Director Spotlight: Jersey Girl


Isn’t that cute? It’s 8 o’clock and you both get a bottle.

Kevin Smith…what can I say about the man?!  In the 90’s, Smith hit Hollywood by storm with his “Askewniverse” series of films that I adore.  My first film that I saw of his was 1995’s Mallrats.  I was floored with his tongue-in-cheek humour which promptly has me viewing 92’s Clerks and one of my favorites 1997’s Chasing Amy.  Smith’s style of filming was an indie hit.  It wasn’t till 2004’s Jersey Girl that he kind of hit a wall when he so-called tried going more Hollywood by breaking his indie style and going a new direction.  With that said, that’s the film I’m going to discuss here.

When trying to go a different direction, new roadblocks will occur.  Sure he got criticism from religious groups with 1999’s Dogma but what he got from Jersey Girl was different.  He got criticized from loyal fans to critics alike.  His loyal fans didn’t like the fact it wasn’t like the others or tied in some way to them.  His critics didn’t care for his switch to romantic comedy/family film due to his previous work.  Another factor working against Smith here was “Bennifer”.  Ben Affleck who stars in this film previously worked with Jennifer Lopez in 2003’s major flop and panned film Gigli.  Having these two actors again turned many away but what they failed to realize is the fact Lopez is hardly in this film.  Due to the backlash Miramax, who is the distributor of the movie, removed all images of Lopez from all promotional spots out of fear to the criticism of Gigli.  They didn’t stop there, they actually pushed back the release date and eventually put the character’s fate in the previews to play down the overall presence on-screen.

The premise of the film is of a successful PR executive named Oliver “Ollie” Trinke (named after the DC Comics character Oliver “Ollie” Queen aka Green Arrow due to Smith’s ties to writing 15 issues) who meets, falls in love, and conceives with Gertude Steiney.  Tragedy hits when Gertude dies in childbirth (not a spoiler, remember Miramax put this in the trailers). It’s from this point the story truly takes off and see how a now single father struggles with parenthood and life in general.

Affleck does pretty well here with a nice range as Ollie.  Seeing his character change over the course of the film was expected with this type of film but not all actors can pull it off nicely, Affleck does.  Of course Smith knows this after putting him into a good bulk of his films.  Newcomers to Smith’s world are Raquel Castro, Liv Tyler, and Mr. American Pie himself Jason Biggs.  Castro does well as Ollie’s daughter Gertie.  Being 10 years old at the time, some kid actors aren’t always up to the task.  I’m not saying she did great but she was good as you expect someone her age to act.  Tyler plays Maya, Ollie’s new love interest as the story progresses.  The interesting tidbit I found out was that Smith originally wrote her character with Eliza Dushku in mind but decided against it since Dushku looked more like Affleck’s daughter than girlfriend due to size.  To my surprise is the fact Biggs beat out Jason Lee for the role of Arthur Bankman.  Smith does use Lee in a cameo scene with fellow Smith vet Matt Damon.  To no surprise, Jason Mewes was the original actor for this role but his personal issues with substance abuse forced him not to take the role.

What I always liked about Smith’s films is that he always puts personal touches to film that reflect different aspects of his personal life and Jersey Girl is no different.  Right down to the smallest details you can find hidden easter eggs that reflect on him in some shape or form.  This film may have gotten negative feedback or just not as thrive as well as some the other films but I enjoyed it.  I mean come on, the legendary George Carlin is in here as Ollie’s father and has some great lines as you would expect from him.  What you may not expect is that Carlin in my mind is the best actor in the film.  He shines and steals almost all scenes he is in.

Jersey Girl is a nice film to watch regardless of who you are with but is a nice date film as well.  Whether you are a Kevin Smith fan or not, go see this.  Plus you will even get amusement out of the Will Smith bashing and cameo as a bonus.

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Posted on October 14, 2011, in Director Spotlight and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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