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Ollie Trinkie is a publicist, who has a great girlfriend, Gertrude, whom he marries and they are expecting a baby but while he is looking forward to being a father, he doesn't lighten his workload. Gertrude gives birth but dies in the process. Ollie doesn't live up to his responsibilities as a father. Eventually the strain and pressure of losing his wife and being a father gets to him and he has breakdown, which leads to his termination. So with nothing much to do he tries to be good father to his daughter, Gertie. He also meets a young woman name Maya, who likes him but he is still not over his wife.
For more about Jersey Girl and the Jersey Girl Blu-ray release, see Jersey Girl Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on March 13, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Director: Kevin Smith (I)
Writer: Kevin Smith (I)
Starring: Ben Affleck, Liv Tyler, Raquel Castro, Jennifer Lopez, George Carlin, Jason Biggs
» See full cast & crew
Jersey Girl Blu-ray Review
Mr. Smith Goes to Hollywood.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, March 13, 2013
Oh, for the storied days of Bennifer—no, not the current one, which is clad in the golden hues of domestic bliss and Oscars, but Bennifer 1.0, the fabled pairing of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez. If Art imitates Life, we might have at least a peek at what an actual Affleck-Lopez union could have been like in Jersey Girl, the Ishtar of Kevin Smith films, an outing which received a lot of critical brickbats back in the day, many of them leveled at least as much at Ben and J. Lo and their "love affair" as anything actually in the film. Smith is not exactly celebrated for his touch-feely qualities, and that may have been as much to blame as anything for Jersey Girl's rather spectacular failure at the time of its theatrical release, for throngs of Smith fans were probably hoping for another Clerks or Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. In fact Jersey Girl is perhaps more reminiscent of Chasing Amy, positing a slowly developing relationship between radically different characters and doing so without an excess of snark or vitriol. This was the first of Smith's films not to be set (overtly or otherwise) in what has been termed the View Askewniverse, that alternate reality of sorts which is both tethered to Smith's east coast roots but which is distinctly unique and typically features such outré characters as Jay and Silent Bob. Whether that also added to the disappointment that Smith aficionados especially felt is debatable, but the fact is Jersey Girl was uncommonly reviled in 2004, and as the second in a one-two filmic punch against Bennifer (the other being the even more reviled Gigli), it is "credited", rightly or wrongly, with having helped to bring an early end to one of the most storied romances of our time (not).
One of the oddest things about Jersey Girl is the disconnect between its standard romantic comedy framework and Smith's typically much more vinegary style. That creates an inner tension to the film that audiences at the time may have had a hard time digesting or relating to, but which in hindsight gives Jersey Girl a decided edge that so many other rom-coms have blunted to the point where it couldn't cut butter. Ben Affleck plays high flying public relations maestro Ollie, who has a blissfully happy marriage with Gertrude (Jennifer Lopez). That domestic bliss comes to a shattering end when Gertrude dies in childbirth (this really isn't much of a spoiler since it's the raison d'être for the entire plot which follows). That sends Ollie into a personal and professional tailspin. He's incapable of dealing effectively with his new daughter and his career ends up suffering from his emotional issues, ending in yet another calamity.
Things actually got off to a semi-good start in Jersey Girl, as we're offered a whirlwind of little bits with a bunch of school kids reading reports about their families. These are at the least amusing, if not laugh out loud hilarious. The last little girl up to the plate is adorable Gertie Trinke (Raquel Castro), who gives us the back story on her dad (Affleck) and late mother Gertrude (Jennifer Lopez). As soon as we lapse into this supposed flashback, though, things change tonally for the worse and then the film veers off into wild improbability which is only compounded by the fact that it's not all that clear if we're continuing to "see" Gertie's report or not.
