"Celebrating Family, Loyalty, and Responsibility"
JERSEY GIRL is a nice surprise from writer and director Kevin Smith. It stars Ben Affleck as Ollie Trinke, a music publicist in Manhattan who falls in love with Jennifer Lopez’s character but watches her die during childbirth. Suddenly a single father and widow, Ollie finds the stress overwhelming and loses his prestigious job, forcing him to move to the New Jersey suburbs with his father. This movie is clearly an ode to fathers who give all they have to bringing together their families.
Ollie is, at first, not supportive of his daughter. His wife’s death has left him so angry that he cannot even bear to put young Gertie her to sleep or change her diaper. The baby is a constant, painful reminder of his wife. Even after he realizes his foolishness and dedicates his life to caring for Gertie, he still misses his old high-rolling lifestyle in New York. His weeks used to consist of exciting parties, dinners with celebrities, and an expensive apartment with a view of the city. Now, he is a street cleaner in the suburbs and shares a split-level with his father, played warmly and wisely by George Carlin. Still, Ollie relishes the time he spends with his daughter and is on time every day to pick her up from school.
Life becomes more complicated when Ollie meets Maya, a pretty graduate student working at a video rental store. They begin to flirt, and even though Maya makes a raunchy proposal, Ollie attempts to keep their relationship honorable. (Temptation is strong, and he nearly fails, it should be noted.) At this point, Ollie is reminded of the life he led many years ago, and he begins to seek out what he possessed before Gertie was born – a life that appeared materially impressive, rather than the modest means he lives with now.
In the end, Ollie chooses his daughter over the seduction of success and excitement. This ending is heartening and provides a strong example of families staying together and supporting one another. Ollie’s dad, Bart, is similarly supportive, taking care of his son and granddaughter even when Ollie doesn’t realize that they need to be taken care of. With his high quality script, Kevin Smith makes the message of ‘family over job’ feel very fresh and relevant.
JERSEY GIRL is warm and also benefits from the sharply written, often very funny dialogue. The biggest problem is the glut of foul language – almost 50 obscenities and 26 profanities, though there are no uses of the “f-word.” The sexual discussions also make the movie inappropriate for younger audiences, especially the one between Ollie and Maya that relates to pornography.
There is a brief scene in which eight-year-old Gertie and a friend play doctor, but it ends with Ollie informing his daughter and her friend that “only married boys and girls show each other their parts.” Of course, later Ollie and Maya are caught about to show each other their parts, which contradicts his statement. Still, the movie promotes a generally moral view.
Mature audiences will like JERSEY GIRL for its portrayal of two generations of caring, concerned fathers, and media-savvy audiences will laugh at its snarky pop culture references. Although the story is very much a family-friendly one, it is packaged in a more typical Kevin Smith fashion; hence, the vulgarity and language.
(BBB, C, Pa, LLL, V, S, N, A, DD, M) Very strong moral/biblical worldview that seeks dedication to family and love over selfishness or material wealth, with some Christian iconography and a reference to Saint Paul, but also some liberal attitudes toward sex and morality; 47 obscenities and 26 profanities; very brief scene of play-acted violence during a Broadway show; fornication implied, though the couple soon gets married, with frank discussions of masturbation and pornography; a man is shown shirtless and a woman in her bra as they are interrupted making out; characters drink beer; some brief references to illegal drugs; and, man neglects his daughter after wife dies but changes his ways.
JERSEY GIRL stars Ben Affleck as Ollie, a music publicist in Manhattan whose wife dies during childbirth. At first, the baby is a constant, painful reminder of his wife, and the stress drives him to lose his job. Soon he realizes that life must continue, and he moves to the suburbs of New Jersey, dedicating himself to raising his daughter. He relishes the time he spends with her and is on time each day to pick her from school. Still, he misses the exciting parties and prestigious job he enjoyed in Manhattan. Many years later, Ollie still pines for his old life and considers taking another publicist job, which would require uprooting his daughter. Success and excitement seduce him, and he must choose between job and family.
JERSEY GIRL is warm and affirming but also benefits from a sharply written, often very funny script. The glut of foul language mars the movie, as well as some frank discussions of sex and pornography. Generally, the characters promote an extremely positive, moral worldview that values love of family, loyalty, and responsibility above material wealth, making the movie a nice surprise from writer-director Kevin Smith.