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Overall Rating
3.14

Awesome: 9.82%
Worth A Look33.93%
Just Average: 33.04%
Pretty Crappy: 7.14%
Sucks: 16.07%

10 reviews, 52 user ratings


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Jersey Girl (2004)
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by Josh Gryniewicz

"Kevin Smith’s “feel good film” notably lacks real emotions"
1 stars

“Jersey Girl” never strays from the “immature – adult – learns– about – growing – up – from – prepubescent – child” formula; it oscillates between cute and cliché often slogging deeply into sentimental melodrama without ever offering a genuine emotional moment.

With the Bennifer debacle fading from the tabloids, both the “Gigli” and engagement varieties, the couple finds themselves in separate ends of the entertainment column (Ben’s heartbreak and his coping methods; Jen’s next tryst and her panty preference) and “Jersey Girl” finds its wedding scene on the cutting room floor. Of the latter, auteur to the masses and ultimate fanboy, Kevin Smith argues that he did not want real events to pull the audience out of the story. The scene wouldn’t have done much damage, as there was not much of a story to be pulled from.

Affleck plays Ollie Trinke, a highly successful PR spin doctor for the music biz whose life falls apart after wife Gertrude Steiney (Jennifer Lopez) dies during child birth. After an on-the-job meltdown, unemployed Ollie with child moves back to his hometown to live with his father Bart (George Carlin). While the arrangement is intended to be temporary, the story picks up seven years later with Ollie working alongside dad at public works and centering his life on daughter Gertie (Raquel Castro). Meanwhile, he pines pathetically for his old life, going on job interviews with former colleagues who have no intention of hiring him; his meltdown has given him “legendary” status among flacks that also serves as the punch line for their jokes. Inevitably, of course, Ollie must choose family over work, but the conflict is so contrived there is no question how events will play out.

In conception “Jersey Girl” had a lot to offer. After literally closing the book on the Jersey Chronicles (actually, Alanis Morissette as God does it for him) with his fan flattering farewell, “Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back”(2001), the biggest budget inside joke ever delivered, Smith was going to leave “dick and fart” jokes behind and focus on fatherhood. “Jersey Girl” had the elements to do so. It could have woven Kevin Smith’s reflective pop-cultural wit and unique perceptions into a narrative of fatherhood that balanced father – son dynamic with father – daughter dynamic in a dramatically comedic way, instead Smith seems self-conscious in his efforts and resorts (poorly) to the genre’s cookie cutter mode. For example, Ollie’s career as a PR music pimp with sidekick Arthur Brickman (Jason Biggs) serving as a personal Jimmy Olson, could have been an ideal forum for Smith’s humor (check out what he has to say about Prince in “An Evening with Kevin Smith” for examples). Instead he drops the ball with cheap quips and no-brainers, playing down these elements, presumably to focus on the “real” story.

Therein lies the core problem. Smith’s films have always been dialogue-driven, infusing pop-cultural reference into daily context. Even when the script delves into Lucas’ “Holy Trilogy” or superhero sex organs it will always come back to life, love and relationships. The authenticity of these dialogues and the emotions they reflect are all the more genuine because of this. “Chasing Amy” (1997) proved that he can maintain the level of sophistication to balance a mature, thought-provoking, socially insightful story line with playful banter. “Dogma”(1999) reinforced this skill blending serious theological arguments with absurdity, but with “Jersey Girl” all of his emphasis on proving this maturity is at the expense of the film.

“About a Boy” (2002), the Nick Hornby adapted film following the same formulaic plot, managed the sophistication Smith had in “Chasing Amy” and “Dogma” without loosing its substance. The only scene in “Jersey Girl” that captures this flavor is an exchange between Ollie and blooming love interest Maya (Liv Tyler) which occurs in a diner after they’ve first met. For a moment that sophistication peeks through as signature Smith – a genuinely romantic connection between the couple established while talking about pornography and masturbation. Only moments later though, its originality is dosed with a variation of the cliché couple – hiding – near – sexual – encounter – from – kid stunt.
Tyler’s engaging performance as the free-spirited grad-school video store clerk is the only refreshing character in the film.

This is not a matter of Kevin Smith selling out so much as shortchanging what he has already accomplished. Throughout the film it appears that he doesn’t trust his voice with an issue of such gravity and resorts to generic scenes rather than letting himself into the work. Its unfortunate as I imagine what he really has to say on fatherhood would be pretty entertaining.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=8912&reviewer=362
originally posted: 04/02/04 15:41:27
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 SXSW Film Festival. For more in the 2004 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

