Review: “Jersey Girl”

Kevin Smith may not have ‘sold out’ but the boy has sure gone mainstream. Smith’s films have proven a mixed bag with one bonafide cinematic classic (“Chasing Amy”) and some decent comedies like “Mallrats”, “Jay & Silent Bob…” and “Dogma” which had about half an hour of brilliant material mixed in with all too much filler and all too little point.

‘Jersey’ is Smith’s most even-tempered film to date with no real high or low points, rather a steady sentimental little drama which takes some big logic leaps but has its heart in the right place. Those looking for a light sweet distracting story of family will find this quite satiating so long as they don’t think about it too much.

Those who put it under more scrutiny however will quickly see through the movie’s rather basic construction. Aside from the involvement of the three key stars and Smith’s penchant for brash clever dialogue, this is TV movie material at best. Assorted plot cornerstones from the way Affleck loses his job, changes his attitude, and finally his unluckiness in work and love in the present may make for sweet cinema but are hardly credible in the real world.

All sorts of moments and scenarios are clumsily put together in a way that yields implausible results such as the finale and a large and admittedly emotional fight scene. To his credit Smith knows his performers with all the actors doing superb work. Affleck is at his most amiable and charming here, more than I think he ever has been.

His pairing with the always reliable Tyler creates an interesting relationship one wishes had been further explored. Carlin playing it straight is nice support, Lopez and a certain other music/acting star play it nicely humble in their short cameos, even the kid Castro is impossible not to adore. The film’s cinematography is nice and warm and all other production credits are solid all around.

People who find Smith’s work too brazen or fringe will really fall for this picture, likewise those easily pleased by this genre will enjoy. Hardcore fans may be very upset by Smith doing something so ordinary and even mundane. The man knows how to do humour, dialogue and work with actors. Had he been as ambitious and original with his story then this would’ve been great. As it’s, its a sweet little time passer that’s light on the laughs thanks to a slight acid tounge, but cute nonetheless.