Jersey Girl movie review, dvd
Jersey Girl movie poster

Jersey Girl
Ben Affleck, Liv Tyler

Directed by Kevin Smith
Rated PG-13
for language and sexual content including frank dialogue

out of Stars, Movie Grade: B+
movie poster movie trailer

Theatrical Release: March 26, 2004
Running time: 102 minutes

by Kevin Lang

Director Kevin Smith's latest film, Jersey Girl, was a refreshing change from the average romantic comedy that my girlfriend and I probably see at least once a month. It's not that I don't enjoy this genre of film, but after a while these movies all seem to blend together. For example, I recently attended a screening of The Prince and Me starring Julia Stiles. It could have just as easily been titled Chasing Liberty or The Lizzie McGuire Movie or Maid in Manhattan, etc, etc. With Jersey Girl, Kevin Smith remade the mold a little.

Instead of focusing on a single relationship between two central characters, Smith successfully developed multiple relationships between several characters. The movie, which starred Ben Affleck, Liv Tyler, George Carlin, and for several minutes Jennifer Lopez, was not Gigli 2 as some pre-release articles were forecasting. First of all, we can actually pronounce this movie's title.

Jersey Girl told the story of a widower named Ollie Trinkie, who lost his wife during the birth of his daughter Gertie (Raquel Castro). Ollie had to learn how to manage a job and raise a daughter as a single parent while living with his father Bart (George Carlin). Eventually, Ollie met Maya (Live Tyler) at the local video store, and he soon found himself reluctantly interested in her. His hesitation felt right to me, as I knew he did not want to betray the memory of his wife. Ollie made sure to state this early in his friendship with Maya by telling her that he still loved his wife. Director Kevin Smith paid good attention not to let their relationship develop too fast, even though it amusingly almost did.

The main focus of Jersey Girl was Ollie's relationship with his daughter Gertie. Their relationship was the emotional focal point of the film, around which all of the other relationships developed. In this way, the film's structure adequately represented the significance of the relationships in Ollie's life, paying more attention to the people who were most important in Ollie's life at that moment. I liked this approach. It contradicts the approach that a different filmmaker would likely have taken, where the child would have been left in the background to focus primarily on the father's newfound romance.

In the end, Jersey Girl was an intelligently made, heartwarming film that will, in the least, widen Kevin Smith's scope as a filmmaker. Smith extracted impressive performances from Ben Affleck and the rest of the cast. As usual with his films, Smith paid keen attention to dialogue, and he enjoyably built his scenes around such interaction. Despite several sequences that were slightly drawn out, Jersey Girl was a well-done film that was easy to enjoy.

"Jersey Girl" Review written March 26, 2004, CTF.

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