Jersey Girl

Jersey Girl

***1/2

Reviewed by: David Stanners

As a general rule, chick flicks are chick flicks. No matter how much girlfriends and wives try to woo the soft nurturing sides in their men, it rarely works.

Jersey Girl is another chick flick, of that there is no doubt. Whereas it's easy to diss the rubbish ones, this is surprisingly good and for a number of reasons will force men all over the country into admitting that, despite being dragged kicking and screaming from the 2004 Euros, they actually quite enjoyed it.

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Ollie Trinke (Ben Affleck) is a big hitter in the music PR world of Manhattan. With a career hitting new orbits and a gorgeous pregnant girlfriend (Jennifer Lopez), life is sweet. But when his seemingly impregnable world is thrown into a black hole by one of life's below the belt punches, he finds himself a single dad, with a career on the rocks, living in New Jersey with his father.

Days, months and years pass and after a spate of knock backs, he flings in his lot with the PR lark and joins his father driving the "Batmobile" as a street sweeper. His daughter Gertie (Raquel Castro) is now seven, with a penchant for movies - and Sweeney Todd.

He takes her to the local video store, where he meets Maya (Liv Tyler), a strange and beautiful video clerk. When she catches him with his mitts in the adult section, a bit of initially awkward banter is followed by some refreshingly candid questions from Maya, regarding Trinke's sexual practices. Apparently writing a thesis on sexual behaviour, Trinke is selected as the fortunate recipient of her case study.

Writer/director Kevin Smith (Clerks, Chasing Amy) has done a sterling job in steering this away from the mush of lovey dovey syndrome, where laughs are gained at the expense of squirmy sentimentalism. The comedy is darker here and more novel; exactly what you'd expect from a Kevin Smith romantic comedy, if you could ever imagine him directing one.

The chemistry between Tyler and Affleck works a treat, partly because Tyler has a well-scripted role, full of sharp, witty quips. Combine charm and intelligence with her looks and life probably doesn't get any better. Affleck, whose career since Good Will Hunting has been critically in the dog house, actually pulls this one off. It may not beef his reputation as an actor, but at least he's in a decent film.

Will Smith, initially the butt of Trinke's joke, as "a two bit TV actor", comes in late with a great tongue-in-cheek cameo role. Broadway scenes from Sweeney Todd, also add a little darkness to the equation. As Gertie's teacher says: "Thank God it's not Cats."

If you want to relieve the wife of an interminable summer of sport, this could be just the ticket.

Reviewed on: 19 Jun 2004
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Jersey Girl packshot
A high-flying Manhattan music publicist is forced to reassess his life.
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Director: Kevin Smith

Writer: Kevin Smith

Starring: Ben Affleck, Liv Tyler, Jennifer Lopez, Raquel Castro, George Carlin, Stephen Root, Will Smith

Year: 2004

Runtime: 102 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US

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