Kevin Smith’s Swan Song

Kevin Smith insists that he’s going to retire from filmmaking for some reason. It’s a shame, since many of us really enjoy his movies (well, except for Cop Out), but at least Smith – who graduated from the 1990’s school of independent comedy filmmakers along with Ed Burns (The Brothers McMullen) and Wes Anderson (Bottle Rocket) – wants to go out on a high note. He was planning to direct a two-part 1970s hockey movie called Hit Somebody, but earlier this week we learned Hit Somebody is now a TV mini-series. So Smith has decided to make a different film instead, and he’s decided to bring his career full circle with Clerks III.

That Kevin Smith

So with the HIT SOMEBODY shift, the minute Jeff Anderson signs on, my last cinematic effort as a writer/director will be CLERKS
Smith’s first feature film, Clerks, hit theaters in 1994. The black and white comedy about two twenty-somethings who worked at a convenience store called “Quick Stop” and the video store adjacent to it was a breath of fresh air at the time, bringing a level of wit and self-analysis to the so-called “slacker” culture that hadn’t really been illustrated cinematically with much fairness yet. Along with Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, also released in 1994, Smith’s foul-mouthed dialogue, steeped in popular culture, was highly influential in the years that followed. Many of the characters in Clerks, particularly the drug dealers Jay and Silent Bob (the latter of which played by Smith himself), appeared in most of Smith’s films that followed, creating a “View Askewniverse” that linked most of his films.

Smith revisited the main characters of Clerks, Dante Hicks (Brian O’Halloran) and Randal Graves (Jeff Anderson), twice in the years that followed. First in the short-lived “Clerks: The Animated Series,” which ran only two episodes on ABC in 2000 before it was cancelled (later to find a sizable audience on DVD), and then in 2006’s Clerks II, which caught up with the characters years down the road, still trapped in retail and dealing with the perils of maturity as the hopelessness of their careers started taking its toll.

No word yet on where Smith would plan to take the characters. When we last saw them in Clerks II they had become small-business owners, so perhaps the third film in the franchise would focus on the frustrations that come from management, dealing with the kinds of employees they themselves used to be. Or maybe they’ll fight aliens on the planet Zontar. Who knows?