The film screened out of competition at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival and won the Audience Award at the 2006 Edinburgh International Film Festival before receiving a theatrical release on July 21, 2006 to critical and commercial success, grossing $27 million worldwide from a $5 million budget.
Eleven years after the events of the first film, Dante (Brian O'Halloran) opens the Quick Stop convenience store to find that it is on fire; Randal (Jeff Anderson) had left the coffee pot on after closing the night before. As a result of the destruction of Quick Stop and the adjacent RST Video, Dante and Randal begin working at a Mooby's fast food restaurant along with Elias (Trevor Fehrman) and their manager Becky Scott (Rosario Dawson). A year later, Dante is planning to leave his minimum wage lifestyle in favor of a family life in Florida with his fiancée Emma Bunting (Jennifer Schwalbach), whose father will provide them with a home and a business to run. This leaves Randal, who fears that with Dante moving to Florida would leave him without his best friend, bitterly disappointed. Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith) have since followed Dante and Randal, and now loiter outside of Mooby's. Jay and Silent Bob no longer do drugs after they were arrested for the possession of drugs and were sent to rehab, and become devout Christians following their release. However, the duo continue selling drugs.
Dante eventually confesses to Becky that he is worried about dancing at his wedding, so she takes him up onto the roof of the restaurant to teach him some moves. Dante soon lets go of his inhibitions and learns how to dance. When the song ends, Dante, caught up in the moment, tells Becky he loves her, and she reveals to him that she is pregnant; Dante and Becky had a one night stand on the prep table a few weeks before. Becky tells Dante not to tell anyone about the baby; however Dante tells Randal, and an angered Becky leaves when she learns that Dante told Randal.
Randal encourages Dante to leave Mooby's in search for Becky, and in the meantime, sets up a surprise going away party for Dante. Randal hires "Kinky Kelly and the Sexy Stud," a donkey show with a fog machine. When Dante comes back, he mistakes the fog for a fire and calls the fire department, but upon discovering that it is not a fire, he proceeds to watch the show with Randal, Jay, Silent Bob, and Elias. The group soon discovers that "Kinky Kelly" is, in fact, the donkey, while the man (Zak Knutson), whom Randal thought to be the pimp, is "The Sexy Stud". When Becky returns, Dante confesses his love for her. As they kiss, Emma arrives. She throws her engagement ring at Becky, dumps a cake she'd made for Dante over his head, and angrily walks off.
The fire and police departments soon arrive and discover the show. Dante, Randal, Elias, Jay, Silent Bob, and The Sexy Stud are detained and jailed. Although they are informed they will soon be released, Dante blames Randal for ruining his life and expresses his eagerness to start a new life without Randal, while Randal condemns Dante for his willingness to live his life under the standards of others and for walking out of their friendship. Amid the argument, Randal proposes that they buy the Quick Stop and re-open it, although Dante says that neither have the money to purchase the store. Jay and Silent Bob offer to lend them some money (from the royalties they collected following the events of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back) on the condition that they can hangout outside of the Quick Stop anytime they want without calling the police. Randal accepts their offer, but Dante remains skeptical, prompting Randal to emotionally confess his fear of losing Dante. As a result, Dante agrees to the proposition as well, and after his release, he proposes to Becky, who accepts. After the Quick Stop and RST Video are rebuilt, Elias applies for a job and is hired at RST Video. In the very last scene, with the store open, Dante says, "Can you feel it? Today is the first day of the rest of our lives." The camera slowly zooms out, showing the newly rebuilt store and the scene turns black-and-white, while a woman checks through the milk jugs to find one with the furthest expiration date.
The main characters from the original film are Dante, Randal, and Jay and Silent Bob. Walt Flanagan and Smith's mother, Grace Smith, both make cameos at the end of the film as customers in the new Quick Stop, reprising their roles in the original film. Flanagan is the customer who asks for a pack of cigarettes, while Grace Smith is the one who checks each gallon of milk for the expiration date. Long time View Askew actors Ben Affleck and Jason Lee make cameo appearances as Mooby's customers as does comedian/actress Wanda Sykes.
In 1999, the original title was slated to be Clerks 2: Hardly Clerkin' (cf. Jerry Lewis's Hardly Working), as seen in the credits of Dogma. Smith later modified the title to The Passion of the Clerks, lampooning the title of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. According to the DVD documentary, the title was changed to simply Clerks II, due to negative reaction to the "Passion" title. The film was shot September–November 2005. It was originally scheduled for a 2005 release, and then a January 2006 release, but the production was pushed back due to other projects and Kevin Smith's involvement in the romantic comedy Catch and Release.
