Jersey Girl (2004) - Weasello Rating: {>>>>} (Suprisingly Good)
Please note that this review is laden with spoilers.

Body count: 1 (pretty high for a movie dubbed as a Romantic Comedy)

One-sentence plot summary: A borderline romantic comedy taking you on an emotional roller-coaster as the bachelor dad and his daughter try to figure out their futures.

Plot Outline: This movie is not to be confused with the movie of the same name, released in 1992. This would be the 2004 release directed by Kevin Smith.

Ollie and Gertrude (Bennifer, respectively) are a somewhat powerful couple living the high life in New York City, and we are treated to a few opening scenes of their lovey-dovey life in the Big Apple. When Gertrude gets pregnant, the movie really begins.

Sadly, Gertrude dies while giving birth to the their later-named-daughter "Gertie," and after an emotional (and disgusting, at points) downward spiral, father and daughter end up living with Grandpa (Bart) in New Jersey.

The rest of the movie is a tale of the bachelor dad trying to raise his daughter, while trying to come to grips with his own life and how it is changing.

In the end, Ollie ends up getting a new girlfriend (the cute one that works at the video store) and settles down to live a "quiet life" in the suburbs, giving up his fame and power from the big city... All for the sake of his daughter.

What I Thought: Kevin Smith usually doesn't make movies like this, and in fact he's been the subject of some mockery for this film. But, for a brief moment, suspend the thought that Kevin was behind this movie. Don't think "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back." Don't think campy comedy that relies on naught but one-line-jokes in rapid succession.

Think of Kevin Smith for what he truly is - an amazing writer who can take any subject in any context and write well.

This story is a funny, emotionally moving film, written in an excellent manner and it never slows down. You don't have to deal with the long, drawn-out yawn-inducing scenes. Of course, "emotionally moving" seems to be a bit heavy now that movies like "The Passion" have come out. But you get what I'm trying to say, right?

I'm not a huge fan of this genre of movie, but I have to say that this is likely the best movie in the genre that I have seen. Of course, now it makes me want to have kids, but that's besides the point.

This movie also has a good message. A moral, if you will... And the tagline says it all. "Forget who you thought you were, and just be who you are." A lot of people today are striving to be something that they thought they'd like to be, and in the end, they'll all end up unhappy. I'm a little sick of movies trying to push on us the same old values - "Be kind to your family." "Respect your elders." Can't the moral be original for a change? Well, in this movie, yes.

All in all, the movie was wonderfully acted, had an excellent message that isn't just another load of tripe, and the score, scenery, casting, and everything else is definitely worthy of the 4 out of 4 I'm giving this movie.

I wouldn't say it's so amazing and awesome that everyone must own it - but I did enjoy watching it, and wouldn't mind seeing it again.

Critical Acclaim: Hoo-boy, I don't think the critics agree with me. Ebert agrees with most of what I say, but Roeper and hundreds of other critics are all starting to say the same thing: tired, re-hashed, lame-old romantic comedy plot.

What gets me is that this is better than the other romantic comedies out there - it's just that most people are all looking for Jay.

Interesting Notes:
  • The movie's advertising used to have Jennifer Lopez plastered all over it - I've seen posters, commercials, trailers, radio spots - everything had a line from J-Lo. Since the failure of Gigli, however, Kevin Smith had J-Lo removed from all advertising, and her name was even taken off of the "starring:" blurb on the bottom of posters. Kevin didn't want the movie to be touted as "Just another Bennifer movie."
  • The movie was based off of Kevin Smith's own experiences as a father.
  • Due to Ben Affleck's work on Daredevil at the same time, production was put on hold in mid-2002, delaying the movie several months.
  • Several scenes were shot at Paulsboro High School, and as a "reward" for the excellent time he had filming there, Kevin Smith showed a special screening to the school. The school also enjoyed Kevin's company, and named the street in front of the school after him - "Kevin Smith Way."
Lead roles: Directed by: Kevin Smith

Writing credits: Kevin Smith

Tagline: Forget about who you thought you were, and just accept who you are.
Sources: The oh-so-wonderful IMDB, my head, and the theatre.