They live life everyday, bored of their seemingly tepid existence. All this is compounded when one clerk, Dante, is bullied into coming in on his day off. This classic 1994 film by director Keven Smith is one of the defining movies of the indie movement, and it's development is amazingly entertaining. He maxed out 8 credit cards by pretending to be his boss, and work night and day to make sure the film got done. Overall he got about one hour of sleep for many night, nearly driving himself insane.
The film has its problems, and its limited budget shines through in numerous instances. The most obvious of this is the fact that it is in black and white, a trend that ended just more than 25 years before this film came out, but the incredibly limited budget made it the only option. The actors are also, not the highlight of the film, the limited budget meant friends and family of Smith's had to come in and 'act', but sometimes the silences are obviously the actors forgetting lines, and some of the reactions seem stilted.
This is also Smith's first real film, and the camera angles and the technical stuff are all obviously amateur. Despite all of this, I still love the film. This is a result of the dialogue, it is so well written that the rest of the movie is excused from its many faults. The movie is funny, it's full of pop culture references that are more than just quotes, and has a loving knowledge of comedy.
It is also a very human film, from the customers who come in just wanting a pack of smokes, to the main characters Dante and Randal who are characterized as normal people, they contrast each other extremely well with Randall openly spitting in the customer's faces, sometimes literally, and Dante bottling up his anger until it bursts at the climax of the film.
This is what makes the writing so impressive, it just seems like a group of friend's talking, because that is what it is. You don't need to make up dialogue when your typical conversations fit the characters, and it adds realism because they are the kind of conversations that go on. It also helps define the target audience and makes it so much more enjoyable by drawing you in. For example the Star Wars conversation in the middle sounds exactly like something we would say, in fact I'm sure I've had a similar discussion in real life.
Clerks is one of my favorite 90s films, I feel it really represents the decade. The Seinfeldian nature was right at its peak, and the conversations are so real, that the faults of the film just fade into the background as the witty dialogue takes the show. I suppose I love the film because if it comes to that I could see me in that position, it's not favorable but it is a distinct possibility, and that makes it real, and a real movie like this is strictly superior to all those with painstakingly written dialogue, that it stands as a gem in a shit.