Double Feature: Two sequels you didn’t ask for, one you should watch anyway


Graphic by Maliah White

“Clerks III” and “Confess, Fletch” are lesser-known sequels to old classic comedies. Both films released in September with little advertising.

Ian Lloyd, Staff Writer

For the last decade, audiences have been more inclined to travel to the theater for reboots and sequels of what they love rather than new experiences. Reboots and legacy sequels have been made out of countless films from the ‘80s and ‘90s, but after so many years that well has started to dry up. With adaptations already made from the biggest blockbusters from that era, studios have started to look for more obscure franchises to bring back from the grave. Late 20th-century nostalgia is back once again, in a form no one was asking for.

Except me.

“Clerks III” and “Confess, Fletch” are both third installments to cult classic franchises that are mainly preserved by the avid fans more than the mainstream consciousness. The average person will know classics such as “The Breakfast Club,” “Back to the Future,” “Forrest Gump” and “Pulp Fiction,” are just as popular now as when they were released. However, “Clerks” and “Fletch” stayed in the era they were created. 

“Fletch” was a comedy specifically tailored for actor Chevy Chase, best known for the “National Lampoon’s Vacation” films, in the prime of ’80s comedies. “Clerks” was the perfect depiction of the aimless feelings many young adults had in the early ‘90s. These films don’t excel in what they do, but there is a charming aspect to both that reflects what was popular in the comedy space at the time. 

In September, the newest films in these small franchises were released in theaters with little fanfare or marketing from the distributors. “Confess, Fletch” dropped quietly, with little conversation about the series return. “Clerks III” brought in the original fans who stuck with director Kevin Smith’s movies.

“Clerks III” returns to the Quick Stop convenience store one last time, now 30 years after Dante Hicks (Brian O’Halloran) and Randal Graves (Jeff Anderson) started working there as young adults. After surviving a massive heart attack, Randal decides to make a movie about his life. The duo of clerks and their friends set out to make the film, which is a re-creation of the original film, and deal with the conflicts of aging and friendship.

“Clerks III” returns to the Quick Stop convenience store 30 years later where characters continue to make the same jokes and mistakes as before. (Photo courtesy of View Askew Productions)

Smith has returned once again to the “Clerks” series, where he started his filmmaking career. Smith began making films with his friends influenced by movies they liked involving immature discussions of sex and, of course, weed. After trying to break away from “stoner movies,” Smith didn’t find much success making more serious films and went back to his roots with “Clerks II.” He continued to make underperforming films that were tailored to the people who loved his work rather than the general public. “Clerks III” continues this trend.

While there are some great comedic moments, and it’s fun to see these characters for one last time, “Clerks III” is a disappointment. It focuses heavily on nostalgia from the first two films while hardly bringing anything new to the table. The “Clerks” films have always been about people who can’t move on with their lives for fear of change or because they are simply content being adequate. It’s fitting the film itself is also content with not pushing these characters far enough for interesting narrative conclusions.

“Clerks III” is fun for people who already loved “Clerks” or grew up with it, but it holds little value for any newcomers. It would rather talk about the original film than try to become something new. It leaves the audience with an emptiness, a feeling of regret that we are leaving the characters without actually gaining anything of value from their story. Just a lot of whining about how their lives have sucked for 30 years. 

On the other hand, there’s “Confess, Fletch.” 

“Confess, Fletch” is an adaptation of the second “Fletch” novel by Gregory Mcdonald, and a reboot of sorts from the original films starring Chevy Chase. In this film, Irwin M. Fletcher (Jon Hamm) arrives at his rental apartment while investigating a stolen art case, only to find a dead woman inside. He becomes the main suspect in the murder and tries to solve the two mysteries at once to clear his name.

Fletch and his old news editor, Frank (John Slattery), discuss possible suspects in an ongoing murder case. (Photo courtesy of Miramax)

Where “Clerks III” tried for easy laughs that referenced its older films, “Confess, Fletch” is effortlessly funny even without the context of the original. Hamm slides into this role with ease and embodies the sarcastic Fletch. Hamm has a better grasp on the character than Chevy ever did. 

Despite the film being centrally about a mystery, this is a comedy first and foremost. Hamm’s Fletch is incredibly funny, with an endless amount of charm as he delivers quips and one-liners to the other characters. He is a classic jerk, but he is still a loveable character that the audience can’t help but root for. 

The other cast members that round out this movie were all extremely fun to watch. Everyone has time to shine without scenes becoming all about Fletch. The best part of these films is the character dynamics and interactions, more than the mystery itself. It’s still fun to see the plot unfold, but the performances are what shine the brightest.

There hasn’t been a “Fletch” film for 30 years, and this return was incredible. It somehow understood the character more than any of the other films, and it is a brilliant jumping-on point for new viewers. Where “Clerks III” is comfortable with not evolving and continuing to make the same mistakes as the previous films, “Confess, Fletch” modernized a forgotten character and did something new in this age of dwindling film comedies.

It feels like with each passing year, big studio comedies become less frequent. It was so refreshing to laugh this hard in a theater for the first time in years. If you want a classic comedy with some hilarious antics and characters, then I cannot recommend “Confess, Fletch” enough. Check out “Clerks III” if your heart desires, but it does not get an endorsement from me. “Confess, Fletch” earns a solid eight out of 10, while “Clerks III” scrapes by with a mediocre five out of 10.