Tuesday, February 9, 2010
So Melissa and I finally managed to get a night out for a date tonight. In our town, the downtown district has a setup on Tuesdays: Dinner and a Movie. The premise is, you go downtown, eat a meal, go to the Avalon, present your receipt, and you get two free admissions to a movie that has been out for a while.
So, I find out that the movie they're showing is the seminal slacker anthem "Clerks", Kevin Smith's first film that he shot back in 1994. Now the movie was never commercially released in theaters - it was a straight to video release from the now defunct Miramax. The film follows two clerks at work for one day. Dante Hicks, the "main" character of the film, and his antagonistic, foul mouthed, acerbic pseudo-sidekick Randall Graves.
WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD! Now, if you haven't seen the movie by now, that's your own damn fault. The movie has been out for fifteen freakin' years now.
Anyways, Clerks is to the shiftless, slacker, lay-a-bout set as Seinfeld was to everyone else who watched television. Dante is called into work on his day off, and like the spineless tool he is, goes into work. Setting up the store for the day, he discovers that papers have not been delivered, someone has stuck gum in the padlocks, shoe polish stench does not wash off, and a gum salesman stages a near riot to increase sales of his gum product.
Throughout the day, Dante has to contend with bizarre customers, angry customers, hockey games, a wake, being chased out of a wake by an angry mob, self-involved drug dealers, a foul mouthed, acerbic, perennially late, hermaphrodite porn lovin' friend, an ex-girl friend who has a naughty tryst with a dead jew, and a girlfriend who reveals that while she has only slept with three guys, she's orally manipulated thirty-six guys (thirty-seven, if you count Dante).
So we're sitting in the theater, watching the beginning of the movie. I'm thoroughly enjoying the film, and Jay and Silent Bob walk onto the screen. Jay starts dropping F-Bombs like he's in Vietnam cleaning out a village, and two older women in front of Melissa and I get up and walk out.
Always a good sign.
So we're watching the show, and I'm laughing like a fool, reliving all of my favorite scenes, and I happen to glance around the theater. The only couple younger than us in the theater has to be in their 20's. (Melissa and I are in our Thir- twenties! Twenties!) All the other viewers are in their late 40's - and I'm thinking to myself 'holy shit' this theater is going to be empty by the end of the movie.
So, the movie ends, and we all get up to leave, and I ask Melissa what she thought of the movie. "It's not my type of movie" was her reply. Now, Melissa and I have been married for ten years now, and I tend to forget that our taste in films is often different.
On the way home, we discuss why I enjoy the movie so much. "I guess if I was fifteen when the movie came out I would have enjoyed it more" Melissa explained. "Well, I think that the reason the movie was so popular was that it was aimed at Generation X, and it was also the mindset of the viewers who watched it."
That got me to thinking - what was it about Clerks that I find so appealing? As we rounded a corner, it finally struck me as to why I liked Clerks so much. "I think that the reason I like the movie so much is because at that time, I was 19, and I felt like I was Dante Hicks. I was always knuckling under to pressure, I couldn't say 'no' if my life depended on it, I was in a dead end job, and I was constantly bitching and complaining about my situation on life, but was unable to man up enough to make any change to better myself. Then you came along and made me change. In order to change my life, I had to be willing to make those changes."
"So you're saying I bullied you into changing?" Melissa asked.
"No, no.... it was because of you that I decided to make these changes. I guess to draw a parallel between us and the movie, you're Randall to my Dante during the 'Epiphany' chapter. The rest of the time, Randall was all of my friends from that time period."
So, now that I'm older, wiser, a little thicker around the middle, I have come to realize that while most people watch Clerks for the humorous anecdotes in it, on some primeval level, it made me take stock of what was important in my life - and at that time, it was getting my shit together so I didn't blow the biggest good thing in my life.
That being said, I would just like to say this:
Melissa, thank you for being there for me when I need you, and for slapping me into shape when I need it.
Also: Smith's films include the aforementioned Clerks (Awesome), Mallrats (great), chasing amy (great), Dogma (Brilliant), Jersey Girl (Jesus what a mess), Zach and Miri make a porno (You are not Judd Apatow! Don't try to imitate a pale imitator) Clerks 2 (Have not seen), and the forthcoming Cop Out (haven't seen yet).
Check 'em out - buy a comic book or two of his, show him some love.