorous professions that should be outside the realm of cinematic interest- you know, like cleaning ladies, men's room attendants, convenience store clerks... Somehow director Kevin Smith managed to find enough material in the day in the life of a convenience store clerk to create the quirky comedy hit CLERKS ($40). This ultra-low budget miracle takes a look at the life of a directionless convenience store clerk and his best friend, who just happens to be the clerk in the video shop next door. CLERKS stars Brian O'Halloran as Dante Hicks, a counter-jockey forced into going to work on his day off.

During the course of the day, Dante has to deal with insipid customers, sneak out to a funeral, play roller hockey on the roof, and most importantly, come to a decision about the two woman in his life. While Dante tries his best to do what he thinks is right, his best friend Randal Graves (Jeff Anderson) offers him no help. Since Randal spends more time in the convenience store than he does in the video shop, his surly attitude towards customers only serves to cause more problems for Dante. In addition to O'Halloran and Anderson, the cast of CLERKS also includes Marilyn Ghigliotti and Lisa Spoonhauer, as well as Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith as those well-known entities- Jay and Silent Bob.

Being an ultra-low budget movie (which was reportedly financed by Kevin Smith's use of his own credit cards), CLERKS doesn't have the polish of most Hollywood films, but it is entertaining none the less. Some of the acting is a bit amateurish, but for the most part, the central performances are believable. Non-actor Jeff Anderson is surprisingly good and surprisingly funny as Randal. The camera work in CLERKS is minimalist to the extreme, and the 16mm black and white cinematography is a bit rough in places. Despite the minor shortcomings, the dialogue in CLERKS is very funny, although it is very raw. In fact, CLERKS almost got slapped with the dreaded NC-17 rating- rather impressive for a movie with no sex, no nudity or violence. Better keep the kiddies away from this particular DVD.

CLERKS has come to DVD as part of the Miramax Collector's Series with a number of extras. The fact that the DVD isn't enhanced for 16:9 playback makes the premium price a tough pill to swallow, but Kevin Smith devotees are certain to ante up for the chance to own a copy of the film. The black and white transfer certainly won't win any awards for image quality, but considering that this movie was shot in 16mm and blown up to 35mm for theatrical distribution, CLERKS looks as good as it is ever going to look on non-enhanced NTSC video. Film grain is almost always present, but the image is usually clean, with relatively good detail. Contrast is a bit harsh at times, but then again so is the film’s original cinematography. CLERKS is presented at 1.85:1 and looks as though it was purposely framed for that aspect ratio. Digital compression artifacts are never bothersome on this dual layered DVD.

The two-channel Dolby Digital soundtrack will decode to standard surround, but the mix is somewhat limited by the budgetary considerations. However, the soundtrack has been artificially sweetened with added sound effects, plus the music has been mixed in such a way to give the track additional depth. In contrast to the rest of the mix, the dialogue is a bit flat sounding, but it is always clear and intelligible. English subtitles have been provided on the DVD.

The interactive menus are rather basic (perhaps a bit too basic for a premium priced DVD), but they provide the requisite access to the set-up and scene selection features. One can also access the disc's supplements through the interactive menus. Topping the disc's supplements is a very funny and informative audio commentary featuring Kevin Smith, along with other cast and crewmembers. The commentary is absolutely worth listening to, just to hear a very drunk Jason Mewes interject his inebriated observations that have little to do with the actual film. The DVD also includes the film's alternate ending, which was wisely scrapped. There are also a number of deleted scenes included amongst the supplements, plus a theatrical trailer and a Soul Asylum music video directed by Kevin Smith.


Clerks - Collector's Edition (1994)


DVD reviews are Copyright 1999 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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