Directed by: Kevin Smith
Premise: A big city public relations representative (Ben Affleck) has a major life change when his wife (Jennifer Lopez) dies in childbirth, making him a single parent.
What Works: This is a wonderful film, possibly Kevin Smith’s best work. The Mr. Mom formula has been seen before but this film gives it an honesty and emotional arc that is as funny as it is moving. Ben Affleck’s performance is very good and he works well with Liv Tyler and Racquel Castro, who plays his daughter at age six. The sleeper performance in the film is George Carlin as Affleck’s father; he brings sarcasm and blue-collar roughness to the role but also a subtle humanity to the entire picture. This is the kind of supporting role that ought to have been nominated for an Academy Award.
What Doesn’t: The story is very formulaic and although Smith gives it a lot of humor and personal touches, it is still very predictable. Noticeably absent from the picture are the characters Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith), who are featured in every other Kevin Smith film. They do not belong in Jersey Girl and Smith is wise to leave them out. Hardcore Kevin Smith fans might be disappointed by this omission, however.
DVD extras: Commentary track with Kevin Smith and Ben Affleck, commentary track with Kevin Smith, Jason Mewes, and producer Scott Mosier, a discussion between Smith and Affleck about their work together, Tonight Show’s Roadside Attractions, featurette, text interviews.
Bottom Line: Jersey Girl, although formulaic, is a well-crafted picture with a very authentic and honest heart to it. This film is a big step up for Kevin Smith and in time it will likely be remembered as one of his best films.
Episode: #34 (January 9, 2005)