Prayer Focus
Movie Review

Jersey Girl

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language and sexual content including frank dialogue

Reviewed by: Jonathan Rodriguez
CONTRIBUTOR

Very Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens and Adults
Genre:
Comedy, Romance
Year of Release:
2004
USA Release:
______
Featuring: Ben Affleck (Daredevil, Gigli, Pearl Harbor)
Liv Tyler (The Lord of the Rings, Dr. T and the Women, Onegin, Armageddon)
Raquel Castro
George Carlin (Scary Movie 3, Dogma)
Jason Biggs (American Wedding, Anything Else, American Pie 2)
Director: Kevin Smith (Dogma)
Producer: Scott Mosier, Kevin Smith
Distributor: Miramax
Copyright, Miramax
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Every time you buy a movie ticket or rent a video you are casting a vote telling Hollywood “That’s what I want.” Why does Hollywood continue to promote immoral programming? Are YOU part of the problem?

Kevin Smith is quite simply a director one either loves or hates. His films, like “Dogma,” “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back,” and “Clerks,” are most likely notorious among Christian circles for the profanity-laced, sexually-frank dialogue that is Smith’s trademark. So with the release of the PG-13 rated “Jersey Girl,” fans of Smith’s may be wary that the director has softened to appeal to a broader audience and compromised his signature writing style, while Christians may be holding out hope that Smith has created something far more suitable for family audiences.

On that scale, Christians will leave the theater disappointed; his fans will not.

Ben Affleck plays Ollie Trinkie, a music publicist who has it made; a great job, great place in New York City, a beautiful wife, and a baby on the way. Jennifer Lopez is fine in her brief role as his wife Gertrude, who (this is no real secret because the trailers give it away) dies immediately after giving birth to their daughter Gertie. An understandably devastated Affleck returns to his hometown in New Jersey to basically dump the child into the hands of his widowed father, perfectly played with a mix of wry humor and surprising emotional depth by comedian George Carlin.

Affleck wants to return back to the life he loved as a publicist, but the weight of losing a wife, trying to raise a daughter, and staying apace with all his work finally catches up to him during a press conference where he has a meltdown, says what he is really thinking, and becomes the laughing stock of the industry. Dejected and jobless, he returns to live with his father in New Jersey, hoping to find a good job in the town where he will be able to raise his daughter.

The film then takes a seven year jump, where we see Ollie working with his father as a street-sweeper; while certainly not glamorous, Ollie and his father seem to be enjoying themselves. Gertie is now a mouthy precocious seven year old, aptly played by newcomer Raquel Castro.

One night while at the video store (where he is renting an adult video), he meets the lonely clerk Maya, played by Liv Tyler. She questions his rental habits, saying its for a paper, embarrassing Ollie in front of his daughter. Maya follows them home to apologize for her behavior, and asks Ollie to go to lunch with her sometime so she can ask him more questions in private about his rental habits for her paper. I mention this because their lunch conversation then consists solely of sex, pornography, and masturbation in a kind of frank scene Smith fans are more likely to be familiar with. Maya asks Ollie how long its been since he has had sex, and an embarrassed Ollie says he has not been with a women since his wife died. Maya is shocked, and then begs him to let her give him a “mercy jump.”

Maya is a very sexual character who at one point in the movie also mentions Karma, and Hare Krishna, certainly not someone Ollie should be exposing his seven year old to. However, the movie does not focus on a relationship between Ollie and Maya, instead focusing on the relationship that grows between him and his daughter.

Eventually, Ollie must make a choice that could alter everyone’s way of life, which leads to the final, very predictable scenes where Daddy could either be the hero or the goat.

Kevin Smith’s first venture into this genre is a technical success. He finds a way to work his wry dialogue into a movie we have otherwise seen done before. There are some brilliantly written scenes in the movie involving Ollie and his father, and his father and Gertie.

Some scenes and jokes fall flat, or don’t seem to quite go with the rest of the story, and the ending is rather predictable, but overall it is a charming, amusing film.

