Offering an exhaustive chronological look at the life of pop culture powerhouse Kevin Smith, Clerk fails to tell us something new about the man behind the View Askewniverse.
Clerk is the definitive Kevin Smith documentary offering a step-by-step account of an unlikely career that forever changed indie film and pop culture. Unfortunately, it has little to offer Smith’s diehard audience.
Assembled by Smith’s longtime friend and Small Town Gay Bar filmmaker Malcolm Ingram, Clerk details virtually every beat of Kevin Smith’s life and career. From the well-reported influence of Slacker and Clerks’ surprise success to the heart attack that made him rethink his health and creative pursuits, not one stone is left unturned.
Filling in the details about the most critical moments in the world-renowned wordsmith’s life is a cast of friends and family that will be familiar to anyone who enjoys Smith’s work. There are also appearances from those that inspired and are inspired by his films, including Richard Linklater, Penn Jillette, and Jason Reitman. But the real star of the show is the man himself, who speaks at length on his life and the pivotal moments.
And therein lies the biggest problem with Clerk. Smith is a beautiful storyteller who has spent most of his career detailing his life on and off camera for anyone willing to listen. Between a decade of podcasting, multiple books, countless live appearances, interviews, and his days on the View Askew message boards, Smith has already told every story found in Clerk several times over. The addition of differing perspectives on certain moments helps freshens up this familiar material, but the takeaways are the same.
It’s easy to understand why someone would want to make a movie about Kevin Smith. People love underdog stories. Smith is perhaps the best modern real-world example of an outcast who overcame impossible odds to serve as the voice for a generation of pop culture obsessives before such interests were commonplace. However, great documentaries require a bit of mystery, and there is little mystery left to Kevin Smith’s existence for anyone who enjoys his work.
No one can tell Kevin Smith’s story better than the man himself. His presence throughout Clerk helps add value to the proceedings, as do the people who owe Smith for their careers, but Ingram’s latest will leave many fans wishing they’d spent two hours revisiting Smith’s films instead.