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YMMV / Clerks

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  • And You Thought It Would Fail: The first public screening of the film at IFFM was a complete disaster. The theater was deserted, with an audience of twelve, ten of whom were cast and crew, leaving Smith humiliated and heartbroken. Fortunately, one of the two other audience members just happened to be journalist Bob Hawk, who loved the film and set into motion bringing it to the attention of the Sundance Film Festival and, eventually, Miramax Films.
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  • Cult Classic: What basically amounts to an expensive, glorified home movie gained a surprisingly large fanbase and helped launch an entire film universe.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: A day in the life of two blue-collar workers wouldn't be complete without some particularly blue jokes.
    • Dante telling Veronica that he's willing to have sex with a vegetable (as in a paraplegic person) because "they put up the least amount of struggle."
    • A real-life video store clerk reading off a list of increasingly vulgar porno titles in front of a mother and child? Worthy of termination. Randal doing this while seeming to forget that the mother and child are there? Funny. The list just going on and on and on? Hysterical!
    • As the old man who died jerking off in the bathroom is carried out by the coroners, his massive Raging Stiffie is still clearly visible under the white sheet covering him.
    • To a certain extent, Caitlin accidentally having sex with the old man's corpse: while the act itself is treated seriously, the audacity of Dante's serially unfaithful girlfriend trying, for once, to be faithful and still ending up having sex with someone else, that someone else being a grim Brick Joke, is too insane not to be funny.
      • Dante freaking out over the possibility that someone in the bathroom raped his girlfriend? Not funny in the slightest. Randal's reply, "I thought she said she did all the work"? Wrong, but funny.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Jay and Silent Bob.
    • The customer who asks "In a row?" when Dante finds out about his girlfriend's sexual history.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • The part where Veronica and (especially) Dante berate each other over their sex lives was played for laughs in this movie. However, in Chasing Amy, Holden has a similar reaction to Alyssa when he finds out about her previous sexual experiencesnote , which was played entirely for drama and is why their relationship ultimately didn't work out. And that was in turn based off of Kevin Smith and Joey Lauren Adams' relationship.
    • Caitlin is last seen being taken away in an ambulance. Her actress, Lisa Spoonauer, was the first cast member to die. Not only that, but the coroner informs Dante that Catlyn will need years of therapy after fucking a dead guy. Spoonauer spent the rest of her life after the movie getting chemotherapy for a chronic illness (by the time she died, all the chemo had caused her organs to fuse together).
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  • Harsher in Hindsight: During their confrontation in the video store, Caitlin tells Dante that she wants to focus on her career, rather than simply go right from college into an early marriage and (presumably) motherhood. Lisa Spoonauer, her actress, gave up on a career after discovering she had a chronic illness to become a full-time mother until her death.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Fellatio doesn't count as sex, eh?
    • On the commentary featured on the DVD, the director says that the Soul Asylum video on the DVD is the closest thing to a sequel that the film would ever get.
    • Meta: Jeff Anderson refused to read the list of porno titles in front of the mother and child, so the scene was shot in close up with Reaction Shots added. Judd Apatow, considered to be Kevin Smith's Spiritual Successor, has since done numerous movies where characters shamelessly curse in front of children.
    • Randall's monologue on the destruction of the second Death Star in Return of the Jedi included the statement that storm troopers don't know jack about installing toilet mains. Then The Force Awakens gives us Finn, a storm trooper who worked on Starkiller Base (the Spiritual Successor to the Death Star) in sanitation. This means there might be at least one storm trooper who knows how to install a toilet main after all.
    • Iced coffee has become far more popular since the film was made, so new viewers will likely just be confused at someone expecting it being included among the other idiot customers
  • Ho Yay: Randal towards Dante.
    Randal: Oh, hey Caitlin? Break his heart again this time, and I'll kill you... Nothing personal.
    Caitlin: You're very protective of him, Randal. You always have been.
    Randal: Territoriality. He was mine first.
  • Hype Backlash: Has appeared on several "Most Overrated Films" lists.
  • I Am Not Shazam: Every single poster for the film seems to imply that all five characters featured on the posters are "clerks", when only two actually are.
  • It Was His Sled: Silent Bob speaks.
