Jersey Girl


Rating: PG-13

Ben Affleck as Ollie Trinke
Raquel Castro as Gertie Trinke
Jennifer Lopez as Gretrude Steiney
George Carlin as Bart Trinke
Liv Tyler as Maya
Jason Biggs as Arthur Brickman
Jennifer Schwalback as Susan
Steven Root as Greenie
Mike Starr as Brock
Jason Lee as PR Exec #1
Matt Damon as PR Exec #2

Kevin Smith’s cannonball into the mainstream cinema pool leaves his hardcore fans all wet with this sappy story of a man coming to terms with his life as a father.

In Jersey Girl, Jamie Gertz plays an unsophisticated young wwww…wait a minute. Scratch that… I’ll start over.

In Kevin Smith’s Jersey Girl, Ben Affleck plays a sophisticated, young music publicist at the top of his game. When his perfect life is suddenly tragically upended – leaving him as a single father unqualified for the role – he snaps.

Before long Ollie’s big city life is a memory. Out of a job and out of luck, he reluctantly moves in with his father (Carlin) back home to the New Jersey suburb where he was raised. It is the lowest point in his life. Just ask him.

The years pass and with them Ollie’s plans for his future. Stuck in an unexciting, dead-end job, he sees no way out and no way back to the life he used to love. But he adores his young daughter Gertie (Castro), and she loves their life in the ‘burbs. To her, Jersey is paradise.

While renting Gertie’s favorite movie for the zillionth time one day, Ollie meets Maya (Tyler), who challenges his priorities and perspective. He begins to realize that sometimes you have to forget about who you thought you were, accept who you are and acknowledge what makes you happy.

Jersey Girl is rated PG-13 on appeal for language and sexual content including frank dialogue.

What Worked:
There is a sweetness to Jersey Girl that is undeniable, but it is not able to carry the ‘been there, done that’ load that the film exudes. Newcomer Raquel Castro is quite capable in the role of young Gertie and has some genuinely funny moments, most of which can be seen in the TV advertisements and trailers for the film.

Smith does provide the usual cameos that make audiences smile. The running ‘Will Smith’ gag is bought to a nice ending when the Fresh Prince himself makes an appearance. But even that is reduced to sap, when he ‘inadvertently’ delivers the moral to our story and sends Ollie off down the proper path to fatherhood.

What Didn’t Work:
It is not ‘What didn’t work’ as much as it is ‘Why this film won’t work.’ First, you need to be a big fan of Ben Affleck to enjoy Jersey Girl. This is his movie. He dominates the screen. Not to say his work is bad here, but if you already don’t like the guy – and many do not – then this film is not for you. Add the fact that the former Mrs. Ben is here, albeit briefly, and you stir up all kinds of Gigli references that are best left buried.

Second, this is a Kevin Smith movie… but it probably should not be marketed as such. Over his past six films, the term ‘a Kevin Smith movie’ meant you were in for something very specific – rudeness, sex, drugs and Jay and Silent Bob. In Jersey Girl, there is little rudeness, only off camera sex, no drugs and no Jay and Silent Bob. I expect very few Smith fans with ‘get’ Jersey Girl, but I also expect – given early warning of the film – very few Smith fans to go see the movie.

Lastly, George Carlin in a PG-13 film is never funny.

In the end, Jersey Girl will be resigned to a feel-good date movie at best. I wish I could say more.