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Overall Rating

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 Rob Gonsalves

"Kevin Smith's fatherhood flick; perfectly fine."
4 stars

Kevin Smith, the rude auteur behind the Jay & Silent Bob movies (including 'Clerks,' 'Chasing Amy' and 'Dogma'), has finally made a movie that grandmothers can go see. I know, because I saw several of them at the screening I attended.

Longtime fans, though, needn't fear Jersey Girl for its PG-13 rating and its cute-little-girl emphasis. The movie is mature and heartfelt, though not overly saccharine; I enjoyed it far more than I did Chasing Amy, Smith's previous attempt to speak truths about his life through the avatar of Ben Affleck (I realize Amy is some people's favorite Smith film, but it simply rubbed me the wrong way). Here, the story has just enough autobiography and just enough invention, and Smith doesn't feel the need to bury the characters' feelings in excess verbiage.

Affleck is Ollie Trinke, a sharpie ruling the roost at a New York PR firm. He meets and marries Gertrude (Jennifer Lopez, who in her brief appearance reminds you why she appealed to you before the whole J.Lo media assault); they have a daughter, whereupon Gertrude immediately dies. Ollie tries to juggle his job and new fatherhood for a brief time, fobbing the baby off on his gruff dad (George Carlin) whenever possible. After a particularly stressful night at the office, during which he insults both the press and his firm's hot new client, Ollie is ousted; he returns in disgrace to his dad's house, takes a job with him cleaning the streets of Highlands, New Jersey, and determines to be a better father.

Cut to seven years later: Ollie's daughter Gertie (Raquel Castro), whip-smart and precocious, has become the center of his world. Deep down, he still yearns for the monetary chaos of New York, the dazzle and deals, the life. Parenthood does change everything, as Bill Murray so memorably pointed out in Lost in Translation, and there may be a part of Kevin Smith that misses the old days, unfettered by children, in which he could hang out and read comics and make movies. It hasn't been entirely an either-or proposition for Smith, though: he has kept his hand in writing comics as well as making movies (his output may have slowed a little, but he's made two films now since the birth of his daughter). So Ollie's plight is something Smith sees happening to the people around him, I assume.

Complicating matters is an angel in New Jersey, in the form of Liv Tyler as a video-store clerk who openly hungers for Ollie (while, in the best Gen-X fashion, denying that she is). Affleck and Tyler have played lovers before, in the execrable Armageddon, but here, working with a real writer-director, they're charming enough to make you forget that idiotic animal-crackers scene. Like many movie widowers, Ollie is held back by continuing love for his dead wife, but we suspect he's also wary of getting attached to a New Jersey woman when he fully intends to move back to New York, someday. As an important PR job interview opens up, competing with Gertie's school-play performance of a number from Sweeney Todd (only in a Kevin Smith movie), Ollie faces a Hard Choice.

Jersey Girl is good-hearted entertainment that goes down easy. Do I miss the old Kevin Smith -- the one who trafficked in deliriously profane streams of insult and debate? Sure. Without asking for more Jay & Silent Bob, I do hope that Smith has more rascally commentary films like Dogma in his arsenal (he's already advised fans not to expect more family-friendly films where this came from). But as a one-shot essay on the pressures of fatherhood and the bewilderments of new love, it works fine.

Smith restores much of Ben Affleck's credibility as an actor, plucks the Elf ears off Liv Tyler and makes her glow anyway, writes the perfect irascible role for George Carlin, and handles (with the invaluable help of veteran cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond) the movie's weightier emotional moments with no evidence of undue strain. Not a bad way at all to kick off View Askew's second decade.

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originally posted: 01/23/07 14:28:57
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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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