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They Still Don't Like You 

Don't ask Jeff Anderson, who plays Randal Graves in Clerks and its sequel Clerks II, about Star Wars. Unlike the backward-baseball-cap-wearing Jedi fan and all-around smartass he plays in the movies, Anderson can't tell you the difference between Tatooine and Dagobah. "I get more Star Wars questions than George Lucas," he says. "Fans are always disappointed with my lack of knowledge on the trilogy."

Clerks II (which opens today) begins just like the original indie smash from 1994 -- with a black-and-white shot of the mini-mart manned by Randal and best pal Dante Hicks, played by Brian O'Halloran. Then the scene turns to color as the store burns in flames. Randal and Dante land new jobs at a fast-food franchise, and once again they're behind the counter, abusing each other and their customers. "It wasn't exactly a movie that was screaming for a sequel," says Anderson. Still, director Kevin Smith felt he "had a story to tell about these guys 10 years later," adds O'Halloran.

In addition to Smith's familiar themes (there's a heated battle between Star Wars and Lord of the Rings geeks), Clerks II adds a new element to the mix. Sin City's Rosario Dawson plays the manager of the burger joint, who also happened to have a one-night stand with Dante. "That's just like real life," deadpans O'Halloran. "I get all the ladies."

The film's bigger budget ($5 million, compared to the original's $28,000) gave the cast a little more breathing space and room to improvise. But it doesn't strip out the DIY aesthetic, which launched an indie revolution at film schools around the country. And Clerks II is filled with plenty of familiar faces, including cameos by Ben Affleck and Jason Lee. Says Anderson: "Really, things haven't changed all that much."
Fri., July 21

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