  • Jerkass Woobie
    • Dante clearly has a lot issues, some in his control, some not, but it's hard to sympathize with him when he takes so little initiative to do anything about it outside of just bitching.
    • Caitlin's ultimate fate can be seen as a very extreme retribution for her infidelity: as callous as she was with Dante's emotions, she didn't deserve to be traumatized for life from accidentally fucking a corpse.
  • Narm: The actors are all either local talent or friends who just happened to be around. As a result, a lot of the acting isn't very good. Then again...
  • Narm Charm: You can forgive a lot of the film's flaws, maybe even find them endearing, when you remember that it was made on a $30,000 budget.
  • Nightmare Fuel: The alternate ending, where some random guy robs Dante at gunpoint, then shoots and kills him.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Silent Bob.
    "You know, there's a million fine-looking women in the world, dude. But they don't all bring you lasagna at work. Most of 'em just cheat on you."
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny
    • As Roger Ebert described in his review, most of the jobs you saw people working in movies circa 1994 were escapist characters like cops or lawyers, not average guys working at a minimum wage job, and making an interesting movie about average guys who worked those jobs and sat around all day navel gazing about pop culture and relationships was highly impressive. It ended up inspiring nearly every indie comedy for the next two decades until, by The New '10s, it was seen as achingly pretentious.note 
    • Production-wise, a presentable-looking feature made by a group of novices getting materials and using equipment on $30,000 was an impressive feat in 1993, and part of the acclaim it received was for the consensus that it was as good as it was in spite of this. In a day and age where any reasonably talented person could make it for half that amount using a smartphone and a home computer (as was the case with Tangerine, produced only 21 years later, and Unsane, released 24 years later), it seems like overkill.
  • Squick: Caitlyn's "encounter" in the Quick Stop's bathroom.
  • Strawman Has a Point: While Randal is correct to accuse Dante of blaming others and refusing to take responsibility for his own actions, he does still do things that Dante is well within his rights to be mad at him for: he peer pressures Dante into closing the store to go to a wake, then gets them thrown out for knocking over the casket, gets Dante slapped with a fine for selling cigarettes to a minor (because he was reading a porn magazine while manning the counter, no less), antagonizes multiple customers and eventually breaks up with his and Veronica's relationship, the last of which he considers to be doing Dante a favor (though by that point, he could have just assumed that Dante was flat-out admitting that he'd never take personal responsibility for it. Compounded with Randal being an idiot, you can't blame him too much for making that assumption, even if he had no business doing what he did).
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: As Randal puts it, "shit or get off the pot." In other words, "take responsibility for your life": self improvement isn't easy, but it's not impossible either, so if you're unhappy with your life and have the means to improve it, you need to accept that it'll take hard work and dedication. Otherwise, just accept what you have for what it is. Wallowing in self-pity will only make you more miserable and drive other people away.
  • Values Dissonance
    • Randall's appalled reaction to Dante's story about two of their male classmates getting married, calling it "frightening," "lurid," and referring to homosexuality as a "deviant lifestyle". In 1994 straight men being repulsed by homosexuality was generally accepted; not so much today.
    • Randall is seen reading a Hustler magazine during work hours. Today that would get him fired for sexual harassment.
    • Invoked with Dante's attitude to his own sexual history versus his girlfriend's. He's angry when he finds out how many dicks Veronica has sucked, but rapidly loses the moral high ground by retorting "This is different, this is important!" when she points out that she didn't get that mad at him for having sex with 12 previous girlfriends.
  • Wangst: Lampshaded. Dante does this all the time, to the point where Caitlin comes to visit him specifically because she knows he's probably spent the whole day agonizing over the wedding announcement. It's even implied that his self-pity is entirely the result of his refusal to get over Caitlin, a girl he dated in high school whom he has every reason not to care about any more. By the penultimate scene, Randal has finally had enough and tells Dante to get over himself.
    Dante: And you know what the real tragedy of all this is? I'm not even supposed to be here today!
    Randall: OH, FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU, PAL! [...] "I'm not even supposed to be here today", you sound like an asshole!
  • Writer Cop Out: The original ending where Dante gets killed by an armed robber. Kevin Smith openly admitted that he only did that because he had no idea how to wrap up the story and was happy to have been talked into cutting it.


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