Reviewed by: Jonathan Rodriguez
|Featuring:||Ben Affleck (Daredevil, Gigli, Pearl Harbor)
Liv Tyler (The Lord of the Rings, Dr. T and the Women, Onegin, Armageddon)
George Carlin (Scary Movie 3, Dogma)
Jason Biggs (American Wedding, Anything Else, American Pie 2)
|Director:||Kevin Smith (Dogma)|
|Producer:||Scott Mosier, Kevin Smith|
What are the consequences of sexual immorality? Answer
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