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The Clerks III trailer completes the circle of meta that Kevin Smith started in 1994

It looks dated and retro, but given the self-referential jokes about the franchise’s past, that’s probably the point

Austen Goslin (he/him) is an entertainment editor. He writes about the latest TV shows and movies, and particularly loves all things horror.

It’s been more than 15 years since the last Clerks movie, but now Kevin Smith and friends are back to finish the trilogy. In the first trailer for Clerks III, released on Wednesday, Randal Graves (Jeff Anderson) decides it’s time to make a movie of his own. Clerks III is set to release sometime this fall.

Clerks III will follow the original duo from Smith’s 1994 indie movie Clerks, Randal and Dante (Brian O’Halloran), along with friends Elias (Trevor Fehrman), Jay (Jason Mewes), and Silent Bob (Smith), as they’re drafted into making a movie after a heart attack reminds Randal of his own mortality. That means we’re in for a constant barrage of jokes about movie-making, plus plenty of meta bits about the previous two films in the series, as Randal mines the crew’s convenience-store chats for movie material.

There are callbacks to Clerks’ rooftop hockey game and conversations about the Death Star (which softly implicated Disney as the new Galactic Empire), plus longtime Smith friend Ben Affleck reading for the part of Dante in the movie.

The whole thing already feels a bit like the meta jokes that gripped movies and TV in the mid-2000s via titles like Community and 30 Rock. But Smith and his Clerks series (including the 2000 animated spinoff series, also just called Clerks) were doing that style of humor even before the earlier cycle of meta-comedy and self-reference that kicked off with 1996’s Scream. So it only makes sense that they would continue after the latest wave of meta-jokes passed as well.

Kevin Smith wrote and directed Clerks III, just like the previous movies in the series. Along with the four main characters, the movie will also include Rosario Dawson and Marilyn Ghigliotti, reprising their roles from the previous movies.

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