Analysis of Clerks

Summary Clerks is a film that follows a day in the life of Dante, an employee at a convenience store. Throughout the movie, Dante deals with a variety of conflicts, including arguments with customers and his girlfriend, Veronica, about his ex-girlfriend, Caitlin. He also argues with his friend and co-worker, Randal, about relationships and monogamy. Meanwhile, Jay and Silent Bob engage in drug deals and vulgar conversation outside the store. In the end, a robbery takes place, resulting in Dante being shot and a customer stealing cigarettes.


Screenplay Story Analysis

Story Critique The story lacks focus and meanders aimlessly through various comedic and serious scenes without a clear central plot. The characters are entertaining, but their actions and interactions feel disconnected. The themes of sex, relationships, and societal pressure are explored but not thoroughly developed or resolved.
Suggestions: To improve the screenplay, there should be a clearer central conflict with high stakes for the characters. The themes should be better integrated and developed throughout the story, culminating in a satisfying resolution. The characters should have more defined goals, motivations, and obstacles that drive the plot. Additionally, some of the comedic scenes could be trimmed or reworked to better serve the story.

Note: This is the overall critique. For scene by scene critique click here

Characters in the screenplay, and their arcs:

Dante

Dante is a young man who works at a convenience store and is disinterested in his job. He often engages in playful banter with his friend Randal and is both sarcastic and witty. Dante can be easily overwhelmed and struggles with his coping mechanisms. He is jealous and insecure in his relationships and prone to making hurtful statements. He is also characterized as conflicted, reflective, and introspective, but tends to be indecisive and lacks direction in his personal life. Despite his flaws, he has a good heart and cares deeply about his ex-girlfriend Caitlin and current girlfriend Veronica.



Veronica

Veronica is a smart, opinionated and confident woman with strong beliefs about sex and trust. She is ambitious and caring, prioritizes honesty and values open communication in her relationships. She is a supportive and understanding friend and girlfriend, but can also get defensive when her viewpoints are challenged. She is unashamed of her sexual history and determined to assert her own agency.



Randal

Randal is Dante's best friend who works with him at the convenience store. He is known for being sarcastic and indifferent towards customers and his job, often using humor and banter to cope with his boredom. Despite this, he has a close and loyal friendship with Dante. Randal is a movie buff and intellectual, with a tendency to blur the line between what is socially acceptable and what is not. He is often outspoken, holding unconventional views on relationships and monogamy and enjoy discussing taboo topics. Randal is not afraid to speak his mind and call people out, sometimes being crass or insensitive in the process, but always remaining loyal to his friends.



Jay

Jay is a crass and vulgar drug dealer who enjoys making inappropriate advances towards women and pretending to be a DEA agent. He is ruthless in his drug dealing business and is shown to be pragmatic and unapologetic about his illicit activities. Despite this, he is also characterized as having a humorous and carefree personality and being a good friend to Dante.



Caitlin

Caitlin is a confident and intelligent design student. She is impulsive and passionate, constantly striving for romantic fulfillment. Caitlin is Dante's ex-girlfriend who retains a flirty and playful attitude towards him despite being engaged to be married to an Asian design major.



