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I think we've all soured on Smith with age, I know I have. But, I do find laughs in his work despite whatever issues I have with it. 

And to be entirely fair, even the best of us kinda sucked in the 90s. 

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The original Clerks is cynical in that "we're 20-something and know everything," jaded, mid-90s, GenX way. Making it somewhat relatable, even now. Clerks II, however, is mean as fuck.

Holy hell I did not remember how completely terrible Randal is in the sequel. From the moment he first interacts with Elias, he's a brutish bully of mammoth proportions. When he was 22 and fucking with customers, his workplace behavior could -- not should, but could -- be written off by an audience of the same age as "sticking it to the man." Here, though, he's 33 and straight-up attempting to destroy everything the 19-year-old Elias believes in. Halfway through the movie he tells Elias that they'll be best friends once "Mr. Dante" leaves for Florida. There's no equal footing with their relationship. When Randal calls Dante on his shit, he's usually right and it's something Dante needs to hear. When Randal talks to -- never with -- Elias, he's never not punching down. It's beyond abusive.

His sexual harassment of Becky and Emma is fucked up, making it clearly understandable why both women barely tolerate him. There's no doubt in my mind that the moment Dante drove off to Florida, Becky would have fired Randal's ass. And, in the car, Emma would have finally admitted she hated the shithead.

Further, Randal admits he's had sex with (and will continue to do so) 17-year-olds. I don't know or care what the law was in New Jersey at the time, even if it was legal, a 33-year-old sexually interacting with high school-age girls is beyond reprehensible.

And then, what the holy fucking shit was the whole racial slur portion of the film? Where the ever-loving fuck did that come from, and how -- HOW?! -- did Kevin Smith think that was anywhere near approaching acceptable? If one wants to argue that it's meant to display how purposely insensitive Randal is at his core, was bullying Elias not enough? Was gleefully flaming a wheelchair-user not enough? Were the homophobic slurs and tendencies not clear enough? Was his demeaning sexual treatment of women not enough? What the holy hell was anybody thinking? This is beyond gross, and probably only made it through because Clerks II was distributed by The Weinstein Company.

And speaking of that...

Knowing what we know now, I'm of the mind that Becky's dance scene on the roof -- the one set to "ABC" by The Jackson 5 -- was requested by executive producer Harvey Weinstein. Why? Well, the focus of the shot is squarely on Rosario Dawson's breasts bopping up and down as Becky dances for Dante. The only other time I can recall Kevin Smith filming a sequence that mildly sexual before Clerks II would be Salma Hayek's dance sequence in Dogma -- which was set to "Candy Girl," another Jackson 5 song. While Weinstein didn't technically produce Dogma, he and Bob did personally purchase it from Disney for distribution through Lions Gate. So make of that what you will.

And then there's Dante.

Fuck this guy. In Clerks he was insufferable by the end. In Clerks II he's still not grown by the end. After Randal's, admittedly, very well-acted and believable "I love you" breakdown, he tries so hard to get his best friend to make a damn decision for himself. Just one. One single thing. And what does Dante do? He asks Randal what he thinks he should do. So after all of Clerks, the 11 years in between, losing his fiancée to his inability to be satisfied with the woman he's with, after being sent to jail for the night, after being told he needs to start thinking for himself by his best friend and his about-to-be new fiancée, after being told by his former fiancée that men can't make decisions for themselves, he still needs to be told what to do. There's never any growth with Dante. And I get it. I did not grow much between 22 and 33. So in that sense Dante is an exceptionally believable character. But for a movie, a sequel no less, to continue to display this character trait -- and, worse, to even end on it without any decision-making by the character in question -- that's some unsatisfactory storytelling. Randal grows more in this movie than Dante, and that's saying something.

