Jersey Girl


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Jersey Girl
The Masked Reviewer

B-Fleck is back!  And this time, it's personal...

Kevin Smith is also back, as the writer/director.  He's decided to go out on a limb a bit by doing a movie that's about family and love and the things that are important in life, rather than another Jay and Silent Bob movie (although to some, Jay and Silent Bob are what's important in life).

The movie has been sitting around on a shelf for a while, largely due to B-Fleck's recent performance at the box office.  Pearl Harbor, Paycheck, know...Gigli...none of them were exactly red-hot blockbusters.  The other reason the film was put on hold was because J-Lo is also in Jersey Girl.  Before Gigli came out, the studios were undoubtedly planning to bill the film as "BEN AFFLECK AND JENNIFER LOPEZ in Jersey Girl."   Gigli performed so  badly in theaters that Jennifer Lopez's name and image appear on none of the advertising for Jersey Girl now...not in clips, not in trailers...they don't want any association to be made with that film (and rightfully so).

As a matter of fact, though she is in the film, her role is fairly small and only in the beginning.  And, come to think of it, there are a lot more similarities between Gigli and Kevin Smith's film Chasing Amy (both feature B-Fleck pursuing a lesbian, making him the king of men pursuing lesbians in movies).  Of course, Chasing Amy was good -- but then again, compared to Gigli...what isn't?

But this review isn't about trashing Gigli.  It's about Jersey Girl.  Fans of Kevin Smith might be thrown for a loop.  It doesn't feature the cleverness of Clerks or Chasing Amy.  It doesn't feature the wackiness of Mallrats, Dogma, or Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.  The film does have a few funny lines, but it's that cute kind of humor rather than the laugh so hard you fall out of your seat kind of humor.   Jersey Girl is all about feelings and family and touchy-feely stuff.  It won't be what a lot of Kevin Smith fans have come to expect.

That's not to say it's bad, however.  In fact, Jersey Girl is a fine film...the emotional stuff is touching without being sappy, and it's a nice story. 

Liv Tyler and George Carlin are the main supporting cast, and they're both good.  Carlin plays Ben Affleck's crotchety father, and he's very dad-like.  Liv Tyler is a video rental store clerk and she exudes cuteness, though her role isn't terribly well developed nor a major focus of the movie.  It's all about Ben Affleck, and his character's daughter, played by Raquel Castro.  She does a great job, and is one of the better child actors out there.  At least, she was when the movie was filmed.  They've held it for so long that she's probably over the hill for the kiddie parts by now, but she's good and aptly carries her half of the movie.

So, here's the thing.  Actually, the main thing is getting over any expectations you might have about a Kevin Smith film.  If you go in expecting a tug-at-your-heart feel good movie that isn't a dorky comedy or a clever comedy, you'll be fine.  Here's the other thing...

The movie has Ben Affleck playing a dad.  While he's good, for the most part, there are times when he just isn't convincing at all as a father on screen.  He often refers to his daughter as "young lady", and it doesn't sound fatherly at all.  It doesn't fit.  It takes you out of it.  But the weirder thing that may disturb some people is that they show some things that aren't a big deal...a naked baby, Ben Affleck and his on-screen daughter sharing a bathroom with her sitting on a toilet.  In real life, that's fine, they're kids, there's nothing creepy about it.  Perhaps it was because the Masked Reviewer didn't find Ben Affleck entirely convincing as a father all the time, but for whatever reason you might find yourself thinking from time to time that certain scenes are inappropriate or disturbing.  "Oh look, there's Ben Affleck, pretending to shave while a 7-year-old-girl is sitting on a toilet."  Again, nothing bad happens, but it may strike you as ... odd.

Then again, it may strike some of you as extremely hot.  If it does, you should get help, you sick, sick person.  That's just wrong.

In any event, it's worth checking out if you want a nice little touching movie about family and priorities and that sort of stuff.


Expectation from the Title: After a magical accident at a sporting goods store, Jessica is transformed into a shirt with her most-hated hockey team's logo on it.  Can she turn back to human form?  Will the man who wears her spill mustard on her?

Mother's Rule (Always Say Something Good About Everything):  The little girl is just darling.

The Pros: A sweet story, the acting is fine, it's moving without being mushy.

The Cons: Ben Affleck doesn't pull off being a dad convincingly for the whole film.  It's not what you'd expect from Kevin's good, but different, and some fans may not want different.


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