In 1994, director Kevin Smith (“Jersey Girl”) created “Clerks,” a simple movie about simple people doing simple, everyday things. It was instantly a cult favorite and led to a scramble of movies with related characters such as “Mallrats,” “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back” and “Dogma.” Apparently Smith doesn’t have much else to do. Twelve years later, he has released an unexpected sequel to the hilarious classic.

Angela Cesere
“Look at our careers . yep, there they go.” (Courtesy of View Askew Productions)

“Clerks II” begins similar to its predecessor, with Dante (Brian O’Halloran, “Drop Dead Roses”) going to open up the Qwik-Stop for yet another long day, only to find the store in flames. In a down economy, Dante and his partner Randal (Jeff Anderson, “Now You Know”) find themselves working in the embarrassing fast-food haven Mooby’s.

Contrary to the original, Dante now actually has plans for his future. Though Randal still enjoys his lackadaisical lifestyle, Dante is engaged, moving to Florida and succeeding in the business world (Well, sort of: He runs a carwash.)

Even with the rest of Dante’s life completely planned out by his domineering fiance, he still seems to hold a torch for his boss, played by Rosario Dawson (“Sin City”). Only a movie directed by Kevin Smith can include a corny white guy working in a burger joint, getting lucky with Rosario Dawson. As surreal as their feelings seem, they make it work. The emotional attachment shown by the two is refreshing compared to the comedic interactions that dominate the movie.

The many life-altering issues of the characters are kept light, mainly by the antics of loiterers Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith, “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back”). They remain the same lazy, weed-selling vagabonds from the original, but after a brief stint in rehab, they resist the temptation of drugs through the power of God.

At times, the movie seeks laughs at an extreme level, especially with a show of interspecies erotica involving a very sexual donkey that is not for those with weak stomachs.

“Clerks II” goes scene by scene with ups and downs of hilarious mishaps, messages of true friendship and even the continued feud between “Star Wars” geeks and “Lord of the Rings” nerds. The laughs come steady and the lessons are a bit too obvious. Not as funny as its parent film, Smith tries a new route, with a serious tone to accompany the crude humor that just doesn’t mix. Next time, maybe Smith should try one or the other.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Clerks II
At the Showcase and Quality 16
Weinstein

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