In my newest post about the movies of Generation-X, I chose to write a little bit about one of the funnies comedies of the 1990s, Clerks.
The movie is kinda brilliant.
One of the problems with many films made about young people in the ‘90s is that screenwriters tried so hard to make their characters hip. Think about Reality Bites, a movie that sank under the weight of forced injection of pop culture references into every scene and the characters’ boring, drawn-out examinations of their lives.
And then consider Clerks, a welcome reaction to phony movies like Reality Bites. With its biting dialogue and true-to-life feel, you might actually want to spend a few hours discussing girls and Star Wars trivia with Clerks’ characters.
Kevin Smith’s first picture, shot in black-and-white on a $28,000 budget, looks at Dante (Brian O’Halloran) and Randal (Jeff Anderson), two slackers who work in adjoining retail stores in Jersey. Dante mans the register in a QuikStop market, while Randall runs a failing video store right next door. Stuck in dead-end jobs, the college dropouts spend their days discussing Return of the Jedi, stupid customers and fetish pornography with the same fervor as PhD candidates discussing their research.
I haven’t ever felt badly after viewing a John Hughes movie before. From Ferris Bueller to Sixteen Candles to Home Alone, I was never bored by any of his pics. Planes, Trains & Automobiles, Hughes only true “adult” movie, is a triumph of 1980s screenwriting and acting. So it’s sad to watch She‘s Having A Baby, another so-called “grown up“ pic. Even with a few good scenes, it’s easily the most boring movie with Hughes’s name attached to it. And a weak Hughes flick to me is strangely disheartening.
Kevin Bacon and Elizabeth McGovern star as Jake and Kristy Briggs, a couple of recent college graduates with minimal career aspirations and undying love for one another. For the first few minutes, Kevin Bacon gives an extremely boring voiceover chronicling his life from meeting his fiance until college graduation.
About two hours into Ryan’s Daughter, I was only thinking about an episode of “Seinfeld” I’d watched a few days earlier. That’s right. My mind wouldn’t stop mulling over the “English Patient” episode where Elaine finally slouches over next to J. Peterman in the middle of a screening of the film and screams “It’s too long!”
That how I feel about David Lean’s movie, and my stray thoughts present two problems. First, the film is a simple love story stretched into an unbearable running length. And secondly, I was thinking about an episode of “Seinfeld” for about the last hour of the picture when I should’ve been wrapped up in the action. Not a strong vote of confidence.