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:: Jersey Girl

Writer/Director Kevin Smith has a patchy body of work. Through the course of his career Kevin Smith has made two great films (Clerks and Chasing Amy) one fun romp (the frequently under-rated Mallrats) one incoherent, theologically baffling, but occasionally compelling picture (Dogma), and most recently some terrible Hollywood trash (Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back).

Jersey Girl was intended to be Smith’s first film outside of the Viewaskew universe of his signature stoners Jay and Silent Bob, a move not popular amongst Smith’s fans, but one that looked promising after the mess that was J&SBSB, where Smith appeared very tired with the universe of his own creation. Getting out seemed like a good idea.

In Jersey Girl, Smith regular Ben Affleck plays Ollie Frinke, a top gun publicist in New York, who marries Gertrude (Jennifer Lopez) who then dies in childbirth, leading to Affleck freaking out on the job and getting fired for publicly slamming client Will Smith and a room full of reporters. Ollie and baby Gertrude move back to New Jersey to live with his dad George Carlin, where he eventually discovers the true meaning of life, love, and Liv.

Jersey Girl is not without its charms. There is occasional snappy dialogue - a scene where Affleck is on the phone defending George Michaels reputation “he’s a master pimp - all about the ladies!” is chuckleworthy. There are a few nods to Smith’s past films here and there, and as usual, there are some familiar faces from his previous work. Smith’s recent experience of becoming a father obviously informed the film.

Ultimately though, Jersey Girl isn’t anything remarkable, and doesn’t really ring true. The obvious Smith touches (there is more potty mouth than in the average Hollywood heartwarmer) and the occasional nice moment, such as the funny opening scene which pays homage to Kindergarten Cop, aren’t enough. The early sections of the film with Lopez seem to have been cut back radically, after the Affleck-Lopez vehicle Gigli bombed.

Smith seems to be at his best when his work depicts his own experience of life, as he did brilliantly in Clerks and Chasing Amy. Although there are certain parallels between Affleck’s Frinke and Smith himself, there is not enough for Smith to make it feel real. When it comes right down to it, this is just a generic Hollywood heartwarmer with a few quirky features. Smith has made some great movies about being a twentysomething - but it remains to be seen if his work can move on from there successfully.

DVD Extras

Feature Commentaries
Kevin Smith's Roadside Attractions from the “Tonight Show with Jay Leno”
Ben Affleck and Kevin Smith Interview
Behind the Scenes Special