4/09/10 art "JERSEY GIRL""WOW the next"GONE WITH THE WIND" 1 stars
12/31/09 Dane Youssef Unremarkable. Undistiguishable. Unnoticable. Nothing special. No effort is really made here 2 stars
3/23/09 Josie Cotton is a goddess Wow, George Carlin can act 4 stars
8/01/07 gad nice 4 stars
5/13/07 David Pollastrini All the women in this film are hot! 3 stars
1/23/07 del Better than it has any right to be...certainly better than that piece of shit J&SBSTB. 4 stars
9/28/06 Annie I absolutely loved it!!! 5 stars
8/19/05 Carolyn Rathburn Absolutely love this one, a true "love story" for the little Gertie 5 stars
8/12/05 ES In the content that all women who love their fathers will cry watching this= great movie 4 stars
7/12/05 Jake A disappointing effort from Kevin Smith. 3 stars
6/20/05 Chelsea M A very Good movie 5 stars
4/27/05 Ashley G I think it was a pretty good movie 4 stars
1/18/05 Jeff Anderson KEVIN SMITH'S SWEETEST AND BEST WRITTEN FILM! Liv Tyler and Raquel Castro are outstanding!! 5 stars
12/14/04 Tom Benton Smith's worst film and a major disappointment, but all in all not a crap movie. 3 stars
12/06/04 Jason Kaul Much better than this review lets on. Kevin Smith's best work. Lots of heart. 4 stars
12/03/04 Pat F. Bravo to Smith & Co's 2d poignant/innovative peek into middle class Jerseyans of all ages. 4 stars
11/20/04 HL Nothin' Special - Lightly Entertaining.... 3 stars
11/13/04 Bryan Lee difficult to watch 1 stars
10/02/04 Alycen Entertaining - excellent music soundtrack! 4 stars
9/19/04 Elizabeth SAPPY. Prefer Smith with more cynicism but this was for his Dad. 2 stars
9/16/04 Herb Scannel Love K. Smith like no other, but this just wasn't for me. 3 stars
9/12/04 Phil M. Aficionado With Liv, who needs J-Lo? She did a great job. 4-F: "Fun formula film with feeling" 4 stars
8/29/04 Emmy WHAT!! this movie is funny as hell..watch Jay and slient j strike back then!! 4 stars
7/23/04 buddy garrett Ben Affleck fails miserably again 2 stars
7/17/04 legend Awful! Only reason to see this film is that J.Lo dies but Ben should go with her for this. 1 stars
6/16/04 Millie Maelstrom Early death of JLo's char. helps but can't save this sentimental schlock promoted as comedy 2 stars
5/12/04 Me Wheres Jay and Silent Bob when you need em? 2 stars
4/18/04 molly horrible 1 stars
4/14/04 Agent Sands Fuck you all in the face. Jersey Girl was really really cool. 5 stars
4/12/04 Mike V This man CAN'T direct! 2 stars
4/12/04 Michael Hatch I am a big fan of Kevin Smith and i think this is his best movie. 5 stars
4/11/04 Wildcarde1 wasnt amazing but not too bad rent it, never understood the ben Hate 4 stars
4/05/04 Todd Bertuzzi This movie, like Affleck, is a lot better than most people give it credit for. V.Good! 5 stars
4/04/04 Uncle Salty Let me be witty... shit shit shit shit shit 1 stars
4/02/04 Amerigo Vespukey Cute kid? Yup. Next Affleck film: talking dog/baby, or freaky friday-esque body switch.... 1 stars
4/02/04 Death 2 Ben Affleck From Phantoms to Pearl Harbor to Gigli Ben Affleck has ruined one movie after another 1 stars
3/31/04 Charles Bryant A great, grown up feature that, while not perfect, is far smarter than many give it 4 stars
3/30/04 LoudChris Choppy, but heartfelt. Boaring. 2 stars
3/29/04 wampa1 hey kevin, if you have something meaningful stick to chasing amy meaningful, this sucks! 1 stars
3/29/04 empaler one of kevin smiths best 5 stars
3/28/04 AfroFett Average acting in an average movie. eh... 3 stars
3/28/04 Larry The dialogue in this movie was as "crisp" as a wet noodle. IT SUCKS! 1 stars
3/27/04 Marion Verhulst I love the movieM 4 stars
3/27/04 ajay This was like a boring movie with some Kevin Smith-isms rather then a *real* KS movie. 3 stars
3/26/04 Bored to Tears A manipulative suckfest. Looks like an amateur made this crap. 1 stars
3/25/04 Brian meh.... 2 stars
3/24/04 Shelley Shea Affleck gets one more chance. 4 stars
3/24/04 Ben Affleck sucks Now he's being out-acted by a 9 year old. Stop giving this talentless assclown 3 movies/yr 1 stars
3/23/04 Leslie Lato Touches the heart. 5 stars
3/22/04 Carver S. utter crap 1 stars
3/22/04 Brian A wonderful film, plain and simple. 5 stars
3/22/04 Tagaru Lee A movie filled with sweetness and a renewed appreciation of those that you love 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  26-Mar-2004 (PG-13)
  DVD: 05-Apr-2011

UK
  N/A

Australia
  12-Aug-2004


Directed by
  Kevin Smith

Written by
  Kevin Smith

Cast
  Ben Affleck
  Liv Tyler
  George Carlin
  Jason Biggs
  Stephen Root
  Jennifer Lopez



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