And while we're on the topic of Dante, oh my god can this guy not fuck around? Can he not be satisfied? When Veronica discovers Dante's would-be infidelity, she says fuck it and moves on with her life. She's rightly pissed off that she's spent seven months with a guy who's been plotting to sneak behind her back, but she's young and she'll move on. Here, Dante downright ruins Emma's life. Besides being a touch condescending to Dante (RE: decision-making), Emma is actively supportive of him. She sees and believes in his potential. She wants him to succeed. She wants them to succeed. Yet Dante can't get down with that. She's emotionally and physically loving, pops by to show her glee over their invitations, does the same again to give him a going away cake, and has her silly little Mrs. Hicks shirt. Yet Dante's gonna Dante.

His dissatisfaction with Emma is deeper than his one-night-stand with Becky. That was only a month prior. It's clear whatever's going on in Dante's head has been there for a good long while.

So when she sees Dante and Becky making out, then Jay accidentally revealing Becky is pregnant via an affair with Dante, she's broken. While the movie (somewhat) establishes they've only been together for a year-ish, they had their future together set in stone; the big move, the home, the car wash ownership for Dante, wedding, and children were all a few hours away from beginning. The poor woman was over the moon for Dante, and he tossed it and her all away. That pain is going to sit with that character for a long time, and the fact that Dante never even attempts to atone for it is an issue with the story and character. All he offers is a weak "I'm sorry" before she runs off.

And the worst part of all of this? Clerks II is actively better-made than Clerks. While the characters are horrible caricatures of their 1994 counterparts, the movie flows so much more seamlessly than the strung-together chapters of the original. Between Clerks and Clerks II, Smith had directed Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, and Jersey Girl. This time and these films gave him the room he needed to grow as a storyteller and filmmaker. Yet the writing is so fan-serving. "You liked Randal when he rattled off porn titles in front of a toddler? Well, here's him using a litany of racial slurs in front of Wanda Sykes!"

While the central performances by Brian O'Halloran and Jeff Anderson are meant to be the heart of the film, tying Clerks to its sequel, Rosario Dawson elevates this movie from a Clerks sequel to something that can stand on its own. And considering all that's come out about her, this isn't easy to say.

Clerks II is one of those movies which I cannot actively recommend, yet it's such a character-assassinating debacle it's almost worth the 100 minutes if you've seen the original.

EDIT: OH! I neglected to mention the entire Star Wars / Lord of the Rings debate, tangentially related to the Transformers bashing. There's a massive streak of "our geeky thing is cool, and yours is lame" throughout that comes off as super petty and gatekeeping. It's also massively sexist; Randal specifically puts down women who like to dress as elves as unworthy of love.

So toss that onto the pile of wrongness here.

Edited by The Master
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I haven't seen Clerks II in easily ten, maybe fifteen years. I don't remember much of it to be honest, but the LOTR rant, homophobic as it was, did have me in stitches because it was so extreme and mean-spirited and beyond the pale. And I like LOTR, but I remember Randall just bagging on it to be funny. Doubting that's aged well. 

I also was confused by the whole "porch monkey" hill.

I'm wondering which holds up the least well: this or Chasing Amy?

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Haven't seen Clerks 2 either. I don't plan to. I was turned off of Kevin Smith movies long before that. I think he's a decent guy (when he isn't constantly talking about smoking pot or having anal sex with his wife...which used to be a lot), but his movies are awful. Almost across the board.

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10 hours ago, Donomark said:

I'm wondering which holds up the least well: this or Chasing Amy?

The thing with Chasing Amy, which I watched last night almost as a dare after seeing the question posed, is unlike Clerks II where Smith is taking the piss for 75% of the movie, he's trying really hard to be SERIOUS~! in Chasing Amy. Despite working in the same universe as Clerks and Mallrats, Smith is attempting to mature as a filmmaker -- and maybe bring his audience with him. Yet everything about it is wrong. From top to bottom it is not the story he should have been telling, not in the way he told it at least.

Smith is trying here, and he's touching on topics that we're still struggling with over two decades later. Male sexual fragility and ego are the central theme, liberal politics filtered through the eyes of a 25-year-old sexually conservative man dominate the back half of the movie, toxic masculinity is called to task throughout, the unspoken love that platonic male friends share and how that can easily be shattered when someone new enters the equation, and the way in which men struggle to be in platonic relationships with people they're sexually attracted to is on the table. And Smith does an admirable job attempting to address these topics.

