Clerk Review (Kevin Smith Documentary)

PLOT: Filmmaker Malcolm Ingram explores the career of Kevin Smith, from Clerks to Tusk to his world famous SModcast.

REVIEW: I love Kevin Smith. I have great respect for the man as a filmmaker, a pop culture icon, a storyteller, and a genuinely kind human being. Before I first interviewed him, he had already had an impact on my life. When I attended film school, out of all the classic monologues I could have chosen to do in acting class, I convinced my scene partners to take on Clerks and Chasing Amy. For me, it was always about the dialogue and the characters within the world Mr. Smith created that were so engaging. And all these years later, my respect for him has only grown. Now, filmmaker Malcolm Ingram brings fans an inside look into why so many have found inspiration in the work of Mr. Smith.

Clerk begins appropriately exploring the reception from audiences and critics to Kevin Smith’s celebrated indie classic Clerks. The documentary maneuvers through his successes, his failures, as well as his journey to be more than just the guy who makes funny movies. The film follows his frustration with the disappointing box office of Mallrats. It delves into the personal story explored in Chasing Amy. His unique take on horror with features like Red State, Tusk, and Yoga Hosers takes center stage at times. However, the most profound moments examine his near fatal heart attack and how he found his way back to health. In addition, we hear stories from many of the actors, friends, and filmmakers he’s worked with throughout the years.

The film introduces us to a young and dedicated man who happened to find inspiration in Richard Linklater’s classic Slacker. And this led to the film that caused quite a stir in Hollywood. Clerks took this town by storm, and it garnered buzz with its Sundance premiere. And ultimately, it was purchased by Miramax and became a surprise hit playing on a little more than 50 screens in theatres. The success was enough to put the filmmaker in the spotlight. It was satisfying as a viewer to watch Smith and company reminisce about Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, and all the early films that helped create a pop-culture legend. Dogma followed, which led to protests from religious fanatics, and of course, turned Alanis Morrisette into God. It was also interesting to hear Smith’s take on movies like Jersey Girl, Cop Out, and Zack and Miri Make a Porno, well after the dust has cleared.

What’s most impressive about Clerk is that it simply allows Kevin Smith and people that know him to tell his story. It was nice to hear Richard Linklater talk about how Slacker inspired the black and white and crude comedy Clerks. Yet, one of the most charming elements of the film comes from Smith’s mother, Grace Smith, his wife, Jennifer Schwalbach Smith, and his daughter, Harley Quinn Smith. It’s clear he’s surrounded by love and support, and it damn near brought tears to my eyes as Harley opened up about her father’s heart attack. Yet all the interviews included are entertaining. Jason Mewes always offers a little rough humor to the occasion. Even Justin Long brings a couple of great stories about a human walrus. But some of the most profound and moving tales come from Smith’s relationship with his partner Scott Mosier.

Revisiting these films, his many Comic-Con stories, and the inclusion of Stan Lee all make for a funny and fast-paced look inside Kevin Smith’s fascinating career. My only complaint is that there wasn’t enough time to go deeper into each subject. It would have been worthwhile to go further into some of the more challenging periods in his life. You could easily make a documentary on several of these subjects alone. And frankly, it would’ve been nice to hear more about the many roles Smith has taken on as an actor. Thankfully, his passion for speaking to an audience is on full display. If you’ve never had the chance to see his on stage engagements, I highly recommend doing so. Kevin Smith helped bring his admiration for comics, movies, and all things pop culture to fans in a way that reminded us it’s truly okay to be a fan. It should be something we celebrate.

Malcolm Ingram’s Clerk covers a lot of ground. It’s an enlightening look at the man who captured indie movie lovers’ hearts and remains relevant as a filmmaker, a modern pop culture icon, a comic book writer, and pretty much everything in between. Ultimately, it offers a personal look into the life and career of Kevin Smith, one that will satisfy everyone familiar with the term “Snoochie Boochies.” The interviews with Brian J. Quinn (Impractical Jokers), Joey Lauren Adams (Chasing Amy), and Brian O’Halloran (Clerks) all help tell this delightful tale. If you appreciate the work of Mr. Smith, you will love this. Frankly, even if you don’t, it will likely give a little insight into his humor, his humanity, as well as his impressive career. Perhaps the last thing I want to say about it is that I’m personally thankful for Kevin Smith and all that he has accomplished. The documentary Clerk opens today, and it’s well worth watching if you happen to be needing a little humor and heart in your life.




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JimmyO is one of’s longest-tenured writers, with him reviewing movies and interviewing celebrities since 2007 as the site’s Los Angeles correspondent.