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Awesome: 9.73%
Worth A Look33.63%
Pretty Bad: 7.08%
Total Crap: 15.93%

10 reviews, 53 user ratings

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Jersey Girl (2004)
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by Erik Childress

"Jami Gertz Free. Kinda Kevin Smith Free Too"
3 stars

You can occasionally appreciate a filmmaker throwing out a love letter to his family. It’s sweet and nice and if you have the means to actually make a movie, one helluva Anniversary present. Kevin Smith up until now has been saving those love letters for his fans. One great DVD package after another pops up after his latest comic opus and his harsher critics will probably revel in labeling how far he’s “grown up” with Jersey Girl. Let’s remember though that this is the guy who made Chasing Amy, one of the more grown-up, intelligent romances to come along in years. So it’s bewildering to see his latest, which arrives in such a generic package that it feels like just the kind of Affleck film that Smith would mock on his comic-con tours.

How many times have you seen the following story? Successful yuppie sits on top of the world, suffers personal tragedy, loses job, gains a family, wants job back and finally chooses family? Occasionally there’s a fantasy element that intervenes to show the character how Capraesque his life can be. This film just kills J-Lo. (A moment for silent applause.)

Jersey Girl has Ollie Trinke (Ben Affleck), the big-time New York entertainment publicist who devotes all his hours to his job. He falls in love with fellow PR rep, Gertrude (Jennifer Lopez) and soon enough they’re married and she’s pregnant. Ollie shows no sign of unhappiness at the prospect, but when the science of childbirth backfires he is left without a wife. But he’s gained a daughter, which he names Gertie after his mother (or after a certain E.T. character in Smith’s world.)

Ollie has nowhere to turn but his father (George Carlin), labeled an alcoholic but never seen any less than the most sober feeling person in the room. Dad wants Ollie to live up to his newfound responsibility and his growing frustration leads him to denounce Will Smith at a press conference on the eve of a little film called Independence Day. Ollie now has plenty of time on his hand to get to know his daughter.

Flashforward seven years later and Ollie has grown into the best dad in the world; if not the happiness. He dotes on Gertie (Raquel Castro) every chance he gets but hungers to get back into the game rather than working the public works with his father. Even video store clerk, Maya (Liv Tyler), recognizes he needs to get a little action leading to the film’s best callback joke after they try to keep their lustful instincts from Gertie. (A joke that has since been ruined by the film's ads.)

Up to this point, Jersey Girl has coasted on an undeniable charm mostly by the chemistry of the actors. Affleck acquits himself nicely, Tyler is incredibly charming and Carlin is dramatically solid even though it’s hard to separate the Carlin from Carlin. All of them are held together by young Raquel Castro, whose confidence in her performance reminded me of Miranda Cosgrove who played the smarty-pants in last year’s School of Rock.

But there’s not much else going for Jersey Girl, which is both surprising and possibly unfair to say coming from Smith. The staple of all of his films has been the wit of his dialogue. Anyone who has heard Smith himself talk knows that everything is fair game and there’s no need for a B.S. detector. Jersey Girl is not the Smith we know and love though.

There’s no reason he shouldn’t make a film like this. It’s just his fans, like me, would probably expect something heftier in the conversations. Maybe this is real-life without the ironic detachment as Smith sees it, but nothing measures up as real and moving as Affleck’s lovelorn plea in Chasing Amy nor as insightful as his annotations about relationships in Clerks. Jersey Girl is more like the secondhand friends who keep asking you when you’re going to come over and finally see the baby.

What we’ll hear about Smith’s attempt with Jersey Girl ironically will be the same misguided comments people attributed to Tim Burton’s Big Fish. Both are stories about fathers and their children and both will be brushed with the label of a “more matured work.” Mallrats and Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back may have been all-out entertaining goof fests, but the same guy wrote Clerks, Chasing Amy and the thoroughly intellectual Dogma (even with poop monsters.) So if Jersey Girl is branded as such, then people clearly haven’t been paying attention, because this is white-and-black label stuff on a resume full of brand names. I will speak from the heart though and say that the final shot of the film is actually quite beautiful and moving. It's a shame that it will be about the only thing I remember about the film a week later.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 03/26/04 16:58:12
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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

6/22/18 Suzanne The little girl was darling. 3 stars
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 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
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  26-Mar-2004 (PG-13)
  DVD: 05-Apr-2011



Directed by
  Kevin Smith

Written by
  Kevin Smith

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

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