September 20, 2022 – I saw this at the local Regal theater during its limited run as a Fathom Events film, which includes the “making of featurette,” just like the extras on a DVD. That, plus Wikipedia, and a recent appearance by writer-director Kevin Smith on a talk show, gave me a lot of the background information for this film.
I haven't really kept up with Kevin Smith and his health problems, so the background information was useful. But even without that, the plot of this movie, with two of the main characters suffering heart attacks, and Smith's dramatic weight loss, told me all I needed to know about the inspiration for this film.
Smith, in this film, returns to the New Jersey Quick Stop Convenience Store that was the site of his first Clerks film in 1994 (the second Clerks movie was filmed in New Orleans). The store is still owned by the same man who Smith once worked for as a convenience store clerk.
In this movie-within-a-movie, Smith shows us how a convenience store clerk, Randal Graves (played by Jeff Anderson, reprising his role from the first two Clerks movies) has a near-fatal heart attack, inspiring him to make a movie based on his own life. The movie he makes, of course, is the first “Clerks” movie, complete with Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith, reprising their roles) who run a legal marijuana dispensary next door, where the video store used to be.
As the movie project continues, Randal's producer and business partner, Dante Hicks (Brian O'Halloran, reprising his role) becomes increasingly frustrated with Randal, who is so self-absorbed that he seems unable to appreciate all the help he is getting from his friends. Dante is haunted by the memory of his late wife, Becky (Rosario Dawson, reprising her role) who appears to him in visions, urging him to move on with his life.
Dante finally debases himself before his wealthy ex-fianceé Emma (Jennifer Schwalbach Smith, reprising her role) begging her to loan him $30,000 for Randal's movie. Randal takes the money in stride and continues his high-handed selfish ways until Dante can't take it anymore. In an emotional scene, Dante blows up at Randal and quits the movie, triggering his own heart attack.
With Dante in the hospital, Randal is finally forced to come to grips with his own behavior, and how he has taken Dante's help for granted and how he has ignored his friend's feelings about forcing Dante to relive painful episodes from his past in the movie. Randal tries to make amends.
All of this drama is interspersed and surrounded by wacky humor from the likes of Jay and Silent Bob, as well as from Elias (Trevor Fehrman, reprising his role) and Blockchain Coltrane (Austin Zajur of “The Fallout”). Elias veers from one religious extreme to another over the course of the film, as Smith revisits some of the religious themes he explored in “Dogma” (1999).
In the featurette following the film, Smith explains that in making “Clerks III,” he wanted to do for his beloved Clerks characters, what they had done for him, but if that's the case, a somewhat more uplifting send off should be in order. At any rate, this is a funny, heartfelt film that shows a lot of love for these characters.
While the jokes are hit-and-miss, the acting is uniformly solid, and the story is very cleverly written to accommodate, not only the original characters, but footage from the original film. One assumes this will be the final Clerks film. Smith jokes about this in the film, indicating there would be no sequel to his original film because he is “not a hack.” This film rates a B.
Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff (no extra charges apply). I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.