However, is it one children and teenagers should see? I do not think so. As typical with Kevin Smith movies, “Jersey Girl” contains wall to wall profanity. While there is only one use of the “F” word, there are numerous uses of other words, including constant and very offensive taking of the Lord’s name in vain. (In the opening scene showing children at school sharing stories about their families, one child shares with the class that they think their parents are very religious, because at night they are always yelling “Jesus” as loud as they can. This is just the very beginning.) The Bible makes it very clear that using the Lord’s name in vain is strictly forbidden (Deuteronomy 5:11), but the film seems to think it’s just another word, like “and” or “the,” and to the Christian’s ear it will seem like they use it that often.

The film also contains very frank sexual dialogue, once again a staple of Kevin Smith’s. While it may be toned down a tad to barely fit the PG-13 rating (the film originally received an R-rating, so that should tell you a thing or two), it is still something no Christian parents would want their children absorbing.

“Jersey Girl” may seem cute and harmless, but parents should be very careful and hesitant about letting their children see this one.

Violence: Minor / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Heavy

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Negative—This is the first movie that I have walked out of in many years. It was offensive in every way. In addition to the offensive scenes described in the other reviews we also see a scene were the little girl is showing her private part to a little boy who had just shown his to her. The father who caught them merely advises them that they should get a ring for marriage first. Then the girl ask her father about his privates. This and showing the little girl at the toilet (twice) makes me think that we’re dealing with borderline child pornography. After this and hearing our Lord’s name in vein for the umpteenth time I finally walk out. Do not see this movie!
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive/1]
—Tom Sargent, age 46
Negative—This movie has been advertised as a sweet family movie. It is anything but that. It is disgusting that a 7 year old child is in a movie that is so vulgar. My 26 year old daughter and I squirmed through the first half of this movie, but when it started talking about masturbation and the two main characters running off to have sex, we got up and left the theater.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive/1½]
—LaRayne Day, age 67
Negative—I took my 15 year old son, my 13 year old daughter and her friend to see this movie. At several times I was very close to getting all of them and walking out. I don’t why I didn’t. I felt extremely uncomfortable having my children view this movie. The Lord’s name was taken in vain in several different ways on lots of occasions, and the views of sex and porn was just too much. Profanity was spoken also at an extremely high rate. I would have never taken my children to see this movie had I known. I learned my lesson to always check here for reviews before viewing a movie.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive/3]
—V. Masters, age 49
Negative—My wife, daughter and daughters friend were going to see this movie so I joined in thinking it would be a good movie based on the television ads I had seen. I didn’t do my homework and was very disappointed by the movie and its content. I found the movie to be vulgar and would recommend that you pass on this one, and if you must see it do not take your children to see it. The movie throws all the immorality it can at you along with poor writing, way too much profanity, some pornography, suggestive unwed sexual relation scenes, very adult language and they even stooped so low as to show a frontal view into a female infants stool soiled diaper. This movie was a waste of time and money. As a Christian, I should have seen my George Carlin flag go up but I didn’t. I felt like this movie went out of its way to offend my Christian values.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive/1]
—Alan Gonzalez, San Francisco, age 48
Positive—Kevin Smith has written a real film. His others, while excellent in their own rite, were not mainstream. While I agree that children should not see this film, and that it nearly warrants and R rating, this movie shares many experiences and morals that ARE Christian—the denial of self, the futility of deception, and the unending rewards of being a loving parent. Even the character who is an alcoholic shows maturity and wisdom in parenting advice. And while Christians can say “the movie tends to support…” and rattle off a number of immoral things (like the friends I viewed the movie with), I could easily come back with proof otherwise, strictly from the film. My advice to those who haven’t seen: be very aware of the context of the film and each questionable element within. You will find this film is more moral than you may originally expect.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/4]
—Doug Stuart, age 23
Negative—I honestly think that “Jersey Girl” is a dangerous movie. As I watched it, I experienced the subtle seduction of a “tug at your heart” story—complete with an adorable little girl, being used as a vehicle for some of the crudest sexual situations I have ever witnessed. What was extremely jarring were the use of an infant to display full genital nudity (in feces), and the conversation between father and daughter about his penis. This is outrageous, and I think it flirts with child sexual exploitation, which is certainly an enormous problem in our culture.

Also, the little girl in the movie had a habit of forgetting to flush the toilet. This became a “running joke,” and several times we witnessed her pulling down her panties and sitting on the toilet, pulling them up again etc.

