Kevin Smith's debut movie Clerks caused a stir when it first appeared 12 years ago. A winning combination of lo-fi filmmaking, pop culture references and scatology, it was hailed as the emergence of a brand new slacker talent. Since then, Smith's career has not so much rocketed as meandered, and it was inevitable that sooner or later he would drop in on his convenience store heroes, Dante and Randal, once again. The question is, has anything changed?
Well, kinda. The ever-anxious Dante (Brian O Halloran) and his foul-mouthed pal Randal (Jeff Anderson) are looking a little older, and they've gone colour, but their lives are as becalmed as they were 12 years ago. They've swapped their convenience store for a burger shack, where they while away the hours insulting customers, discussing sex in eye-watering detail and arguing the relative merits of Star Wars and the Lord Of The Rings. Real life hovers threateningly on the horizon: Dante is on the verge of getting married, but he's secretly in love with his sexy boss (Rosario Dawson, in a typical Kevin Smith wish-fulfilment role) and even the relentlessly juvenile Randal is starting to wonder where his life is going.
"DON'T EXPECT SUBTLETY"
But don't worry, the life lessons take a backseat to the jokes. Smith has never been much of a director, but he knows how to write dialogue, and the gags here are as funny as anything he's done since, well, Clerks. Don't expect subtlety. The film's climactic scene - centring on what is apparently known as "inter-species erotica" - is in such astoundingly poor taste that you can't help but admire the chutzpah. And somewhere underneath the filth, Clerks II is really a very sweet movie about growing up.