SXSW FILM FESTIVAL 2021 REVIEW! Clerk, from writer and director Malcolm Ingram, is not some prequel to the Kevin Smith hit, but it does involve the fan-favorite. See, the documentary is the story of Smith’s life, career, and near death. At almost 2 hours long, the film leaves no stone unturned in its history of the fan-favorite filmmaker.
Ingram starts at the beginning, with Smith giving something of a tour of his hometown, explaining how his English class made him want to be a writer. His mom describes how he would fiddle with those “word processors” (yes, that is what she calls them) and that he always gravitated towards writing. Smith talks about how Richard Linklater’s Slacker influenced him to make a movie, and sure enough, Linklater is on hand to discuss his and Smith’s work and the culture of filmmaking at the time.
Of course, Smith’s go-to producer Scott Moser is on hand for very candid discussions of the ups and downs of making all the films, and yes, Clerk goes all the way up to the creation of Jay And Silent Bob Reboot. Smith’s brother is also on hand to share details. The filmmaker interviews many collaborators and frequent actors, such as Joey Lauren Adams and Matt Damon, as well. The new footage is intercut with older interviews, articles, and reviews from, on, or about Kevin Smith and his movies. It is quite an exhaustive journey that is overall pretty fun.
“…the story of Smith’s life, career, and near death.”
However, there is a problem. One that might only lurk about if one is a huge Kevin Smith fan, such as myself. But then, why would someone even be watching a whole film about Smith if they weren’t already a fan? See, for all the fun, lively interviews and amusing behind the scene stories being bandied about, there is not too much new information. Smith has always been very candid and honest about his life and the making of his pictures with his fans (to who he has always been quite generous). So, most of these stories have been reiterated elsewhere, which begs the question, why does Clerk exist?
Happily, the answer is relatively simple, even if the film offers very little new information: it is a celebration of a man’s legacy and work that, even when not critically well-received or a big box office hit, have found a way to speak to an audience in a way few other filmmakers have been able to. And as a celebration, the documentary is an uplifting and joyous experience filled with amusing stories and engaging anecdotes. There is something sweet about hearing Comic-Con attendees laud praise upon the nerd of nerds himself. Hearing directly from Stan Lee about the impact Smith had on the comic industry is invigorating.
Clerk is an incredibly detailed look at one of the filmmakers who helped transform geek culture one film at a time. While all the behind-the-scenes tidbits are probably already a known entity to the audience, the director ensures there’s just enough new information or a sweet/touching/funny moment to absolutely make the movie a must-see experience for anyone Kevin Smith fan. All in all, it is a fabulous celebration of one of the nicest and most unique voices making films.
Clerk screened at the 2021 SXSW Film Festival.
"…a fabulous celebration of one of the nicest and most unique voices making films."