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With: Ben Affleck, Liv Tyler, George Carlin, Raquel Castro, Jason Biggs, Stephen Root, Mike Starr, Jennifer Lopez, Will Smith
Written by: Kevin Smith
Directed by: Kevin Smith
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language and sexual content including frank dialogue
Running Time: 102
Date: 03/26/2004

Jersey Girl (2004)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

The 'Girl' Can't Help It

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

For his sixth feature film Jersey Girl, writer/director Kevin Smith grows up a little but still retains a certain naivete and wonder. A New York rock publicist (Ben Affleck) loses his wife (Jennifer Lopez) during childbirth and finds himself the unwitting single parent of a small baby girl. During his stress, he fouls up a Will Smith press conference and loses his job. Seven years later, he tries to make a fresh go of it living with his dad (George Carlin) in New Jersey, working as a city maintenance man, raising his little girl (Raquel Castro) and beginning a new relationship with a cute video clerk (Liv Tyler). Lopez isn't onscreen enough to bring back any unpleasant Gigli memories, but unfortunately, Affleck delivers yet another one of his stiff performances. He's a goofball who too often gets cast in serious, heroic roles. Smith of all people should have known that. Still, the director gets a few laughs in here and there, thanks mostly to smaller roles and cameos by Stephen Root, Matt Damon and Jason Biggs. Smith isn't very adept at shaping or balancing the weepy scenes, but there's a sense that this material comes, unfiltered, straight from his heart. It's an oddly refreshing, moving experience.

DVD Details: I was very kind to this movie the first time around but I made the mistake of watching it again. It's seriously flawed with large logic loopholes and way too many interludes laced with goopy pop music. Bits of it still play very well; Tyler and little Castro bring warmth and grace that Affleck and Lopez simply don't have. It's as if the movie is swerving down a road riddled with potholes, hitting most of them but at times finding smooth patches. In any case, Miramax's new DVD comes with all the requisite extras for anyone who cares: two commentary tracks, a clip from "The Tonight Show," a conversation between Affleck and Smith, a behind-the-scenes special, text interviews, an optional French language track and optional English subtitles.

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