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Overall Rating
3.14

Awesome: 9.82%
Worth A Look33.93%
Average: 33.04%
Pretty Bad: 7.14%
Total Crap: 16.07%

10 reviews, 52 user ratings


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Jersey Girl (2004)
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by Scott Weinberg

"I've always wondered what would happen if you mixed Schamltz and Sincerity!"
4 stars

'Jersey Girl' is sweet and sunny and it features more than one example of 'character development via musical montage'. It's intentionally emotional and ocassionally syrupy, and it's even a little bit corny in Act III. These are all components that I'd generally sneer at while dismissing a movie as push-button pap. But such is not the case this time around; partially because it's great to see a warmer side of the generally acidic Kevin Smith...but mainly because there's a huge streak of sincerity hidden beneath 'Jersey Girl's cuddly disposition.

In what might sound a whole lot like NBC's Movie of the Week, we have a self-centered public relations wiz who loses his pretty young wife as she gives birth to their daughter. Shaken to his core with grief, he initially resents his newborn yet slowly (and with the help of his wise-cracking Pop!) learns what it means to be a father...

Essentially, Jersey Girl is a somewhat weepy, often witty and generally comfortable little movie. Had it come from just about any other filmmaker, one could easily dismiss it as Cute...Watchable...Forgettable. But as it comes from a guy who spent his last five films working with raunch humor, broad silliness and fan-intensive in-jokes, Jersey Girl represents a true departure. It's what happens when the frat-boy is forced to turn off the Xbox and go to his first Lamaze class.

If it's true that you can tell a lot about a filmmaker as you watch his films progress, then it should be obvious to anyone that Mr. Smith, that consistently irreverent and perpetually profane filmmaker, has recently become a Daddy. You could run any two Jersey Girl scenes at random, and it's overtly evident that Kevin Smith is trying something a little more...soccer-mommish.

And hey, if the guy can pull the movie off while still being shadowed by the omnipresent stink of Gigli... one's tempted to give the guy a tip of the hat simply for not having a nervous breakdown, and then applaud the extra effort that must come when a "niche" filmmaker tries to deviate from formula. Regarding the whole Jen-Ben thing? Hardly an issue. Jen's in the movie for maybe all of eight minutes, and (shock of all shocks) the gal contributes a poignant dose of chemistry alongside her then-fiancee Ben Affleck. Look, I'm one of those guys who doesn't care if he ever hears the term "J. Lo" ever again, but I'm not gonna lie either. Lopez, in what basically amounts to a glorified cameo, is actually pretty good here.

Affleck too! This is a guy who's taken a lot of flak in the press, be it pre-, during, or post-Jen. Maybe you just had to be introduced to Ben Affleck by way of his DVD commentaries to appreciate what a goofy and self-deprecating guy he is, but I suppose it's easier just to paint a bullseye onto whatever young actor is currently poised to be the next big movie star. At his best, Affleck can be a darn fine actor; it's just that most of his movies don't exactly command his 'best'. And as a young widower, reluctant father, spoiled PR exec, unfeeling son... Affleck does some of his best work here. There's a little bit of Nice Guy in his Selfish Jerk scenes, and the character's eventual evolution is effective because Affleck works his Everyman genes to impressive effect.

Since most of the movie consists of Ben Affleck with a little girl, it's fortunate that young Raquel Castro strikes a sweet chord and avoids most of the too-cuteness you often see in movies where movie stars play opposite adorably flawless children. Plus, as has been mentioned repeatedly, the affable little actress has a resemblance to Ms. Lopez that is pretty darn bizarre.

As is often the case in Kevin Smith's flicks, the supporting cast is where you'll find some buried treasure. Lovely Liv Tyler loses the elf ears and delivers a disarmingly kooky turn as Benny's potential new love interest; pie aficionado Jason Biggs recovers from working with Woody Allen to offer a few great little moments with Affleck; and George Carlin is solid gold. Smith wisely allows Carlin the opportunity to spit out a few choice vulgarities, but the comedian seizes this opportunity for a little dramatic free-range, and it doesn't surprise me one bit to announce that he nails the thing. The guy's no Olivier, but here he's asked to be rascally, exasperated, devoted and loving - and the hilarious old grouch basically steals scenes whole.

