Kevin Smith is a name that carries through numerous generations. For some, he is the director of indie-classic, “Clerks.” For others, he could be the guy in an Islanders jersey from “Comic Book Men.” Regardless of what you may know him from, his legacy on not only geek culture but the indie film world as a whole cannot be denied. “Clerk,” not to be confused with his 1994 cult film, is a documentary that does the subject justice by showing a whole new side of the filmmaker. Even fans of Smith will likely come out of “Clerk” with at least one new thing learned through this documentary.
The icing on the cake of this already great documentary is the appearances sprinkled throughout. Richard Linklater, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Stan Lee, Quentin Tarantino all make an appearance one way or another, even if it’s archival; as in the case with the latter two. Costars Jason Mewes and Brian O’Halloran have the most significant talking heads, which makes sense considering their close relationship with Smith. Linklater has the most interesting appearances, however. The inspiration of “Dazed and Confused” is all over “Clerks,” and having Linklatter throw jabs at Smith shows the human side of both legendary directors. Though all of the names listed go a long way in building the ethos of Smith throughout; sharing wonderful stories and memories.
“Clerk” does play a lot like a Cliffnotes guide of Smith’s career. Fittingly for a New Jersey native, “Clerk” opens with classic Bruce Springsteen. From there on, stops are taken with each film in his filmography, with stories about the production, reception, or personal matters of the time there to supplement each chapter. It does feel a tad bit cheesy and rushed to an extent, but this is where most of the first hour focuses. The second hour of “Clerk” is far more interesting; as it talks more about Smith the person than the filmmaker. Seeing the unique way in which Smith interacts with fans; doing the most he can to make it feel as though he has a real relationship with them.
Smith went from being an altar boy to a pastor in some ways. He captivates audiences through Q&As and films alike, and he was one of the biggest evangelists for comic books; helping them become mainstream. “Clerk” is a documentary that toes the line between being too much of a puff-piece about Smith. Most importantly, it opens up a whole new side of Smith that casual fans — who may only know him by name — can now see and perhaps have a whole new world opened up to them. It’s not a groundbreaking documentary, but it serves its goal and accomplishes its mission.
“Clerk” will be available to rent on November 23.