I say "admirable" because Smith never paints Holden as anything but wrong from start to finish. The second Holden lays eyes on Alyssa he activates Douche Mode, acting like he's guaranteed to be her next lover. Worse, like she's his next conquest. Then when he discovers that she's a lesbian, Holden cannot get away from her fast enough. Had she not showed up at his door the next morning, one suspect that would have been the end of it; he was done with her. His "I love you" speech is something some might find romantic -- especially because they do wind up together -- but it is grossly cruel to Alyssa. She has made it painfully clear who she is. Yet he sprints over that line with what he thinks is a romantic confession. Worse, he knows from the jump spilling his heart out could kill the friendship. He says as much. But he does it anyway because he needs to clear his soul, never mind her feelings. And his "I know you feel this too" is worthy of a punch to the teeth because it's outright questioning her identity and sexuality, something she's clearly had to struggle with over the years. Then when he learns he wasn't the first man to have had sex with her, and in fact that she's been in sexual situations he's only seen in adult movies, Holden goes fucking nuclear and slut-shames to her front of a crowd. When Alyssa passionately pleads with him to accept her for her, he's downright sick to her touch. He's a disgusting human being. Can it get worse? Oh yes! Holden potentially outs Banky, and makes the ill-advised suggestion that he, Alyssa, and Banky have a three-way to get their sexual frustrations out of the way. One year later, instead of learning from the massive cluster fuck he made of three peoples' lives and careers, he drops a bombshell on Alyssa. Again, publicly. When he gives her his "Chasing Amy" comic book, which offers Alyssa an apology at the end, he's emotionally manipulating her. He's trying to lay the groundwork for them to get back together.

He's awful. And though Smith writes Holden that way, Ben Affleck's charm masks some of these toxic traits and actions. So it isn't hard to see why some miss all of this and see Holden as a good, but maybe misguided person.

Banky is reprehensible. Smith uses him (and other characters like him) to casually drop F-Bombs like Tarantino uses his characters to drop N-Bombs. It horrible. While I get that Banky is trying to save Holden from the inevitable tsunami of hurt that's coming his way, his way of doing it is abusive and manipulative. Digging up high school dirt on a grown women? Fuck off. That's no better than the way Holden treats Alyssa.

So, Alyssa. Joey Lauren Adams holds this movie together. She is an absolute powerhouse throughout. Her range as Alyssa is something to behold. The way she goes from pure joy to absolutely justifiable rage with the snap of a finger breathes so much life into Alyssa. This is a lived-in character, as the movie suggest. From her teenage years until the then-now, Alyssa has explored her own identity through sex, drugs, and artistic expression -- including music, illustration, and writing. She knows exactly who she is; she's lived this life, Alyssa has. Her shocked-yet-quiet seething rage in the car when Holden unburdens himself of his secret pain to her whispered "please don't" moment in the penultimate scene are both quiet moments for her, but both are ones in which she is absolutely pissed off. The difference is, in the first she didn't see the emotional betrayal coming and cannot believe Holden would hurt her this way, and the second she absolutely saw it coming but had distanced herself enough from him emotionally that she was able to finally cut ties with Holden. There's so much going on with Alyssa, I wish the character and actor had been given a better script, stronger actors, and the right director to work with.

Speaking of which, I just scrubbed to the scene with Holden and Alyssa in Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, and Smith actively calls himself out for not being the right person to make Chasing Amy. Alyssa is adapting Holden's "Chasing Amy" comic into a Netflix series, and notes: "It's always a story that should have been told from a queer perspective, or a woman's perspective, or any perspective other than a cis white man's." If Netflix did indeed remake Chasing Amy from a woman's perspective and / or a queer perspective, I would be so willing to give that a shot. Alyssa deserves so much more.

