Judging from its paltry weekend box office numbers, you likely haven’t seen Clerks II yet. Whether you’re a fan of Kevin Smith’s Shakespearean potty humor or not, any true detritus fan should get to their local cineplex and take in the wonders of the flick’s music cues.
While the movie is meant to take place in the present, Smith’s latest opus is firmly planted in a permanent 1995. This shouldn’t have come as a surprise, as Smith has always had excellent taste in soundtracks: The first Clerks had a somewhat legendary soundtrack that featured Alice in Chains and Soul Asylum that reportedly cost more to clear than Smith spent making the film; Mallrats was a parade of alt-rock almost-hits, highlighted by Weezer, Bush, and Belly. And Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back’s musical legacy will forever be “Because I Got High.”
Clerks II’s most notable soundtrack choice is the Jackson Five’s “ABC,” which gives way to an elaborately choreographed dance sequence that reeks of “Hey, Rosario can dance, let’s do it!” But the more important song comes a little while later, during the all-important “people thinking about things” montage towards the end of the second act. All the characters are separated and forced to deal with their internal angst on their own. What song scores their longing? “1979,” by A-D favorites Smashing Pumpkins.
This is an excellent choice, and not just because I’m a huge fan of the overwrought, underrated Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. It’s a great move because it’s one of those songs that relies completely on feel. Look at the lyric sheet — if you can figure it out (and your name isn’t Billy Corgan), then you’re a better student than I. But “1979” is great because you can absolutely graft whatever you want onto it’s scratchy drum loop and haunting keyboard samples. Does a character need to drive off a cliff? Does your plucky football team need to celebrate a victory over their hated rivals? Got an extremely esoteric sex scene? Cue up “1979.” I’m amazed more filmmakers don’t take my advice.
But the real meat hits at the end of the movie, where the closing shot (I won’t spoil it) gives way to the credits, all accompanied by Soul Asylum’s “Misery,” which probably could have been written for the original Clerks, as it’s a sorta-suicide anthem about loving what you hate (or something). Set Clerks in an accountancy office and it could have been titled Frustrated Incorporated.
So raise a glass to Kevin Smith for keeping the spirit of ’95 alive. Dave Pirner is probably grateful. KYLE ANDERSON
Now Watch This:
Smashing Pumpkins – “1979”
Soul Asylum – “Misery”
On the Web: clerks2.com