Let's say that after 10 years of delicious meatloaf, your girlfriend suddenly switched over to tuna casserole, just because she wanted to try something new. Surely you'd appreciate that. Then you taste the new tuna casserole and -hey- it's actually pretty good, too! So in this ridiculous analogy, the fantastic Chasing Amy is meatloaf, Jersey Girl has tuna fish in it, and Kevin Smith...is...my girlfriend? Wait. That's not right...

Anyway, here's the bottom line: Jersey Girl is sweeter and warmer and more personal than anything Smith's ever done before...and I think the very ACT of trying something new brought out something surprising. 'Jersey Girl' certainly may not be his funniest movie ever (though it does deliver the laughs), but at least Smith can now say he's done something beyond his beloved Dick & Fart Jokes. Big points due for the effort; well-earned extra credit for the movie itself.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=8912&reviewer=128
originally posted: 03/22/04 22:25:32
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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

4/10/10 art "JERSEY GIRL""WOW the next"GONE WITH THE WIND" 1 stars
1/01/10 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
8/02/07 gad nice 4 stars
5/14/07 David Pollastrini All the women in this film are hot! 3 stars
1/24/07 del Better than it has any right to be...certainly better than that piece of shit J&SBSTB. 4 stars
9/29/06 Annie I absolutely loved it!!! 5 stars
8/20/05 Carolyn Rathburn Absolutely love this one, a true "love story" for the little Gertie 5 stars
8/13/05 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
6/21/05 Chelsea M A very Good movie 5 stars
4/28/05 Ashley G I think it was a pretty good movie 4 stars
1/19/05 Jeff Anderson KEVIN SMITH'S SWEETEST AND BEST WRITTEN FILM! Liv Tyler and Raquel Castro are outstanding!! 5 stars
12/15/04 Tom Benton Smith's worst film and a major disappointment, but all in all not a crap movie. 3 stars
12/07/04 Jason Kaul Much better than this review lets on. Kevin Smith's best work. Lots of heart. 4 stars
12/04/04 Pat F. Bravo to Smith & Co's 2d poignant/innovative peek into middle class Jerseyans of all ages. 4 stars
11/21/04 HL Nothin' Special - Lightly Entertaining.... 3 stars
11/14/04 Bryan Lee difficult to watch 1 stars
10/03/04 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
9/17/04 Herb Scannel Love K. Smith like no other, but this just wasn't for me. 3 stars
9/13/04 Phil M. Aficionado With Liv, who needs J-Lo? She did a great job. 4-F: "Fun formula film with feeling" 4 stars
8/30/04 Emmy WHAT!! this movie is funny as hell..watch Jay and slient j strike back then!! 4 stars
7/24/04 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
5/13/04 Me Wheres Jay and Silent Bob when you need em? 2 stars
4/19/04 molly horrible 1 stars
4/15/04 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
4/05/04 Uncle Salty Let me be witty... shit shit shit shit shit 1 stars
4/03/04 Amerigo Vespukey Cute kid? Yup. Next Affleck film: talking dog/baby, or freaky friday-esque body switch.... 1 stars
4/03/04 Death 2 Ben Affleck From Phantoms to Pearl Harbor to Gigli Ben Affleck has ruined one movie after another 1 stars
4/01/04 Charles Bryant A great, grown up feature that, while not perfect, is far smarter than many give it 4 stars
3/31/04 LoudChris Choppy, but heartfelt. Boaring. 2 stars
3/30/04 wampa1 hey kevin, if you have something meaningful stick to chasing amy meaningful, this sucks! 1 stars
3/30/04 empaler one of kevin smiths best 5 stars
3/29/04 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
3/28/04 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
3/27/04 Bored to Tears A manipulative suckfest. Looks like an amateur made this crap. 1 stars
3/26/04 Brian meh.... 2 stars
3/25/04 Shelley Shea Affleck gets one more chance. 4 stars
3/25/04 Ben Affleck sucks Now he's being out-acted by a 9 year old. Stop giving this talentless assclown 3 movies/yr 1 stars
3/24/04 Leslie Lato Touches the heart. 5 stars
3/23/04 Carver S. utter crap 1 stars
3/23/04 Brian A wonderful film, plain and simple. 5 stars
3/23/04 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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