When it comes to the core story of a cis man and a lesbian engaging in a sexual relationship? I am far from the right person to address the endless problems this movie has. What I will say is this: it might be interesting to watch Chasing Amy as a double feature with The Kids Are All Right (2010). The latter was directed and co-written by Lisa Cholodenko, a lesbian filmmaker. And her movie touches on similar themes of a cis man and an lesbian having an affair. From what I recall it does a much better job than Chasing Amy in this department, but it's been eight-ish years since I last saw it so please forgive me for suggesting it if it too has issues similar to Chasing Amy.

Should you see Chasing Amy? Maybe? If you've seen it before, it would be an interesting viewing experiment to watch it now and compare this viewing to your initial thoughts. If you've never seen it before, it might be very challenging to sit through this wrongheaded, misguided 1997 drama / romcom.

To the question of which holds up the worst, Clerks II or Chasing Amy. I'd put them on equal footing, but for entirely different reasons. What I will say is this: back in 1997, every single LGBTQ+ person I knew was deeply offended by Chasing Amy. And I cannot imagine those feelings have gotten any better with time.

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I did an early career Kevin Smith marathon (Clerks to Jersey Girl) when I first subscribed to a mail-order DVD rental agency about 9-10 years ago. I'd be interested to first watch J&SB Strike Back to see if it holds up as a film where I don't really remember the early film call-backs, then actually watch the early films again. Clerks may not hold up, I despised Mallrats at the time anyway and I have to assume Chasing Amy is as dated as Mike makes out. Turd-monster aside, you'd think Dogma would hold up and Jersey Girl is more meh than offensive IIRC.

It's almost a Flickchart Forum project, but I have less than zero interest in watching Tusk.

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While you and I have very different takes on Joey Lauren Adams' skill as an actor, Mike, I am pretty much right there with you on Chasing Amy. This is a movie about mature adult relationships written by someone who has very, very clearly never been in one, and tackling LGBTQ issues by someone who, by his own admission, had just befriended his first out gay person (Guin Turner's Go Fish was on the festival circuit at the same time as Clerks).

The fundamental, core conceit of this movie is that men are incapable of handling the idea that women had any kind of a sex life before they met. Like, this is just a given and treated as obvious gospel truth. No. No. 

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2 hours ago, slothian said:

It's almost a Flickchart Forum project, but I have less than zero interest in watching Tusk.

HA! I was so tempted to suggest this, but I had a feeling there would be a hard pass.

1 hour ago, S-T said:

You should make that long post into a column on the main page, @The Master.

I'm giving it a lot of thought. Revisiting Smith's movies could make for some interesting content.

1 hour ago, Dan said:

While you and I have very different takes on Joey Lauren Adams' skill as an actor

I flip-flop on her in this movie all the time. The last time I watched Chasing Amy, I very much came away hating her acting here. This time it was the opposite. Not sure why it changes with each viewing.

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Her voice tho...I never got past it tbh.

I've seen Chasing Amy from start to finish twice in my early twenties, and both times I really enjoyed it. But that was almost ten years ago, and just thinking about it now really throws me in a painful headspace. But it would make for a terrific discussion from the right voices.

Maybe I'll thinking of something with it for QnoA...

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I'll say that Mallrats stands up better than a lot of Smith's other films because it's not trying to be anything else. It's a dumb sex comedy. The male characters get called on their flaws. It has a Stan Lee cameo before he became cool. It might also be the amount of physical humor compared to Smith's other films, leading it to not always be as talky.

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On 9/25/2020 at 10:57 AM, The Master said:

I'm giving it a lot of thought. Revisiting Smith's movies could make for some interesting content.

That, or an episode of The Show.

Also, it would be interesting to see your Karate Kid retrospective expanded into a full-length article or a podcast.

If we ever meet in person, you have permission to bop me on top of the head for piling more work on you, given your already daunting workload.

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Spaceballs: I was taken aback at the language in this, since it was only rated PG. They even dropped the F Bomb late in the movie! If this were made today it would definitely be PG-13. I don't have a problem with the language necessarily, just surprised to see it in a PG movie. Back then, PG was much wider than it is now.

