This article contains spoilers for Clerks III
This article contains discussions of a sexual nature.
The long-awaited third installment of the beloved Clerks franchise was just released in theaters on the 16th of September. It comes 16 years after Clerks II, and almost 30 years since the first pioneering independent film that started it all.
In the meta Clerks III, Randal sets out to make a Clerks-esque film inspired by a heart attack-induced midlife crisis, rather than the early 20s restlessness that drove Kevin Smith to make his first feature. The making of Clerks has become the stuff of legend, and the third installment contains many Easter eggs to both the first movie and the elaborate View Askewniverse that has unraveled since. And “I assure you,” there are a few that are easy to miss.
A Familiar Title
After Randal writes his screenplay all in one night, a great title comes to him: Inconvenience. This is a play on words, as he works in a convenience store and yet is inconvenienced by his many zany customers who disturb his peace.
It’s the first clue that Randal’s film will be identical to Clerks as, in the 2004 documentary Snowball Effect: The Story of Clerks, Kevin Smith reveals that Inconvenience was the working title for the original film back in 1994. During post-production, it was changed to Rude Clerks and then shortened to simply Clerks.
A Familiar Heart Attack
In the sequence in which Randal suffers a heart attack, much of it is lifted directly from the life of Kevin Smith. He suffered a near-fatal heart attack in 2018 where, in tandem with his character, he had an 80/20 odds of survival. The hilarious back and forth Randal has with his nurse (played by View Askewniverse veteran, Justin Long) where he is reluctant to take off his pants, is one that Kevin Smith had for real. He recently recounted the story on Steve-O’s Wild Ride podcast.
Randal’s doctor, played by comedy icon Amy Sedaris, comments that he will like the name of his type of heart attack because of his superhero tattoo. The “Widowmaker” is the supervillain-sounding name that was also told to Smith, and it’s extremely serious, as the name implies.
A whole host of familiar faces and friends of Kevin Smith take part in the auditions for Inconvenience. Ben Affleck gives his best De Niro impression as “Boston John,” named after a message board poster on Viewaskew.com. Supergirl Melissa Benoist stars as an enthusiastic theater major, with Smith having directed several episodes of the series. Freddie Prinze Jr. auditions as himself, and his wife, Sarah Michelle Gellar, also shouts the classic line: “I’m not even supposed to be here today!”
Also starring is comedian Fred Armisen, Machete star Danny Trejo, impractical jokers James Murray and Joe Gatto, Clerks producer Scott Mosier, stand-up Sal Vulcano, Comedy Central staple Donnell Rawlings, Kevin Smith’s mother Grace, and many, many more.
“Like A Pornography Movie?”
When hearing of Randal’s sudden urge to make a movie, many of those around him assume that it’s a pornography movie, perhaps due to his character’s penchant for porn films in Clerks. As a video store clerk, he lists off every porn film that they stock in front of a mother and her child.
This is also a subtle reference to Kevin Smith’s 2008 film, Zack And Miri Make A Porno, which stars Jeff Anderson alongside Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks, as the director of a DIY porno.
Jason Mewes Becomes Jay
When Randal decides to simply cast his friends in Inconvenience, producer Dante exclaims ‘You can’t just make regular people into movie stars!’ The camera cuts to Jay bursting into the Quick Stop, to highlight how the real-life Jason Mewes was made a movie star through his role in Clerks. Kevin Smith has often said that Jason Mewes was such a character in his personal life that he’d always wanted to cast him as himself in a film.
However, Jason was extremely camera shy. The scene in which Jay refuses to do his silly dance in front of the crew of Inconvenience is taken directly from a story on the set of Clerks. Mewes revealed to Cinemablend: “That really happened, me asking people to go inside and not watch me, or to go out if we were filming inside.”
$27,575 & 21 Days
When Dante signs on to become the producer of Randal’s project, he is told that it will take 21 days and cost $27,575. Clerks took this exact amount of money to produce, not adjusted for inflation.
Kevin Smith maxed out credit cards and sold much of his prestigious comic book collection to raise the funds. The shoot also lasted 21 days exactly, or rather nights. Smith shot it mostly at night so that Quick Stop could remain in operation during opening hours.
In a shock to every Clerks fan, Dante meets his end in the film, and he is reunited with Becky. Before his fatal heart attack, Randal attempts to shoot a scene to intensify the drama in Inconvenience, by having Dante shot and killed by a robber. Producer Dante talks him out of it, saying he doesn’t want to be killed in the third act.
In reality, Smith didn’t know how to end Clerks and decided to shoot a pessimistic final scene in which Dante dies in a fatal robbery. However, it was thankfully cut before its premiere, although Dante eventually meets his end in the third act of Clerks III: and the third act of the franchise as a whole.
Marylin Ghigliotti reprises her role as Dante’s lasagna gifting ex-girlfriend, Veronica, for the very first time in Clerks III. When she and Dante are reunited, she cries about her bad day and about her age, to which he replies that she “doesn’t look a day over 37,” with a knowing look.
This is in reference to the famous scene in Clerks where Dante and Randal are taken aback by Veronica’s number of oral sex partners: 37.
Retail’s Richard Linklater
When Veronica is furious with Randal’s offensive script, she insults him by comparing him to a “two-bit strip-mall Soderbergh.” He has an amazing comeback, replying that sees himself more as “retail’s Richard Linklater.”
Kevin Smith famously shot Clerks on a tiny budget after being inspired after seeing Before Sunrise director Richard Linklater’s Slacker on his 21st birthday. He said to PBS that with Slacker, Linklater made being a filmmaker seem possible.
New Generation Of Milk
At the very end of the film, as Randal adapts to life at the Quick Stop without his best bud, there’s a shot of a customer looking for the best date on a carton of milk and emptying the whole fridge onto the floor. This mirrors a scene in Clerks, in which Smith’s mother plays a customer doing the same thing.
This time, it’s his daughter, Harley Quinn Smith, who canonically is actually Jay’s daughter, Millennium “Milly” Faulken, as introduced in Jay And Silent Bob Reboot. She’s looking for the best date on oat milk instead: this being because Smith switched to his daughter’s vegan diet after his life-threatening heart attack.
Those who waited for a post-credit sequence in the spirit of the superhero movies that Smith loves so dearly were delightfully surprised by a heartfelt speech by the director.
In it, he recounts his reasons for making Clerks III: namely that his fans could see the production process of Clerks in color, just as he did back in the ’90s. He also tells audiences of an ending that wasn’t to be, and thanks his fans for being along for the ride all these years.