I watched the movie “Clerks III” last night. The original “Clerks” came out back in 1994 when I was 27 years old. I didn’t see it in the theaters but watched in on video with some friends when it was released that way. I enjoyed it and so did my friends.

“Clerks” is a slice of life movie that is about the everyday life of two guys, Dante and Randall, in their early twenties who work all day at neighboring Quick Stop and video stores. Hight School is just a few years behind them and still looms large in their lives but the future is also coming at them quickly and they are not as prepared for it as they would like to be. At least Dante isn’t. Randal is more of a “Live for the moment” character.

“Clerks” was one of the first, if not the first, movie which was made by and aimed at fans of what we now call geek culture. It made jokes about Star Wars and comic books. It’s hard to believe now in our Marvel movies world but there was a time when such things never got mentioned or referenced in mainstream movies and TV.

When “Clerks” came out it was a breath of fresh air. It was a low budget film made by first time film makers without much experience and a lot of amateurs too but it also captured some film making magic. It was fun and I had fun watching it. A few years ago I rewatched it and still liked it. It really does have something special that it’s hard to put into words.

There was a “Clerks II” back in 2006 and it was a solid movie. It was a slice of life movie about our two main character and how they were now in their mid thirties and floundering. They try to find their way in life and comedy ensues.

“Clerks III” is a movie made twenty eight years later than the first one by a bunch of people who have been working in film for three decades so of course it’s going to be completely different. And it is. But it’s also a film I liked.

This time around in a slice of Dante and Randal’s lives they are about fifty and Randal has a health scare that prompts him to reevaluate his life. As the “Live for the moment” character he never had a lot of ambition or a plan for his life. So he decides to make a movie. A movie about his life. This is where “Clerks III” starts to parallel “Clerks.”

“Clerks II” introduced the character Elias as a younger version of our two main characters and he is back being their sidekick again in this movie. So are Jay and Silent Bob who have also starred in their own movies.

They also bring back just about every small character from the original “Clerks” to make cameos. As they are shown making the movie the actors who played the characters back in 1994 are now shown making that very same movie in 2022. They even had a memorial photo of Lisa Spoonaeur in a beginning scene. She was in the original movie playing Dante’s ex-girlfriend but the actress died back in 2017.

“Clerks III” is a movie that knows it’s a sequel. It’s a movie that knows it’s a sequel to a 28 year old cult classic and wears that on its sleeve. We as an audience can’t help but look back to the original “Clerks” as we watch this one and the characters are also looking back. But they are looking back on their lives.

As we age there is often more looking back on our lives. It’s the same with these fictional characters. When they were in their early 20s life was in front of them. Though their past high school lives informed them in the first movie it was the future that consumed them. Now as the characters are around fifty their past is bigger and their future is smaller. That’s how it is with us in real life too. We tend to reflect on the past as it grows bigger in our lives.

“The Great Gatsby” ends with a famous line, “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” There is a lot of that going on in “Clerks III.” Who the characters are now is defined by who they were. They’ve been friends for thirty plus years and that shaped them. This movie explores that shape.

There is also a famous line from William Faulkner, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” I felt that one too as I watched this movie. Somewhere I was still 27 year old me watching the first “Clerks” for the first time. I felt connected to that. The characters were also very connected to their pasts. Not only were they directly connected by making an “In movie” movie about their pasts but their actions making the movie were informed by their thirty year history together.

“Clerks III” was also about contemplating time and getting older. That was very obvious as we got to see scenes of all the characters when they were younger. The juxtaposition of seeing someone when they are twenty next to seeing them when they are fifty is always a bit startling. It’s nearly impossible to not contemplate time when you see that.

After watching and liking this movie a thought came into my head. What would this movie mean to a twenty year old watching it right now? As a fifty-six year old who saw the first movie when he was twenty-seven this movie has a distinct feeling to me. It’s celebratory of the past and of time passing. There is plenty of nostalgia to it but it is also about the present and even the future. At least that’s what I see. I wonder what a twenty year old would see? Would they see the same thing? I’m not sure but they might.

There is a scene in an episode of Joan Hickson’s “Miss Marple” (They Do It with Mirrors -1991) that is all about nostalgia. It always gets to me. I first saw it in my early twenties and appreciated it. It takes place at the end of the episode after the mystery was solved. Miss Marple (who is an old woman) is visiting some old friends (two other old women). Someone pulls out a projector and shows them a film they took of the three of them in Paris when they were young. They watched the film with tears in their eyes and it always made me tear up too. I appreciated their feeling of nostalgia and contemplating the past. I hope other twenty year olds can appreciate that too.

There wasn’t an end credit scene but there was and end credit voiceover by the writer/director Kevin Smith. Make sure you stay around for that.