Opening 6 Jan 2005
Writer/director Kevin Smith (Clerks, Chasing Amy, Dogma) ventures into new territory – parenthood – in Jersey Girl, his first “grown-up” film. Girl stars frequent Smith collaborator Ben Affleck as Ollie, a PR executive at the top of his game until his new wife (Jennifer Lopez in a brief appearance) dies giving birth to their daughter. Suddenly Ollie’s life is in a tailspin, and when he completely loses it in front of the entire New York City entertainment press corps, he retreats to New Jersey with his baby daughter to live with his dad (George Carlin). When we see him again seven years later, he’s still in Jersey, working as a garbage man and happy with how his daughter has turned out but still longing for the life he had to leave behind.
Apparently Kevin Smith felt that having his first child meant it was time for him to move into more “adult” themes in his films. While this is understandable, it didn’t really work for me in Girl. The film is very inconsistent – sometimes sharp and witty, sometimes too cutesy to bear. The plot is very contrived and unrealistic (Ollie couldn’t have found any other jobs in PR in seven years?), and while Ollie’s later love interest (played by the winsome Liv Tyler) provides welcome levity, she appears and disappears for no apparent reason. Overall, there were flashes of the old Smith brilliance, but in the end this Girl was a pretty boring one to spend time with. (Kirsten Greco)