Films Watched: 33

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After the news broke this weekend that Rooney Mara and Joaquin Phoenix named their newborn son River, I decided to watch Stand by Me. At the moment I'm an hour in, and, man, I always forget how much of this movie River Phoenix shoulders. He's elevating everyone around him, and the kid was only 15 / 16 here. He plays the adult of the four boys, but he's still such a child himself. There's so much power in his performance. So much unsaid about this life. Without him, I'm not sure this movie would be as fondly remembered as it is.

Something I noticed this time around is the scar Eyeball has next to his, well, eye. When Ace pins Chris to the ground and threatens to burn his eye out, the camera cuts to Chris' brother, Eyeball, and that's where you can see the scar. This little thing tells you so much about Ace and Eyeball's relationship -- and how he got that nickname.

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7 hours ago, The Master said:

After the news broke this weekend that Rooney Mara and Joaquin Phoenix named their newborn son River, I decided to watch Stand by Me. At the moment I'm an hour in, and, man, I always forget how much of this movie River Phoenix shoulders. He's elevating everyone around him, and the kid was only 15 / 16 here. He plays the adult of the four boys, but he's still such a child himself. There's so much power in his performance. So much unsaid about this life. Without him, I'm not sure this movie would be as fondly remembered as it is.

Something I noticed this time around is the scar Eyeball has next to his, well, eye. When Ace pins Chris to the ground and threatens to burn his eye out, the camera cuts to Chris' brother, Eyeball, and that's where you can see the scar. This little thing tells you so much about Ace and Eyeball's relationship -- and how he got that nickname.

It's a perfect movie.

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Train of the Dead: review forthcoming, but yikes.

Paper Tiger: this is classic Bill Burr. So good.

Lucy: somehow managed to never watch it. The premise turned me off because the "humans only use 10% of their brain capacity" thing is just plain made-up bullshit. If I recall, this was around the time of Under the Skin, so I guess Scarlett wanted to go for the "alien" character during this era of her career. It's a stupid movie, but it's beautiful. It's also very scattershot in its editing. I guess I understand what they were going for injecting the images of the wild, but it felt very unnecessary. Min-Sir Choic is always rad.

  • Features: 88
  • Shorts: 2
  • Documentaries: 13
  • Rewatches: 3
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On 9/27/2020 at 8:08 PM, dc20willsave said:

Scream 3: Synopsis Watch for future episode of The Show. Still need a more through notes rewatch.

Loved the first two reviews, so I am definitely looking forward to this one.

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Raw Deal: Governor Schwarzenegger no-selling bullet wounds was really dumb. You're supposed to be human, dude. This isn't a Terminator sequel. It wasn't very good. I am now looking forward to listening to We Hate Movies covering this thing.

Films Watched: 34

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Scream 3: That's going to be a bit of an edit...

Hello Dolly: I love Barbra Steisand. That's been true most of my life. She was in her late 20's when she made this and is 100% wrong for the part.

The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad: Disney did a lot of Anthology films back in the 40s and early 50s. This one is... okay? The Sleepy Hollow segment is much stronger, just based off the animation during the Headless Horseman chase.

Films: 122
Documentaries: 1

Rewatches: 3
Mst3k/Rifftrax/Other Assisted: 14

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On 10/1/2020 at 8:34 PM, S-T said:

Raw Deal: Governor Schwarzenegger no-selling bullet wounds was really dumb. You're supposed to be human, dude. This isn't a Terminator sequel. 

Films Watched: 34

Have you NOT seen Commando?

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11 hours ago, Donomark said:

Have you NOT seen Commando?

I have, about 15 years ago. It was a fun movie. Silly, but fun. Raw Deal didn't have nearly the charm of Commando, which was over-the-top fun. Plus David Patrick Kelly is in Commando. I had just seen The Warriors for the first time, which I watched after finishing the PS2 game.

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