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‘Clerks II’ and Kevin Smith in Austin

'Clerks II' and Kevin Smith in Austin

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On Thursday night, the Austin Film Society hosted the local premiere of Clerks II with writer/director Kevin Smith in attendance. I originally caught the film (which opens July 21) at Cannes, but this was a very different experience. While the Cannes screening was a lot of fun, the Austin screening easily topped it. The packed house at the Paramount seemed to embrace the film even more than the 200+ college students I saw it with in France.

The movie is truly hilarious but also very accomplished when you realize the growth Smith has made as a storyteller. On the second viewing, I was stunned by how tightly wound it is as a piece of narrative. Once things get rolling, scene after scene works and feels fairly calculated in the best/funniest way. And for people like me who were shocked into hysterics by what Smith’s imagination cooked up with the first Clerks, he reinvents the dirty wheel this time around. Two words: “Pillow pants.” Okay, two more: “Donkey show.” After the film, the capacity crowd stuck around for one of Kevin Smith’s classic Q&A sessions. It was a Q&A that lasted about as long as the film itself, full of its own highlights.

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Smith’s Q&A went on for about two hours, and he gave away all kinds of merchandise to lucky audience members. Among the funny anecdotes he shared over 120 minutes:

– Instead of trailers and production offices, the crew set up shop in a Days Inn nextdoor to the film’s burger joint location.

– Jason (“Jay”) Mewes was so enamored with his Days Inn room, he didn’t wanna leave after production, until he learned the nightly rate was an outrageous $30.

– Matt Damon was the one celebrity offered a cameo who was unable to make it to the California set. Ben Affleck and Jason Lee are featured in the film, though.

– Smith thought Superman Returns was impressive, but did note two key observations: 1. Superman oddly flies in a Jesus Christ pose, 2. He wishes the “Man of Steel” would’ve punched more stuff.

– He had a funny and tender moment in the Q&A, when an audience member in a wheelchair jokingly took him to task for a series of jokes in the film about a fictional, wheelchair-bound blogger:

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(photo FX help by Jarod)

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