Cinema-Scene.com > Volume 6 > Number 14

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Director:
Kevin Smith

Starring:
Ben Affleck
Raquel Castro
Liv Tyler
George Carlin
Jason Biggs
Jennifer Lopez

Release: 26 Mar. 04
IMDb

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Jersey Girl

BY: DAVID PERRY

Coming soon after Armageddon, aka The End of Bennifer, Miramax yearns for this to be an event picture because it reflects on a time gone by Ė- days when the biggest blemishes on their careers were Reindeer Games and Enough, not the combining of their forces in Gigli. If Kevin Smith deserves any respect Ė- and itís so rare that he does Ė- itís that he chose to defy Miramax by cutting out many of the Jennifer Lopez scenes in Jersey Girl. His defiance is also a perk for the audience, sickened by the schmaltz that he seemed too willing to admire when filming this once happy couple.

Of course, at this point, everyone is sick of these two people. I know that anything that they touch is gold, but their celebrity has been built on such a self-conscious aggrandizement (at least on her part) that their talents -- and, despite recent works attesting otherwise, they have shown talent in the past Ė- have fallen to the wayside. Jersey Girl, trimmed of much of the Bennifer persona, is likely a stronger film than before. Without these two lovey-dovey Page Six personalities smothering the audience, the story, which is at least marginally charming, can flourish. Smithís writing isnít in top form, but itís never been particular sharp. Heís a writer-director who can create stories with terrific actors and make, on occasion, worthwhile movies (Clerks and Chasing Amy being the upper-echelon, with the lesser Dogma pulling behind). Jersey Girl was once an advertisement for the Ben Affleck-Jennifer Lopez juggernaut; now, itís just a confused little film, willing to sit on its own merits. If only people like me would quit using it as a forum to vent on their hatred of the wrecked romance. If any good can come of this, salvation might arise if Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston take note of our vitriol.

To Smithís credit, the film that remains is a fine, if predictable, comment on the confusion of sudden fatherhood. Collected from his own chaotic experiences, this film has a personal level that wasnít found in anything made from the director before now. Where the wit of Chasing Amy has been traded for some schmaltz, a bit of respectable heart has been uncovered. Itís a vulnerable film because it could be said that a father like the one played by Ben Affleck is a poor roll model and unfit to parent a child. An attack on such a paternal example would likely be an affront to Smithís. The subsequent understanding is that maybe even the most unfit sperm donor can learn to be the best father for his offspring
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©2004, David Perry, Cinema-Scene.com, 2 April 2004