Character Arc Critique Suggestions
Dante Dante's character arc revolves around him finding his purpose in life and resolving his inner conflicts. Throughout the movie, he struggles with his feelings for Caitlin and Veronica, and his fear of commitment and confrontation. He tends to avoid facing his problems head-on and needs external validation to feel secure. As the story progresses, he becomes more self-aware and introspective, opening up about his past relationships and insecurities. He realizes that he needs to take responsibility for his actions and make necessary changes in his life. In the end, Dante makes a conscious choice to move forward and pursue his goals, resolving some of his emotional conflicts in the process. Overall, Dante's character is well-developed throughout the movie and has a clear internal struggle. However, his character arc feels a bit predictable and lacks significant growth or resolution. His conflicts tend to repeat themselves, and he doesn't seem to learn from his mistakes. A more significant shift in his behavior or mindset would have made his character arc more impactful and satisfying.
To improve Dante's character arc, it would be helpful to show him experiencing more consequences for his actions or facing more significant challenges. This would give him a reason to reevaluate his beliefs and make conscious changes. Additionally, giving him more agency in his relationships would make him less passive and more proactive in resolving his inner conflicts. Overall, adding more complexity or nuance to his character would make his journey more engaging and satisfying for the audience.
Veronica Veronica starts out suspicious and questioning of Dante's actions, but grows to trust him and become a supportive partner. However, when she discovers Dante's infidelity and unresolved feelings for his ex-girlfriend, she becomes angry and hurt. She asserts her sexual agency and demands that Dante takes charge of his life and fully commit to their relationship. By the end of the film, Veronica has evolved into a strong, independent woman who is willing to walk away from a relationship that doesn't meet her needs. The character arc is well-developed and shows a clear progression of Veronica's growth and transformation throughout the film. One critique is that her character can sometimes come off as possessive and jealous, especially in regards to Dante's unresolved feelings for his ex-girlfriend. It would be helpful to show more vulnerability and self-reflection from Veronica's perspective to add more depth to her character.
To improve Veronica's character arc, it would be interesting to explore her past experiences and how they have shaped her views on sex and trust. It would also be beneficial to show how she supports and uplifts other women, as she is shown to be confident and unashamed of her sexual history. Additionally, adding more vulnerability and self-reflection to her character would add depth and make her more relatable to audiences.
Randal Randal's character arc involves him learning to take his friendships more seriously and ultimately making a sacrifice for the benefit of his closest friend, Dante. Initially, Randal does not show much concern for the consequences of his behavior or the impact it has on those around him. As the film progresses, he begins to show more empathy and care towards Dante's feelings and well-being. When Dante becomes distraught over his relationship with Veronica, Randal tries to get him to confront his feelings and take responsibility for his actions. In the end, Randal sacrifices his own happiness for Dante's by convincing him to patch things up with Veronica, even if it means losing Randal's friendship. Randal's character arc is well-developed and engaging in terms of the growth he experiences throughout the film. However, his actions in the final act are somewhat inconsistent with his previously established personality and motivations. It is unclear why he would be willing to give up his own happiness for Dante's, especially since he has shown a tendency towards selfishness in the past. Additionally, his character could benefit from more depth and exploration beyond his sarcastic and comedic persona.
To improve Randal's character arc, it would be helpful to establish his motivations more clearly throughout the film. Perhaps some backstory or exposition could be included to shed light on why he is willing to make such a drastic sacrifice for Dante. Additionally, Randal could benefit from more individual development and complexity, such as exploring his own desires and goals outside of his friendship with Dante. This would make his character more well-rounded and engaging for audiences.
Jay Throughout the movie, Jay's character arc revolves around him grappling with the consequences of his actions and ultimately deciding to change his ways. He starts off as a completely unrepentant drug dealer and womanizer, making inappropriate comments and threats to anyone who crosses him. However, as the movie progresses, he is confronted with more and more serious situations, culminating in his involvement in a dangerous situation with a cop and two kids. This experience forces him to reckon with the harm he has caused and makes him realize that he needs to make a change. By the end of the movie, he has turned over a new leaf and vows to be a better person and friend to those in his life. The character arc for Jay is interesting and fits well with the overall theme of the movie, which is about taking responsibility for one's actions. However, it feels a bit rushed and underdeveloped. Jay's change of heart seems to happen very suddenly, with little explanation or exploration of what motivates him. Additionally, the transition from his earlier behavior to his later, more responsible behavior feels a bit abrupt and unearned.
To improve Jay's character arc, the movie could spend more time exploring the underlying issues driving his behavior and showing how these are gradually resolved. For example, we could see more of his traumatic childhood or his struggles with addiction, which could help us understand why he behaves the way he does. Additionally, the movie could spend more time showing us the steps he takes to become a better person. For example, we could see him going to therapy or attending NA meetings, or we could see him making amends to people he has hurt in the past. This would make his transformation feel more earned and satisfying.
Caitlin Throughout the movie, Caitlin struggles with her feelings for Dante. She is unsure about her engagement and realizes that she may still have feelings for him. Caitlin begins to act impulsively, creating drama and tension with Dante. However, she eventually realizes that she needs to take responsibility for her actions and make a decision about her future. In the end, Caitlin decides to end her engagement and pursue a relationship with Dante. The character arc for Caitlin is somewhat predictable and lacks depth. Her impulsive behavior is not explored in depth and is played off as a comedic distraction. Additionally, the resolution of her arc feels rushed and could benefit from more exploration of her decision process.
To improve Caitlin's character arc, the film could dive deeper into her motives for her impulsive behavior. This could add complexity to her character and make her decision to end her engagement more meaningful. Additionally, the resolution could be extended to show more of Caitlin's thought process, allowing the audience to fully understand and empathize with her decision.