Filmmaker and famous film school dropout Kevin Smith is the subject of “Clerk,” an affectionate documentary about the life and career (and, eventually, 2018 heart attack) of the comics- and B-movie-obsessed auteur of such proudly lowbrow films as “Clerks,” “Mallrats” and “Tusk.” The film is studded with interviews with many who sing his praises, or at least reminisce about their association with Smith, who comes across as smart, funny and likable: the late Marvel Comics icon Stan Lee; longtime Smith cast member Jason Mewes; Matt Damon; directors Richard Linklater and Jason Reitman (“Ghostbusters: Afterlife”), the latter of whom claims that Smith is one of the reasons he became a director. (“You grew up on the set of ‘Ghostbusters,’” Smith says, expressing bewilderment as to why Reitman would need him to inspire a career in film.) At times, “Clerk” seems a little overly fond of its subject, suggesting that Smith — a vocal proponent of sometimes-spurned corners of pop culture, including horror and other so-called “genre” cinema — was integral in the rise of Marvel to become the Hollywood powerhouse it is today. But Smith himself — also known as an entertaining podcaster and public speaker — makes for an ever-self-deprecating raconteur, and seems to have an assessment of his cultural impact that is more clear-eyed than the film itself presents. One ends up wishing there were more Kevin Smith in “Clerk,” and a little less drooling over the esoteric, undefinable yet recognizable genre that has been become known as “the Kevin Smith movie.” Unrated. Available on demand. Contains crude and sexual language and a rude gesture.
116 minutes.

— Michael O'Sullivan

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