What more can be said for Clerks? Kevin Smith, working with a non existent budget of credit cards, no name actors (friends of his), and a brilliantly improvised set, made one of the funniest and most poignant look at life in the 1990s.
The characters were crude, the location was grimy and the dialogue was as sharp as it was hilarious and it all came together to effectively capture all the angst, humor and heartbreak, of being a 20 something that transcends even the 1990s.
I first saw Clerks in a friends' basement when I was in high school. Even now, in my ripe old age of 37 ( in a row!!), I find myself laughing at the antics of Dante and Randall. My wife, who is a lot younger than I am, can rarely escape a quote or wiseass remark that comes to mind from the film.
So to anyone whose never seen the film, I highly suggest you run out to the video store....Oh wait, those are gone, BUY this DVD - you won't regret it. I have to go now, and play hockey on the roof of my office before the paramedics come for the dead guy sleeping with Caitlin Bree in the bathroom.
Was it a groundbreaking movie? Yes. It proved that anyone could make a movie and created a template for future amateur filmmakers to work from. That doesn't mean it was great, or frankly even good. From a technical perspective, Smith is a bad director. The acting is wooden. The plot.....There is no plot. The dialog is contrived. Not even a good movie.
I do not think the 1990s were a great time period for movies in general, but Clerks was not the greatest film of that time period. The greatest film of the 1990s in my opinion was Edward Scissorhands starring Johnny Depp. The acting was phenomenal and that film will live on forever.
I do think that these conversations have to be split into distinct categories with certain appeal to certain groups of people. While I could go on about the brilliance of films like Goodfellas, Silence of the Lambs, American Beauty, etc., I think I'm going to keep this in the same field as Clerks. Even then, when it comes to films that appealed to youth in the 90's and were independently made, Clerks isn't the best, but it's definitely in a class with other amazing films. I think My Own Private Idaho was better, so was Dazed and Confused and Empire Records. I will probably even go out on a limb and say that Mallrats was better than Clerks, but as I said before, this is not to discredit Clerks in any way. If you look at films that were influential on youth in the 90's, Clerks is definitely on the list. I just think movies like My Own Private Idaho, Dazed and Confused, and Empire Records had better overall writing and direction, while Mallrats was a little more cohesive than Clerks. There's also Welcome to the Dollhouse, Kids, Go, and Lost Highway, all of which could have a case made for them. Clerks was very influential, sure, and definitely sits toward the top of my list of best movies of the decade (independent and otherwise), but when I compare it to the other cinematic works I listed in this comment, there are things Clerks does not exceed them in. But at the same time, I think this is more a testament to how good independent movies were in the 1990's.
Only if no other films had been made in that decade. Schindler's List , GoodFellas , Saving Private Ryan, The Silence of the Lambs, Fargo, Unforgiven, Shawshank Redemption , Malcolm X , American Beauty , Dances With Wolves, and Forrest Gump were all made in that decade. Clerks had some good points but was hardly in a league with the above movies.