Maybe I’m a conspiracy theorist, but I don’t think that all of the above elements in one movie were accidental. I think this movie was orchestrated to release sexual situations involving children into the mainstream PG-13 viewing audience.

I have walked out of many movies. I felt dirty after leaving this movie. I apologized to God for not walking out. I think I stayed because I was in shock, and also because I wanted to see just how far they were going to take this. A lot of people are going to stay because hey, it’s a family movie about a cute little girl and her dad, and who walks out on that? I think we can expect to see more movies in the future sexualizing children, and that really scares me—especially when they can slip under the radar and get a PG-13 rating.
—P. Ricord, age 56
Negative—I don’t know who would ever say that this movie had any good qualities. The good qualities were far overshadowed by the horribly offensive language that turned up every other word and the plot. J.Lo and Ben meet in the beginning and it shows there relationship to be merely sexual. Later in the film when he meet Liv Tyler, he is at an movie store renting an adult movie with his daughter there. Later he gets together with Liv Tyler and they talk about pornography in a cute a playful tone. When they began to spew on about masturbation, my mom and I walked out. I would not recommend anyone to infiltrate their mind with such disgusting things. Pornography is a true problem in our society today and nothing to make any light of. The movie kept me on the my toes only because I feared God would come back and see me watching this movie. Don’t waste your money and support Hollywood on a movie that has no morals, values, or makes you feel horrible for watching. Keep the faith and don’t let your friends see you walk into this movie. It will be a great testament of you faith.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive/1]
—Catherine, age 18
Positive—The only objectionable thing about this movie is the language, but with George Carlin, what do you expect? Actually, Carlin plays a very likeable very human character. This movie sends a great message, which is that you can’t always get what you “want” but you can still be happy, and it shows the importance of family, which is the main theme of the movie. “J-lo” (Jennifer Lopez) is pretty hard to take, but her Character is only on-screen for about 10 minutes, so it’s not too bad. Don’t be fooled by the commercials either, Liv Tyler does not play a huge role. This movie does have romantic elements, but it’s not really a love story, the “Jersey girl” is actually Gertie, a little girl who along with Ben Affleck and George Carlin makes a great ensemble cast. This was definitely a pleasant surprise.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/5]
—Kat, age 18
Negative—I hated this movie!! I walked out after about an hour. Ben Affleck’s character has the perfect life, a great job, and an incredible pregnant wife (Lopez). But while in labor with their daughter Gertie, dies. He is, of course, devastated, but obviously not too devastated!! A few years later while at the the video store when Gertie is not around, picks up a porn movie. But that’s not all! A few seconds later, cashier (Liv Tyler), asks him if his wife minds him renting that film, when he mentions he doesn’t have a wife, she begins to apologize. He accepts her apology but then she comes to his house (supposedly the apology wasn’t enough). And the next day, when visiting him again, she tries to convince him into sleeping with her, and uses the “well-known” scripture verse, “Man cannot live on porn alone.” By the next scene they were enjoying passionately making-out. I left during that, feeling extremely unclean and questioning myself for not leaving earlier.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive/3]
—Sarah, age 13
Movie Critics
…deserving of an R [instead of PG-13]… could have been a great movie…
—Tom Neven, Plugged In!
…Very strong moral/biblical worldview… but also some liberal attitudes toward sex and morality… with frank discussions of masturbation and pornography…
—Eddie Turner, Movieguide
…coarse language and sexual frankness…
—Mary Draughon, Preview Family Movie and TV Review
…so unstintingly sentimental that sap practically oozes from the screen… a nightmare amalgam of decades of single-dad sitcoms…
—Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer
…Entering the commercial mainstream, indie guy [Director] Kevin Smith loses his way… relying on trite sitcom gimmicks…
—Kirk Honeycutt, The Hollywood Reporter
…A bad movie can be boring, or annoying, or amusing. But this one, sheesh, this just hurts…
—Margaret A. McGurk, Cincinnati Enquirer
…The grating sense of commercial calculation in Jersey Girl consistently undercuts Smith’s fine writing…
—J.R. Jones, Chicago Reader
…sentimental and saccharine… deep, if not rich, in the parent-child bonding that explores the way we sacrifice who we really are for our children’s sake…
—Duane Dudek, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel