‘Jersey Girl’ Retro Review
Director: Kevin Smith
Starring: Ben Affleck, Liv Tyler, George Carlin, Jennifer Lopez, Jason Biggs
Plot: Single parent Ollie has never been able to put his life back together after the death of his wife, but then meets a potential new romantic interest while renting porn.
Clerks was a great film. It had unlikeable characters but it’s core audience are slackers who got stuck in a rut during their early 20s. They’re sympathetic for this reason. By this logic the only people who will find the lead character in Jersey Girl sympathetic are negligent parents. This needed to be a character driven piece, but you will hate these characters because they are horrible people. I’m beginning to suspect that Kevin Smith might have a bit of ‘Community’s’ Abed in him, since he can’t comprehend people outside of pop-culture references.
The movie starts with the blossoming romance between Ollie and Gertrude (Affleck and Lopez), and whilst the narrator is telling us that this was a great love affair, we never see it. We see them fight a couple of times, he rolls his eyes at her behind her back and then she dies during child birth. This leave Ollie a broken man – which is strange, because the way he was behaving you’d think he’d be happy to be rid of her. He’s then left a single parent, which this film depicts as being the lowliest form of life on the planet.
Before we explain why we’re given this impression, Ollie does go through a tough time following the death of his wife who he always fought with and justifiably has difficultly bonding with this daughter at the outset. At least, we’ll assume that’s what was happening since the acting is so terrible he just comes off as a negligent dickhole. That, however, doesn’t excuse the fact Ollie and everyone around seem disgusted by the sight of a baby. Within a year being a single parent loses him his bigwig publicist job, his apartment and all his friends (I’ll presume, I never see any around) and he’s working as a garbage collector while moving back into his parents house not to have sex for seven years. Relationships is a big theme of the movie, but they’re equally mishandled. Characters act like complete idiots in any and all circumstances while Ollie keeps reminding his daughter about how much he misses his old life while the only instructions she’s been given is ‘stare wide eyed’.
All the biggest faults with this film comes from the crap script. Smith’s writing in this film is so bad that when it comes time for Ollie to make a big inspirational speech that turns his life around he shows a dialogue free montage of him giving a speech set to inspirational music being skipping to the next scene where he tells Liv Tyler what a great speech it was. The only scenes that are worth a damn are the ones where Smith has called in his mates to fill out some bit parts as cameos.
This lack of imagination extends to all facets of the movie. The joke set-ups are beyond dull and attempts at edgy humour – such as making the audience watch a child using the toilet, or watching curious children show each other their junk – are simply uncomfortable for all involved. Liv Tyler’s character is especially dull, having been given the same glasses and haircut as every other leading lady he’s ever cast.
Her character seems like she might be able to inject some life into proceedings, but she’s just as boring and idiotic as everyone else, declaring that Ollie turning up to his daughters stage performance that HE WAS CO-STARRING in is the ‘most romantic thing’ she’s ever seen. The only on-screen romance less believable is the one between Affleck and Lopez at the beginning of the movie.
I can’t tell if this was supposed to be a drama or a comedy as it fails completely at both. Then is ends on a Bon Jovi song, so I couldn’t even appreciate it being over. If you haven’t seen it already, assume you think it’s garbage and move on.
ONE outta TEN