Smith released production diaries on the Clerks II website (see links below). They chronicle the entire making of the film from the first rehearsals all the way through to the final release. Some of these web diaries are also available on the two-disc DVD of the film. Smith released a Web-only teaser trailer on the Clerks II website on January 9, 2006, and a web-only trailer on April 2, 2006. Smith also released several shorts featuring action figures from his previous films to promote the film.
Before the release of the film, Smith had mentioned releasing an MP3 file commentary to be downloaded and listened to in movie theaters via iPod. Ultimately, theater owners and exhibitors objected, and the plan was scrapped. The abandoned commentary, featuring Smith, Scott Mosier and Jeff Anderson, is included on the DVD.
The bookend Quick Stop scenes are in black and white (to simulate the original visual style of Clerks), while the rest of the film is in color. Smith has said that much of the film's color was desaturated almost to the point where the film had a similar texture to the first film. The contrast in color saturation used can be seen in the "ABC" sequence in which a more vibrant and saturated color temperature is used to give a warm and sunny look that adds to the playful nature of the piece.
The Mooby's restaurant was a shut-down Burger King at 8572 Stanton Ave in Buena Park, California, (near Knott's Berry Farm), which has since been demolished. The final days of principal photography were filmed at the Quick Stop and R.S.T. Video store in Leonardo, New Jersey, with some exceptions, the most notable being the go-kart scene, which was shot at Speedzone in Industry, California. The opening sequence where Randal and Dante are driving to work is a montage of Route 35, mostly in Middletown, New Jersey.
Brian O'Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Jason Mewes, and Kevin Smith all reprised their roles from the first film.
According to the DVD commentary, Kevin Smith originally wanted to cast his wife Jennifer Schwalbach Smith as Becky. Executive producer Harvey Weinstein objected, however, as he wanted a known actress to play the role, for marketing reasons. Other actresses that Smith had met with were Sarah Silverman and Bryce Dallas Howard, who both declined. Smith recalls having lunch with Howard, who said she was interested in the film but ultimately passed in order to do Lady in the Water. Silverman said she didn't want to play the character Becky as she had been cast as girlfriends in numerous other productions and feared type-casting, but loved the script and would have been more than willing to play the part of Randal. Rachel Weisz was another name the studio considered, but Smith figured she would turn the role down and never offered her the part. Ellen Pompeo expressed an interest but could not commit due to scheduling difficulties with Grey's Anatomy. Finally, the role was offered to Rosario Dawson, who loved the script. She later said that reading the "donkey show" scene sealed the deal for her. Jennifer Schwalbach Smith was given the secondary female role of Emma. Smith also cast his daughter Harley as the little girl Dante waves to in the window and his mother Grace as the Milk Maid, reprising her role from the first film. Walt Flanagan makes a cameo appearance as a customer who asks for a "pack of cigarettes" (after the scheme changes from color to black 'n' white), in a nod to the first film as well.
The character of Elias was played by Trevor Fehrman, who had previously worked with Jeff Anderson in his film, Now You Know. Smith saw him in the film and was impressed enough to give him a part. In keeping with Smith's tradition of casting actors that he has previously worked with, both Jason Lee and Ben Affleck had parts in the film. Lee played Randal's old enemy, Lance Dowds, and Affleck played a random Mooby's customer. After finding no one else who could pull off being the Sexy Stud, Smith turned to crew member Zak Charles Knutson to fill the role.
On Clerks II's MySpace account, a contest was held in which the first 10,000 MySpace users who added Clerks II as a friend would have their name in the theatrical and DVD end credits; The list follows the View Askew and Weinstein Company logos. The names are not present in the credits on the Region 2 DVD.
The film was originally planned to be released without an MPAA film rating, in order to avoid receiving an NC-17. Smith claimed "If we put it in front of the ratings board they'd be like, 'You're insane. We have to create a new rating for that.'" However, he later submitted it, and it received an R rating without any edits.
The film opened in 2,150 theaters and grossed $10,061,132 domestically in its first weekend. The film's theatrical gross was $24,148,068 domestically, plus an additional $2,833,903 foreign, turning a profit on its reported budget of $5 million.
