Fred’s No Clue Movie Review

“Jersey Girl”
Directed by Kevin Smith

I’m a huge Kevin Smith fan.  I find myself always laughing at his crude jokes, funny characters and outlandish barely there plot lines in all of his movies.  This is Smith’s attempt at a more grown up film, minus the very popular Jay and Silent Bob characters.  I found it to be sweet, touching, a tad predictable, and above all crowd-pleasing.  I think he’s succeeded at transitioning from his previous insaneness into a more reserved comedic tale about a father trying to raise his 7-year-old daughter.

Ben Affleck once again is at the center of the movie as Ollie Trinke.  When we first meet him at the beginning of the film, he’s a driven music industry publicist.  He’s living the rich life in NYC, with his new bride Gertrude, played by Jenny Lopez.  When she dies shortly after childbirth, Ollie is left to raise his daughter alone.  He tries desperately to hang on to his workaholic lifestyle, but realizes that his family should be the top priority in his life.  I think Affleck is very effective in this role as the overwhelmed family man.  I related to his desire to have it all and struggle to just be happy.   I felt this was Affleck at his most vulnerable and playful.  In his scenes with his daughter Gertie, played by the oh so cute Raquel Castro, you feel his pain and yet see his charming side all at once.  Plus, the two are so comfortable together and so effortless, you’d swear they were related.  I think Affleck owes a big debt to Kevin Smith for giving him yet another role that showcases he has an ability to act in the big leagues.  He has this everyman quality that is relatable and enjoyable to watch.  This role should hopefully fix some of his battered “Bennifer” image.

The supporting case deserves some kudos too.  Liv Tyler as Maya, the video store clerk that steals Ollie’s heart again, is every guy’s dream.  A gorgeous woman who’s open to your porn renting practices, ready to have sex at a moment’s notice and trash talk with the best of them.  She just lights up the screen at every turn.  George Carlin plays very convincingly Pop, Ollie’s Dad.  An old curmudgeon who just melts at the site of is granddaughter Gertie.  Yet also, a borderline alcoholic and loving father who has also suffered his share of loss.  This has to be one of his best roles yet and who knew he had it in him.  Smith also has some very funny cameos by some old View Askew pals, as well as, some new ones. 

This is Smith’s best looking film yet.  Nicely photographed, Smith seems to improve with each new film that he makes.  I did think that the editing relied too much on the back and forth close-ups, but not enough to distract me from the flow of the story.  It moves at a brisk pace.  He was never a very experienced filmmaker in the technical sense, but he’s improving each time out.  This movie reminded me of Chasing Amy, his previous Affleck flick, but is a little more accessible to the mainstream.  

The story is sweet and touching.  It takes a dip in the second half of the film into very predictable saw it a thousand times before scenes.  The funny part was, I was having such a good time with these characters, and I didn’t care how clichéd it got.  There are enough moments for me, where he puts a new spin on a tired device and most importantly, tugs at your heartstrings.  This film made me laugh, tear up a little and just plain feel good.

This is a crowd-pleasing movie that warms your heart.  It doesn’t have the belly laughs of Clerks or Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, but proves that Kevin Smith is a maturing filmmaker who has no problem laying his heart and soul right our on the screen.  I highly recommend this film if you need a lift in your spirits.  If you’re not a Kevin Smith fan already, I hope this film makes you one. 

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Come back soon, until then, I’ll be at the movies