Clerks II ★★★★½

Staying faithful to everything that made its predecessor an instant classic, taking its graphic humour to a whole new level of extremity and exhibiting a significant upgrade in all aspects, Kevin Smith's follow-up to his 1994 debut feature is definitely one of the funniest, crudest & raunchiest comedies to surface on the silver screen yet carries a charm that most examples of its genre lack.

Set 10 years after the events of the first film, Clerks II follows yet another day in the lives of Dante & Randal who, after the accidental incineration of their respective stores, now work at a fast food restaurant. Dante is about to leave his dead-end lifestyle to settle down in Florida with his girlfriend, Randal has a surprise going-away party planned for his best friend, and both Jay & Silent Bob are still around selling drugs.

Written & directed by Kevin Smith, Clerks II is a huge improvement over Clerks that takes everything that was remarkable about the original and catapults it to a new high. The film is hilarious from its opening moments and it only gets better as the story progresses. Smith's direction also exhibits considerable enhancement in his handling of the coarse humour and thanks to its equally impressive storyline, it's his best film to date.

The screenplay brims with welcome references to the original, explores an extensive range of profanities, parodies almost everything it comes across, and finishes on a high note with an inspiring, thoughtful & heartwarming ending that nicely explores the beauty of friendship. There is one sequence that throws in Star Wars vs Lord of the Rings argument, and despite being a devoted fan of the latter, it was impossible for me to not laugh like crazy while it was being mercilessly bashed.

Even the technical aspects are brilliantly executed and are a step up from its predecessor which is to be expected given its higher budget. The camera bookends the film with black-n-white segments as a throwback to the original yet for the most part, its colour palette is effectively used. Editing is expertly carried out too for there isn't a single dull moment in the picture and its 97 minutes of story simply flies by. And also worthy of a mention is its excellent choice of songs that compliment the narrative.

Coming to the performances, the cast comprises of the same guys who were present in the previous chapter with most notable new addition being Rosario Dawson, who plays the manager of the fast food restaurant. The chemistry between Dante & Randal is as amazing as before and same goes for Jay & Silent Bob who are allotted more screen time here. The entire cast chips in with valuable inputs in their given roles and even though the performances aren't by any means outstanding, it's good enough to stay away from the complaint zone.

On an overall scale, Clerks II is an ideal sequel to Clerks that has to go down in my book as one of the most rib-tickling, unabashedly funny & endlessly fascinating comedies I've ever seen. It has the unparalleled humour of South Park, the characters are as idiosyncratic as I expected, and even its dramatic segments carry a certain amount of depth & happen to be as rewarding as its moments of comedy. Highly enjoyable, wildly entertaining & immensely satisfying, Clerks II comes highly recommended for there is nothing about this genre masterpiece that I don't like.

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