Jersey Girl

Cover Art and Menu: 6/10
Boring. I’ve not got much kindness for these cut and pasted covers. I won’t growl too much, but it could have been a lot more exciting than it is. Why put that American Pie dude in our faces? Geez.

Extras & Features: 8/10

  • Feature Commentary with Kevin Smith & Ben Affleck – What can I say? These guys are nuts, but funny as you-know-what. Watch/listen to these commentaries if you have the time. They’re both great fun.
  • Feature Commentary with Scott Mosier & Jason Mewes – Ditto from what I just said about the other commentary. The best part is Mewes and Smith talk openly about Mewes’ addiction and recovery from heroin. It might not seem like a cheery topic, but they talk about it so honestly it makes for a good listen.
  • From Mallrats to Jersey Girl Kevin & Ben talk shop – Excellent discussion with two of the key players who have built the Smith empire. They discuss their relationship from start to present. They are as funny as you can imagine, and a bit more sarcastic than you thought they could be.
  • Roadside Attractions featuring Kevin Smith – A great addition to the DVD. They have gone all out to add these featured bits from the Tonight Show. Taped segments of Kevin traveling around the country taking a look at everything from alligator wrestlers to side show restaurant performers.
  • Behind the scenes special – A brief discussion with Smith, his wife and Affleck. A few moments behind the scenes on the set of Jersey Girls including cast and crew. In the immortal words of Nicole Richie, “loves it”.
  • Text interviews with cast and crew – Don’t get your undies in an uproar. You might have to read a bit but it’s really good stuff if you are a Smith fan. I like the whole article, but I do agree with some critics that it could have been put on the website or printed on a cool insert.

The Movie: 8/10:
Keep in mind that I am a Kevin Smith fan. I have liked every single movie he has written and directed from Clerks to Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. I could say that Jay/Bob was not my favorite, but I find a lot to love in every Smith cinematic offering. Does that mean I’m brainwashed? Whatever. If you like Kevin Smith movies in a reasonable movie fan kind of way you will appreciate Jersey Girl and all it’s more grown up themes. If you are a Kevin Smith fan in the “I’m a freak fan boy and my mind is so tightly sealed new ideas couldn’t leak in if they tried” mind set and you just can’t handle a movie that has themes of parenthood, falling in love, relationships, etc., well, I would have to say you might not dig this post Gigli, Semi Jen-Ben flick. Oh yea, that’s something you might want to put out of your head right now. Don’t dislike the movie because it’s got Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck. Yes, that is a direct order. Do not judge a book by it’s cover, oh wait, Jennifer Lopez mysteriously didn’t make the cover of the DVD (or the movie poster for that matter). Just crack open that closed little mind of yours and watch the movie as if you have never even heard of those two media prima donnas. It’s for the best.

What does this movie have to offer a Kevin Smith fan? I’ll speak from my own perspective and say it takes some of the very best qualities of Chasing Amy and blends in a smattering of a old school Hollywood family drama/comedy. The Chasing Amy elements would be the well developed relationships between certain characters. There are several to choose from, like aging father/son relationship, the young father/daughter relationship, a boy meets girl situation, young man and his career, and last but not least, handsome male movie star and his love for his very white teeth. Ok, the teeth thing was just me fixating on Ben Affleck’s overly white set of pearly WHITES. I think they started bugging me about two years ago when he was transformed from up and coming young actor to Hollywood’s golden boy. Annoying at best, nearly fatal to any hint of admiration of him I had gained over the years. Jersey Girl did make me sit up and take notice of his ever present charm and charisma though. I don’t dislike him as a performer as much as I dislike the product tinsel town has made of him. But that is neither here nor there. He’s good in Jersey Girl, with all of his quirks and smirks, smiles, grins, and heavily played emotional moments. He has what it takes to carry off a role like this, a young man struggling with young man issues. Time will tell if he becomes a talent to be reckoned with as he gets past the roles that can show case his own personality and put him to the test to break away from good looking leading man, maybe even step into a grungy bad guy role. I’ll be waiting for that one.

As I mentioned before there are throwbacks to the old school Hollywood family drama/comedy around every corner in Jersey Girl. A young man loses his beautiful wife while she is giving birth to their daughter and he is forced to raise her on his own. On top of that classic scenario we’ve got the rough but lovable lonely father/grandfather, the cute local college girl infatuated with sex, an incredibly adorable seven year old kid, and moments that include uncomfortable discussions about girls and boys showing each other their “parts”, a man so in love with his wife he has not been with another woman for seven years, (touching and oh so sweet) and the list goes on.

It’s not packed with edgy dialogue like Chasing Amy. Then again the subject matter doesn’t call for it. This is a straight on life comedy about a man learning the importance of family. There is no need for Banky or Brody to pop in with some ten minute spiel about whatever Banky and Brody love to spiel about. There are reasonable conflicts between the characters and reasonable resolutions. Nothing overly cynical or pessimistic is hidden anywhere. It’s not all rosy and sweet, but Smith might have set aside that youthful piss and vinegar attitude for a while to write and direct this movie. Of course, in Smithian style, under the surface we are treated to many cultural comments and references like the role that renting movies plays in a parent’s life, a single man and his porn, the shallowness of Hollywood spin doctoring, Will Smith’s rise from The Fresh Prince to a major movie star in the past ten years, and on and on.

In short, this is a story Kevin Smith wanted to tell and it’s well worth adding to the growing collection of his films that are already in your head, not to mention on your shelf. It’s touching but not sappy, and it’s funny but not with all the in-jokes from the ViewAskew universe or biting wit that makes Smith’s over movies so appealing to many of us. I won’t say it’s simple. (but it is) I won’t lie, there’s nothing to figure out here folks. Just let the comedic goodness wash over you like a salty splash from a show at the local oceanic water park. Or whatever other salty substance you want to imagine. Watch yourself!

Value: 6/10
Not a great value this time around for Kevin’s DVD offerings. I was disappointed to see that this version of the Jersey Girl DVD is going for no less than $20 online. I know it’s got a couple of good extras, but in the future they are bringing out an extended version of the movie (hopefully) with more extras and commentaries, so why bleed us dry the first time around? I’m a fan though so I can’t have just part of the Smith collection. I would wait until Christmas time when this puppy might just drop a few notches on the cash board and be an affordable stocking stuffer for that chick-flick loving person in your life.

Overall Score 8/10