Tomorrow, America celebrates Labor Day, a holiday instituted to commemorate the impact the Labor movement had on American culture. Yesterday’s “Last Exit to Brooklyn,” delved into the role of unions themselves. But there are many good films to watch on Labor Day weekend that reflect attitudes about the workplace. An offbeat and irreverent example is “Clerks,” from 1994.
In “Clerks,” Dante Hicks (played by Brian O’Halloran) reluctantly comes to his convenience store job when he is called in on his day off. Although he was only needed for a few hours, he finds himself stuck for the day. His friend, Randal Graves (played by Jeff Anderson), works at a neighboring video store. Dante is in for a bad day. Although he has a girlfriend, he is disappointed to read in a newspaper that a former girlfriend is now engaged. He decides to follow up on his original plan for his day off, playing hockey with his friends, by closing the store for an hour or so and inviting everyone to play the game on the roof of the store.
“Clerks” has a very funny screenplay that was written by its director, Kevin Smith. It veers into gross humor territory, so viewers who dislike this form of entertainment should be forewarned. The movie effectively shows that Dante and Randal hate their jobs since they have to deal with a lot of stupid customers, such as one who works for a gum company and harasses the customers about the dangers of smoking and encourages them to buy gum. But their slacker approach to life means that they lack the motivation that would position them for more meaningful employment
Brian O’Halloran and Jeff Anderson are both quite good. Dante is melodramatic since he has a lousy job. Randal is more upbeat, even though he has an equally lousy job.
“Clerks” is one of Kevin Smith’s best films.