You may not have felt it, but jersey girl is in the air. Kevin Smith recently celebrated their 52nd birthday and upcoming movie, Clerk IIIdue out this summer. Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez recently met and got married in a chapel in Las Vegas. Everywhere you look, you feel like the universe is telling you only one thing: give jersey girl another chance. Who am I to argue with the will of the universe? Indeed, it’s high time to revisit and offer a passionate defense of Smith’s much-maligned 2004 film.
jersey girl stars Affleck as a New York music publicist and Lopez as his wife, who died in childbirth. Left alone with a newborn, Affleck retreats to his dad (played by the late big George Carlin) place in New Jersey. After his career plummets, he devotes himself to being a devoted father and later meets a charming video store salesman (Liv Tyler) which brings a little pep and romance back into her life. When offered a chance at career redemption, Affleck’s character must decide what he really wants: a return to the noisy, stressful life of the big cities, or a calmer, happier life in the suburbs of the New Jersey. Upon its release, jersey girl bombed at the box office, was nominated for 3 Razzie Awards, and was declared by The Washington Post to be “just awful”, with a “tortuous finish”.
jersey girl was Kevin Smith’s first film to be set outside of his View Askewniverse and did not feature the many hockey-playing, comic book-reading, and loafing characters that Smith fans had come to know and love (only the character of Liv Tyler feels like she belongs in a Kevin Smith movie). Instead, it took a more traditional rom-com approach. But after years of making movies that lovingly celebrated and berated convenience store salesmen and mallrats, Smith’s jersey girl offered a much-needed critique of a high-powered, big-city existence that can bring some people a lot of fame and wealth, but ultimately leads to an unfulfilling existence.
jersey girl is a surprisingly wholesome Capraesque film that celebrates adulthood and commitment to family. Perhaps that’s why it struck a bad chord with the fanbase Smith had cultivated up to that point, but the movie’s message is an important part of Smith’s worldview and carries over to the future View Askewniverse entries. Consider, for example, the conclusion of Smith’s next film Clerk IIin which Dante (Brian O’Halloran) decides to stay in New Jersey with his best friends and marry the woman (Rosario Dawson) who really loves her. It’s basically the end of jersey girl dropped in the View Askewniverse. Smith’s next film after Clerk II, Zack and Miri make a porn, ends the same way with its heroes falling in love and getting married.
In other words, jersey girl marks an important turning point in Smith’s filmography. He’s no longer a 20-something only interested in chasing after women and obsessed with comic books. Instead, he’s a father and husband navigating the next era of his life. Smith has grown and so have his characters. Some people may have thought this growth was sudden or surprising, but it was a necessary next step in Smith’s development as an artist.
jersey girl does something surprisingly rare for a movie that isn’t on the Hallmark Channel: it celebrates everyday people. He relishes the dreams and ambitions of people who aren’t famous and probably never will be. He says small town life – as long as that life is fulfilling and happy – is definitely worth living. As long as you pursue the life you really want, you’re a superhero in Kevin Smith’s eyes.
Even though jersey girlThe beautiful life-affirming message doesn’t appeal to your cold black heart, there’s still plenty to admire here, like George Carlin’s surprisingly dramatic turn as a lonely old widower trying to steer his wires in the right direction, or Raquel CastroAffleck’s endlessly charming performance as Affleck’s 7-year-old daughter. Vilmos Zsigmondthe photography of is warm and beautiful, Liv Tyler delivers one of her best performances, and even Will Smith shows up for a memorable cameo. Honestly, what’s not to like about this movie?
Maybe if jersey girl went out after Clerk II, Smith’s fans might have been less surprised at how sentimental he had become. Perhaps if Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez weren’t such huge gossip targets, the film would have received less derision. maybe so the teaser was not so lame, more tickets would have been sold. But those excuses are all ancient history. Today is a good day to revisit — or watch for the first time — a movie that will inspire laughter, warm your heart, and make you reconsider all the bad things you’ve said about the state of New Jersey.