Friday, October 12, 2012

Better Than The Black And White: Clerks The Animated Series!

The Good: FUNNY! Great humor, witty dialog, wonderful allusions
The Bad: Sub-par animation
The Basics: Despite lousy animation, Clerks is a hilarious series that wonderfully rips into popular culture icons.

When Kevin Smith began directing Clerks he probably had no idea he could spin it off into an animated series. The inexpensive black and white film that launched the brilliant filmmakers directing and acting career exploded with a life of its own. So, some years later, Smith sold the idea of the Clerks Animated Series to the least supportive television network out there, ABC. After two episodes on the air, Clerks was taken off. Fortunately, Smith was able to release the entire series on DVD.

Clerks Uncensored is the fruit of Smith's television labors. With six episodes at an average price of $19.95 for the two DVD set, this is one of the best values out there. If you're a fan of The Simpsons, buying this DVD set will be one of your best additions to your collection.

Clerks follows the exploits of Dante and Randal. Dante is a convenience store clerk and Randal sits (occasionally) behind the desk of a video rental store in Leonardo, New Jersey. The series follows their episodic adventures in Leonardo with a supporting cast of Jay and Silent Bob and the billionaire Leonardo Leonardo. The adventures include:

Leonardo Leonardo returning to New Jersey to build a huge shopping center in the attempt to ruin the Clerks,
Dante and Randal lock themselves into the freezer for a flashback episode,
A parody of Outbreak that begins when Randal feeds Leonardo Leonardo bad burritos and then Leonardo gets bit by a monkey,
The funniest sequence ever in a courtroom episode when Jay sues Dante,
Dante becomes the captain of a little league team while Randal becomes enslaved,
and a finale where a carnival comes to Leonardo and the Clerks are trapped in the store for the night to serve them.

Clerks is essentially about Dante and Randal and their misadventures and in the commentary, Kevin Smith remarks that the idea about the series was to do a series for people who grew up on The Simpsons. He wanted to make an intelligent animated series that appealed to the fans of The Simpsons. As a result, Clerks is largely built around ripping apart establishments of pop culture, such as Indiana Jones and prime-time television.

Kevin Smith succeeds in accomplishing that goal. This is a hilarious series and it replays extraordinarily well. When you, if you are a fan of it, get sick of watching the same episodes of The Simpsons over and over again, Clerks Uncensored is the way to go. It's fast paced and consistently funny.

Dante is a great deal more dynamic than he is in the film and he works as a more interesting character to watch in animated form. Still voiced by Brian O'Halloran who played Dante in Clerks, he infuses his vocal talents with humor beyond the lines, making up in a lot of ways for the crappy animation that defines the series.

Randal is even better in animated form than in the live action Clerks. Utilizing the vocal talents of Jeff Anderson, he makes an amazing animated character. Anderson has an ability to speak quickly and clearly that works perfectly for an animated character.

Clerks Uncensored is rounded out by the vocal talents of Alec Baldwin who voices Leonardo Leonardo. Listening to the show, it's almost impossible to guess that it is Alec Baldwin doing the voice, so distinctively different from his natural voice.

It may be only six episodes, but it is a hilarious little series and it ends up being the length of one movie. This is a must for anyone who is sick of stupid popular culture establishments and would like to see them torn apart. This is a triumph for comedy, even if it was so shortly lived on the television.

For other movies by Kevin Smith, please visit my reviews of:
Chasing Amy
Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back
Jersey Girl
Clerks II
Zack And Miri Make A Porno
Cop Out
Red State


For other television reviews, be sure to visit my Television Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2012, 2003 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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