Jersey Girl (12A)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner14/06/2004

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 101 mins

Not quite what audiences have come to expect from Kevin Smith, but this is a surprisingly enjoyable, if overly sentimental drama that even Ben Affleck can’t screw up.

Jersey Girl represents something of a change of direction for writer-director Kevin Smith and die-hard fans should note the following: Jay and Silent Bob do not appear (apart from in the animated View Askew logo) and there are hardly any dick jokes.

Ben And Jen Fail To Ruin Film

Also, if you were unlucky enough to see Gigli and can’t stomach the thought of another film in which Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez share screen space, then rest assured: J-Lo carks it 15 minutes into the film and Liv Tyler is actually the female lead.

There’s something about Kevin Smith that manages to bring out Ben Affleck’s best work (Chasing Amy, his self-effacing cameo in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, his nasty piece of work in MallRats) and Jersey Girl is no exception. He plays Oliver Trinke, a successful New York music publicist whose life falls apart after he loses his wife (Jennifer Lopez) in childbirth.

Left to bring up their baby daughter Gertie on his own, Ollie can’t handle it and cracks up in an amusing set-piece where he trashes a pre-Independence Day Will Smith in front of a room full of critics.

The film then flashes forward seven years: Gertie has now grown into an adorable seven year old (Raquel Castro) and Ollie is living at home in New Jersey with his father (George Carlin), working in a dead-end job but still dreaming of the life he used to have. However, when he meets pretty video store clerk Maya (Liv Tyler), he starts to realise that maybe New Jersey isn’t so bad after all…

Not Too Shmaltzy

With it’s themes of raising a child on your own and ‘connecting’ with the kid, this is essentially ‘Jack and Sarah: Seven Years Later’, with bits of About A Boy thrown in. The material demands a certain level of sentimentality and, happily, it isn’t quite the schmaltz-fest you might expect, though Affleck’s Big Crying Scene should probably have been left on the cutting room floor.

Affleck is surprisingly good as Ollie, perhaps because the script allows him to be a bit of a tosser instead of an all-around nice guy. He’s helped considerably by a winning performance from his young co-star Raquel Castro – their scenes together are genuinely sweet. In addition there’s strong support from George Carlin and Liv Tyler is almost too perfect as Maya, managing to be sweet, sexy and funny and giving one of her best performances to date.

Jersey Girl shows Kevin Smith maturing considerably as a director, although the only tell-tale signs that he directed it are the (very funny) cameos by Jason Lee and Matt Damon as well as casting favourites Affleck, Carlin and Jason “Pie F**ker” Biggs as Affleck’s assistant. The film could probably have used a few more jokes though – there are a couple of funny moments but none that really stand out.

That said, Jersey Girl is nowhere near as bad as you might have heard and certainly doesn’t deserve to be tarred with the same brush as Gigli. It’s a nicely acted, competently made ‘dramatic comedy’ that might disappoint rabid Smith fans but is still a cut above the average Hollywood sugar-fest. Worth seeing.

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Jersey Girl (12A)
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Content updated: 23/10/2017 05:13

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