The bottom line incongruity in the first section of Jersey Girl is this: Ollie is a fabulously successful PR hack (sorry to my many friends and colleagues in the public relations field) who obviously undergoes a horrible tragedy when his wife dies giving birth to their daughter. But instead of using his fabulous wealth and connections to, oh, I don't know, hire a nanny to help with the kid, he completely flips out, moving in with his father Bart (George Carlin), whom he can't really stand, and then refusing to deal with his daughter at all, leading to horrible ramifications both personally and professionally.
The film then lurches forward to Gertie's young years and we find that Ollie has become a younger version of his father, driving a street sweeper in his Jersey neighborhood. He's at least become a marginally better father to Gertie, though even there he leaves something to be desired. And then he meets mouthy video store (remember those?) clerk Maya (Liv Tyler), at which point the film really descends into syrupy territory. Can Maya's hardnosed wisecracks break through Ollie's years of defensiveness and refusal to finally accept the passing of his wife? What do you think?
It's manifestly obvious that Kevin Smith meant this to be his mainstream breakthrough, even if Smith himself is notoriously in denial about his intent, having gone so far as to lambaste the general public if they didn't "get" the film. But the issue here is that Smith, for all his success, is resolutely not a mainstream filmmaker, and that's part of his charm as well as his allure. He has a distinctly, well, skewed perspective, and trying to make a cookie cutter rom-com like this is like trying to furiously pound a square peg into a round hole.
I mentioned this in my Anger Management: Season One Blu-ray review, but one of the laugh out loud funniest jokes I've ever heard was on a flight I took where the mini-television entertainment included bits from Conan O'Brien's "News from the Future". With a ghastly green flashlight stuck under his chin and casting an eerie glow on his already rather weird looking face, Conan portentously announced, "In the future, robots will replace humans in dull, repetitive tasks like washing dishes and marrying J. Lo." That line has remained one of my favorite punchlines of all time, and it's the sort of acidy zinger that's curiously absent from much of Jersey Girl, especially odd since Smith is such an expert crafter of similarly skewed humor. I'm almost tempted to adapt Conan's great line and add "watching lame rom- coms" as one of the dull repetitive tasks humans have to endure, but that might be totally unfair to our future robot population.
Jersey Girl Blu-ray, Video Quality
Jersey Girl is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Miramax and Echo Bridge Entertainment with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 2.44:1. Echo Bridge regularly gets raked over the coals for its Blu-ray offerings, but Jersey Girl looks rather good overall, with good fine object detail in close-ups, nicely saturated and accurate looking color and a generally crisp and clear looking image. The elements here are in excellent condition, and the only niggling complaint some may have is some spotty contrast issues which occasionally hobble some of the darker interior scenes. This film was lensed by the legendary cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond (Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Heaven's Gate), a perhaps unlikely sounding choice, but one which invests this kind of tired effort with some unexpected visual allure, albeit in somewhat drab environments.
Jersey Girl Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Jersey Girl features two serviceable if rather standard sounding lossless audio options, one in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and the other a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo fold down. The best part of the sound mix here is the great use of source cues, which vary from Bruce Springsteen to Stephen Sondheim (the film ends with a spectacularly improbable grade school staging of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street). Some of the larger scenes, like the PR event touting Will Smith in Independence Day , nicely engage the surrounds to create a fantastically lifelike hall ambience full of lot of hustle and bustle, but the great bulk of this film is quieter dialogue scenes, which are pretty resolutely anchored front and center. Fidelity remains excellent, while dynamic range is (as should be expected) rather limited.
Jersey Girl Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Jersey Girl Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Jersey Girl is probably not as horrible as a lot of critics made it out to be at the time of its release, but that doesn't mean it's very good, either. There are little sparks here and there that bring to mind classic Kevin Smith, but this is a surprisingly bland little rom-com that has little of the pointedness and relevance that many of Smith's other entries have. Fans of the film will probably be more than happy with this Blu-ray's audio and video presentation, and the two commentaries are enjoyable. But there are both better Smith films out there as well as better rom-coms.
Jersey Girl: Other Editions
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