Sunday, July 23, 2006

Clerks II

"A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter. He who finds one finds a treasure. A faithful friend is beyond price. No sum can balance his worth." Sirach 6:14-15

Let me confess that I myself am a huge fan of Kevin Smith. Yes, his films are crass, rude, and full of every sex and fart joke out there. But at their core, the anthology of Kevin Smith movies (Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back) have levels of spirituality that's relevant and brutally honest.

Many of his movies seem like Kevin Smith's own autobiography on celluloid. The writer/director and his characters are the young adults of today, men and women in their late 20s and early 30s, betwixt their youth and middle age. Like other young adults, he feels at a standstill between the high school and college years still remembered and the adult life ahead. The one constant, however, in all his movies is the incredible gift of friendship.

Whether it's between two relationship-starved guys (Mallrats), two cartoonists (Chasing Amy), two angels (Dogma), two dope-peddling slackers (Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back), or two clerks (Clerks and its sequel, Clerks II), friendship is the central theme of the View Askewniverse (named for Smith's production company View Askew).

Clerks II carries that mantle well. Like all the other films, the other factor in the mix is relationships beyond the buddy. Perhaps it is Smith's own struggles with balancing friendship with relationships, but this theme continues on in this newest movie too.

This film is about the two titular clerks Dante Hicks (Brian O'Halloran) and Randal Graves (Jeff Anderson) and their struggle with growing up. Dante thinks he's figured out the answer in the act of escaping to Florida with a rich fiancee he does not love. What he would abandon for this prize is his true loves: his friendship with Randal (and with his supervisor Becky played by Rosario Dawson), his native New Jersey, and his beloved Quick Stop convinience store which burns down in the opening act of this movie.

Like the son of Sirach states, "a faithful friend is beyond price." (Sirach 6:15a). Dante soon discovers that he doesn't need to run from his Star Wars-theorizing, go-cart running, and girl chasing past, he just needs to balance it with his adult life.

For Randal and Dante, it means understanding the value of their friendship, being true to their roots, and being at peace with their reality that being simple (i.e. clerking) is not failure; no, it's just simplicity. They don't need to live in the past, but they do need to use it to live in the future. There is a moment in the film with Randal confesses his need for their friendship, and it wakes Dante up to a new awareness.

Finding a faithful friend these days is truly a treasure beyond price. In a sense, no matter what we do in life - from being the CEO of a major company or simply clerking behind the counter at the local Quick Stop - the real goal is to have good, solid relationships with those around us. In a world obsessed with success and financial gain, sometimes we need a Jersey slacker to remind us to focus on the real priorities God has laid before us.

...even if he has to use a few sex and fart jokes to make this deeply spiritual point.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think this is one of my favorite posts by you. I can really appreciate the power of friendship on days like today, where friends and other supports help you to see the light at the end of the tunnel, when you lose your way and stumble to keep going. There is a quote that I have always appreciated- "Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay awhile and leave footprints on our hearts. And we are never, ever the same." Although the author is anonymous, I think there is a lot of truth to that statment. I am trying to put that same idea on my own blog, because I feel strongly as well.
Do you think there are "angels' among us that can take the form of a friend? Just a thought.