Kevin Smith was once just a kid from New Jersey that had a burning passion for movies. That didn’t change after he dropped out of film school, came back home, and worked in a convenience store. One day, Smith decided to take a gamble and max out all of his credit cards to make a movie about his life with the help of his friends and the same store he worked in.
Clerks is a movie about a store clerk named Dante that is dissatisfied with the current state of his life but too afraid to do anything about it. His partner in malaise is Randal, another clerk who “works” at the video store even though he spends most of his time bullsh*tting with Dante.
You can definitely tell that the day-in-the-life cult classic is a writer’s movie. There are plenty of inside details about clerk life, and crude yet charming comedy found throughout that relies on the heavy use of dialogue and long one-shot takes. So here’s a list of some of the best lines from Clerks on this, Kevin Smith’s birthday.
“I’m not even supposed to be here today!” – Dante Hicks
Clerks starts out with Dante answering the phone early one morning and getting talked into covering a coworker’s shift. As his day grows more complicated and frustrating, he doesn’t hesitate to let anyone willing to listen – and some that weren’t – know his plight.
“I bet you 20 bucks you don’t get to rent that tape.” – Randal Graves
The focus of Clerks may be on Dante, but the character that people fell in love with first is probably his best friend Randal, who we learn a lot about in this first scene. He’s care free and clever, but only shows it when he wants to. After being late to work, the first thing he does is trick a customer out of $20.
“My friend here’s trying to convince me that any independent contractors who were working on the uncompleted Death Star were innocent victims when it was destroyed by the Rebels.” – Dante
Who shot first? What order do you watch them in? Did we really need to see pod racing? These are just some of the many debates that Star Wars fans tussle about But one you may not have thought of took place between Dante and Randal as they argued about whether the builders of the second Death Star were innocent bystanders or accomplices that knew what they were getting into.
“This job would be great if it wasn’t for the f*cking customers.” – Randal
If you believe that there’s no such thing as a stupid question, you’ve probably never worked in customer service. If you have, you’ve probably come to the same conclusion as everyone else: customers suck. Not all of them, of course, but enough to make you cringe when you look at a cash register.
“I’m 37?!?!” – Dante
Couples choose different times to have the “How many?” conversation. Some even decide to do away with it altogether. If you watched the argument that happened when Dante found out his girlfriend… er, “satisfied” 37 guys, including him, you might think twice about it yourself.
Note: Willam Black (a.k.a. Snowball) is played by Scott Mosier, a long-time friend of Kevin Smith who’s produced a lot of his films, including this one.
[Insert long list of NSFW porn titles that would take way too long to edit and sanitize for mass consumption] – Randal
Back in the days when you actually had to go to a store to rent a movie, there wasn’t an infinite supply of titles accessible at the click of a button. So if the store ran out of one you wanted, you either had to wait for someone to return it or hope the store ordered more copies. In this scene, Randall establishes just how indecent Clerks could be as he rattles off a list of porn titles ranging from Put It Where It Doesn’t Belong to Men Alone 2: The K-Y Connection while a mother and her kid stand right in front of him listening to every word.
“Oh. Hey, Caitlin, break his heart again this time, and I’ll kill ya. Nothing personal.” – Randal
This is something that every best friend should say when placed in this position. Well, maybe not as extreme, but good friends are supposed to be protective.
“I feel good today, Silent Bob, we’re gonna make some money, then you know what we’re going to do? We’re gonna go to that party, we’re gonna get some p*ssy, and I’m gonna f*ck this b*tch, I’ll f*ck this b*tch, I’LL F*CK ANYTHING THAT MOVES!” – Jay
Hands down, the most consistently memorable characters from any Kevin Smith movie would have to be Jay and Silent Bob, a pair of drug dealing degenerates that occasionally offer gems of wisdom. Smith cast himself as Silent Bob and his good friend Jason Mewes as Jay. Clerks was their first ever appearance. And yes, Jay will f*ck anything that moves, even his cousin.
“Two reasons. One, I hate it when people can’t shut up about the stupid tabloid headlines. And two, to prove a point. Title does not dictate behavior.” – Randal
If you hadn’t already figured it out, Randal has a brilliant philosophical mind and chooses to spend his days watching humanity from behind a counter with a magazine in his hand. He only chooses to let the world know how smart he is when he sees fit, like when he made a point about a person’s title dictating their behavior. This is the big catharsis moment.
“How did you get here so fast?” – Caitlin
Put together a horny old man, a bathroom with no lights, and a young woman looking to move past an impulsive break-up. What do you get? Some grade-A necrophilia. At least in the View Askewniverse. That’s what happened when Caitlin, Dante’s ex-girlfriend, went to the back and mistakenly had sex with a dead old man.
“I assure you, we’re open.”
After the local savages put gum in the locks, Dante had to hang a sign in front of the store that said “I assure you, we’re open.” Signs imitating this Kevin Smith original have been seen throughout the country ever since. The funny thing about this is that this was just a smart move by Smith to explain why the store was always dark because he had to mostly shoot at night.
“He broke his neck trying to suck his own d*ck!” – Randal
The human body just isn’t meant to bend that way.
Randal’s entire monologue
Only your best friends can be brutally honest with you and let you know when it’s time to get your head out of your ass. That’s exactly what Randal did when Dante tried to blame him for all of his problems in this classic scene.
“You know, there’s a million fine looking women in the world, dude. But they don’t all bring you lasagna at work. Most of ’em just cheat on you.” – Silent Bob
You couldn’t seriously expect Kevin Smith to stay quiet throughout his entire movie. The writer/director saved one of the biggest moments of the film for himself as Bob breaks his silence and drops some knowledge on Dante.