Clerks is one of the most significant independent films of the 90's, as it was one of the films that showed audiences that with the right group of people and a camera, anybody could make a movie. It made writer/director Kevin Smith an indie film superstar and launched his career, and top of that, it's still absolutely fucking hilarious and relatable. Anybody who has ever worked in the service industry can relate to this film's witty dialogue, its spot-on customer interactions, and the basic idea that serving idiots for chump change is a shit show.
Our conduits into the lives of convenience store clerks are Dante (O'Halloran) and Randal (Anderson), two friends who work near each other. Dante works at Quik Stop Groceries and Randal works at the video store next door. They meet up daily and bitch about the customers or talk about Star Wars or whatever the hell pops into their heads. The film is one day in Dante's life as he gets called in on his day off, and it all goes downhill for him from there. We also meet pop culture stoners Jay and Silent Bob (Mewes and Smith) for the first time, and they would pop up in almost all of Kevin Smith's comedies from then on. What's helped this movie maintain an audience for over twenty-five years is the quotable dialogue and realistic characters. Though Smith's future films would mostly be funny, a lot of them weren't very relatable. But Clerks is special.
Kevin Smith bet everything on Clerks and it paid off. It's still funny, and despite being incredibly 90's, the jokes don't feel dated. And it's not all laughs. The ending is incredibly dark, featuring an unforgettable scene involving accidental necrophilia that you really have to see to fully understand. But this film will always be a benchmark in indie film history. It showed other filmmakers that a film doesn't need a million dollar budget or Hollywood superstars to be good. If you believe in the work, chances are someone else out there will too. But it starts with you.