At review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 63% of 160 reviews were positive, and the average rating is 6.1/10. The critical consensus is that the film "dishes up much of the graphic humor and some of the insight that made the 1994 original a cult hit". Metacritic characterised the film's reception as "generally favorable"; the score is 65 out of 100 from 29 reviews.
In a review for The New York Times, A. O. Scott notes the following:
Justin Chang's review at Variety called it a "softer, flabbier and considerably higher-budgeted follow-up to Kevin Smith's 1994 indie sensation that nevertheless packs enough riotous exchanges and pungent sexual obscenities to make its 97 minutes pass by with ease."
At an advance screening for critics, Joel Siegel walked out of the film approximately 40 minutes in, during a scene in which the characters attempt to procure a donkey for sexual purposes. Smith claimed on his website that Siegel "bellowed" the phrase "Time to go. This is the first movie I've walked out on in thirty fucking years." TV Guide film critic Maitland McDonagh, who said she was sitting next to Siegel, largely confirms Smith's account but insists that Siegel did not curse or "bellow." However, she reports that he left from the farthest possible exit, thereby making sure everyone noticed his departure. On his blog, Smith criticized Siegel for unprofessional conduct, in a profanity-laced tirade in which he referred to the critic performing sexual acts on director M. Night Shyamalan in regard to his praise for The Village before having seen it. Smith later confronted Siegel in a live interview on Opie and Anthony; Siegel apologized for cursing and causing a scene, and told Smith that he thinks he is a "fine filmmaker," while still defending his decision to walk out.
British entertainer and film-critic Jonathan Ross has been largely critical of the film, saying he disliked it even more than the first film; he expressed distaste that the film was voted by viewers of his Film 2006 show into the top ten of the year, in which it ranked sixth. It made other Best of 2006 lists, including being named movie of the year by MTV India, being voted the 3rd funniest film of 2006 by IMDb users and the 9th best reviewed comedy by Rotten Tomatoes.
The film received an eight-minute standing ovation at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival.
Music from the Motion Picture Clerks II, the soundtrack to the film, was released on August 22, 2006 by Bulletproof Records. It includes songs from the film, which are of various artists and genres, as well as many soundclips of dialog from the film. One notable exception is that The Smashing Pumpkins' "1979", which was featured in the film, is not included. It has been replaced by All Too Much's "Think Fast", which was not featured in the film.
- Dialogue: "Anne Frank vs. Helen Keller" – 0:27
- "(Nothing But) Flowers" – Talking Heads – 5:33
- Dialogue: "Regret" – 0:28
- "Welcome Home" – King Diamond – 4:36
- Dialogue: "Of Parts Enlarged" – 0:17
- "Neckin' on the Swing" – James L. Venable – 3:49
- Dialogue: "The First of the Fallen" – 0:55
- "The Invisible Guests" – King Diamond – 5:04
- Dialogue: "The Unholiest Act" – 0:52
- "Goodbye Horses" – Q Lazzarus & Garvey – 6:27
- Dialogue: "On Knowing Pickles" – 0:17
- "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head" – B. J. Thomas – 3:02
- Dialogue: "Twelve Step" – 0:20
- "ABC" – The Jackson 5 – 2:58
- Dialogue: "The Perfect Gift" – 0:54
- "Think Fast" – All Too Much – 3:24
- Dialogue: "Party Planning" – 0:31
- "Goin' Away Party" – James L. Venable – 1:44 - This contains segments of the "Clerks" animated series' theme song, also by Venable
- Dialogue: "I'm Gonna Miss You, Man" – 0:39
- "Naughty Girls (Need Love Too)" – Samantha Fox – 3:21
- Dialogue: "Abstinence" – 1:01
- "Everything" – Alanis Morissette – 4:36
- Dialogue: "Semantics" – 0:31
- "Misery" – Soul Asylum – 4:24
- Dialogue: "Battle of the Mega-Geeks" – 0:31
The Clerks II DVD was released on November 28, 2006.
The Hollywood Reporter reported that the film opened to #4 in terms of rental and DVD sales, and made approximately $6 million in rentals, or a quarter of the total box office gross of $24.2 million.
Clerks II was released on HD DVD on January 16, 2007. The release featured the film in 1080p high definition on one disc and the same extras as the DVD, also presented in 1080p, on a second disc. After the conclusion of the high definition optical disc format war in February 2008, Clerks II was released on Blu-ray Disc on February 3, 2009 with two additional special features.
On February 9, 2017, Smith revealed on Facebook that although a script had been completed, Clerks III had been cancelled as "one of the four leads opted out of the flick".