Published Feb 16, 2007Its easy to view Clerks II in a negative light. Director/writer/Silent Bob Kevin Smith even invites it. For instance, the excellent, in-depth 90-minute "making of is entitled "Back to the Well. And fans were initially aghast when, after the Benifur-influenced failure of his more family-friendly, mature (read: less dick and fart jokes) Jersey Girl, and after saying to anyone who would listen that he was done with the View Askew Universe, he announced this sequel. However, throughout the significant number of extras and commentaries (three of them!!!), Smith does make convincing claims as to why Clerks II was, in fact, the movie he had to make after Jersey Girl. But while it may be the movie he had to make, is it the ones fans wanted, and a worthy follow-up to his "cult hit? Yes and no. Clerks II catches up with unmotivated counter jockies Dante and Randall ten years later and, after a fire decimates the Quick Stop, sees them slinging burgers in the world of fast food (Moobys!!!). However, the cynicism, caustic wit and customer-loathing of the first are diluted with more simplistic, for lack of a better term, "Hollywood plot developments: Dante is engaged and leaving to start a new life in Florida but has a romantic loose end with his boss (Rosario Dawson) to tie up/acknowledge, not to mention best friend Randall, who, beneath his offensive façade, desperately doesnt want him to go. Clerks II is funny, however, sometimes laugh out loud so, while its impossible not to be smitten with Rosario Dawsons Becky and Jay and Silent Bob are, as usual, effective, entertaining comic relief. Still, theres something about a movie where 30-year olds decry their lack of achievement, dead-end jobs and have semi-life crises that ring hollow coming from Smith in this point in his career, even with his ever funny pop-culture drive-by dialogue and a donkey show. While Clerks II is funny, it is flawed and his is weakest film besides Jersey Girl, coming across like the Smith of old clashing with the now adult Smith. With the View Askew Universe once again behind him, the question is: where does Smith go from here?