My high school yearbook come to life | Clerks III

Clerks III (2022) is just as layered and interesting and delightful as Clerks the First was back in 1994. The thing that makes Dante (Brian O’Halloran) and Randal (Jeff Anderson) so relatable is the same thing that makes them so funny. They’re us. They have pretty much the same dumb friends and do the same dumb shit as they ever did, and before they knew it, they built a life from it.

Clerks III shows us the hubris and downfall that happen when we forget about the little things that get us through the day, and allow them to run one another. When you live like this, you miss all the good stuff, you guys.

As I listen to Chewbacca from the original Clerks soundtrack, I am remembering the guy from Altered State Comics here in St. Louis telling me not to suck any dicks on the way to my car. In front of my really big husband. And my son. I laughed my ass off, because we went to high school together.

Only not really—I went to a Podunk central Missouri high school and he went to some six degrees of St. Louis high school, I’m sure, and knew either Jenna Fischer or Jon Hamm. (Hamm’s a pretty good guy and Jenna was in my drama program at NEMO.)

But we had Kevin Smith’s movies enter our lives at the same time, and so in effect, we went to high school together. We got our religion and faith handed back to us with Dogma. We got to laugh at god together and see Alanis Morissette in her true form. And we got to see a group of young adults improve their scope, acting, and on-screen life choices. Mostly. In Clerks III, we have landed solidly in Middle-Aged Gen X.

Do you know what happens when you’re a middle-aged person? People that have been a fixture of your life for most of it…they die. Smith didn’t pull any punches here. We got to see the aching pain of loss in a relationship that we’ve cheered for since its inception. It wasn’t just cheering. We love these characters because we know them. We’ve been the one who was aiming out of our league in love. We’ve been a bad friend. We all know each other’s weaknesses now, and it takes a cold heart to say them out loud. With Clerks III, and the heartache and pain that it brought with it, we got our reunion at last. This is supposed to be a comedy, but we’re in our forties now, and we’re fuckin’ tired, man.

I watched Clerks III at the Pageant with my husband, Joe, and a packed house of View Askiewniverse fans. Joe has almost lost me to various illnesses a dozen times in the last few years, and in Clerks III, Randal almost dies after suffering a “widow maker” heart attack, inspired by the same thing happening to Smith in real life in 2018. When I tell you that both Joe and I wept, it wasn’t from laughing. It was from the realization that our clocks are ticking, and that we can’t possibly say I love you enough.

I love you, Bear. Just in cases.

I love Kevin Smith, too. The Archive of my 1990s, 2000s, and now 2022. Thank you for holding my memories. They’re slippery little fuckers, but now I can hold the painful ones, too, and laugh when I think of the look on my 17-year old’s face when he heard someone tell his MOM not to suck 37 dicks on the way to the car.

I’ll do my best, comic book guy, but I’m not making any promises. | Melissa Cynova

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