ninth symphony films - movie reviews

JERSEY GIRL (2004)


DIRECTOR  -  kevin smith

RATED  -  pg-13

GENRE  -  drama

LENGTH  -  103 minutes

RELEASED  -  26 march 2004

DISTRIBUTOR  -  miramax pictures

OFFICIAL SITE  -  jersey girl

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $35,000,000
jersey girl - a shot from the film

BUY THE DVD:

buy the dvd from jersey girl at amazon.com

buy the dvd from jersey girl at amazon.com


SYNOPSIS:
After his career is sidelined from an unexpected tragedy and a personal blowup, a single man must take care of his precocious daughter.




MOVIE FACT:
jason lee originally auditioned for jason biggs' role.


MOVIE FOTOS:

picture from jersey girl

picture from jersey girl

picture from jersey girl

picture from jersey girl



RATING:


one out of four possible stars

Put simply, director and writer Kevin Smith, known for such literary filmic treats as Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and Dogma, is capable of much more in a feature film, and Jersey Girl is hardly an impressive display of his abilities behind the camera. Although his films have never enjoyed complete success as far as critics and audiences are concerned, Jersey Girl seems unlikely to impress either camp. While the performances are "okay," further compliments on the cast are hard come by. It is probable that the very weak script of the film is mostly to blame, while some strange casting decisions have complicated the matter.

Lead star Ben Affleck has had his share of successes and failures during his colorful career, and though his performance in this film sometimes hits a high note (during the climactic argument scene with his daughter, for example), his appearance in this film is neither wholly impressive nor appreciably dreadful. His character just hovers in the middle somewhere, unable to break out of what is, on most fronts, a mediocre movie. This is surprising, given his penchant for hilarity in his other Kevin Smith film appearances (he's appeared in nearly every film Smith has directed).

Whatever the sentimental reasoning behind the story, the drama is never dramatic enough and the comedy is never funny enough. Even comic master George Carlin, who attempts to pull a few straight punches playing Affleck's alcoholic father, can't seem to rise above a few lightly funny quips and some rather shallow, "meaningful" dialogue. An admirable sentiment is present in his character (he is one of the people to kick Affleck's character into action regarding the care of "Gertie"), though in what can only be labeled as a large surprise, more often than not, his jokes miss the mark.

Maybe this specific story was the wrong forum for a comedian of his type. While his "meaningful" moments can be appreciated (even if they should have been more intense), his trademark wit is just lost on the other character. For example, his two drinking buddies, "Greenie" and "Block" (played by Stephen Root and Mike Starr, respectively), attempt to engage in banter-like humor during most of their scenes and the "humor" is just more strange than appropriate. There seems to be an almost homosexual relationship that exists between Root and Starr's characters, but that story (if it was ever part of the movie to begin with) is never really touched upon in any way, making most of the duo's comments utterly confusing.

And although supporting actress Liv Tyler lights up the screen with a quirky performance (quirky is quite an over-used term, but it is exactly the word one needs to describe her character) as "Maya," Affleck's love interest, who works at a local video store. Tyler frequently giggles and the most inopportune times and seems to be laughing at something inside her head, rather than at something a character around her uttered. Her character is like one continuous non sequitur. While she is a charming person, her dialogue and actions will leave the audience scratching their heads.

It's difficult to determine the exact cause as to why Jersey Girl just doesn't add up right. Much to her critics' dismay, Jennifer Lopez's brief appearance at the beginning of the film (as Affleck's wife who dies in childbirth) is competently done, though no one will be able to say her chemistry with Affleck is on fire. She plays the small role as well as can be expected (probably more-so given the weakness of the dialogue). And the "Jersey Girl," the character upon whom responsibility for the title can rest, is played with suitable (though not outstanding) flair by Raquel Castro, in what is her feature film debut. Playing against Affleck, Castro makes "Gertie" a charming and (fortunately for the audience) a child character who isn't annoying to older viewers.

In a case of the wrong people coming together at the wrong time, the actors and crew of Jersey Girl have given a fine effort, but have not given the audience a truly satisfying film. While it might be too hostile to dump the eternal, "this film has nothing new to offer," even folks interested in seeing this genre of movie might come out of the theater feeling like they should have gotten more enthusiasm for their money. And given Smith's theatrical triumphs of past years, it is a mystery as to why he would have penned such a "soft" movie. Jersey Girl never takes chances and it never grabs you by the throat, demanding that you give it your full attention. The film is merely acceptable, in a genre thatís already had its share of average.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.


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