Writer-director Kevin Smith’s 2004 comedy stars Ben Affleck, who is warm and appealing as Ollie Trinke, a top New York publicist whose wife Gertrude (Jennifer Lopez) dies in childbirth. He tries to park their baby on his dad (George Carlin), but gets saddled with her at a vital PR launch, blows his top and gets fired.
Stuck in a dead-end manual job for seven years, Affleck sweetly devotes himself to his daughter (Raquel Castro) until old colleague Jason Biggs offers him a chance to return to PR big time…
The acting is all spot on, making this girly single-dad comedy weepie a reliably smooth, pleasant entertainment, though it is a bit soppy and predictable, not at all the sharp, cool and witty thing you would expect for writer-director Smith. He based his script on his experiences as a father. Liv Tyler brings some welcome acid as a shop girl who joins Affleck’s life. They also played a couple in Armageddon (1998).
Smith’s cameo as himself is very welcome and amusing, and Affleck sparks up noticeably here.
Heartless critics at the London press show cheered when the Lopez character died.
After the failure of the Affleck-Lopez movie Gigli (2003), Miramax removed images of Lopez from all promotional spots, afraid people would think it was another vehicle for the stars. Jersey Girl’s release date was pushed back from autumn 2003 to March 26 2004 and the studio played down the presence of Lopez’s character in the movie, revealing her character’s fate.
It was all in vain. On a $35 million budget, it grossed only $25 million in the US and £423,000 in the UK. Affleck was juggling production on this in summer 2002 with Daredevil (2003), which was judged another disappointment.
Biggs is the only major cast member who hails from New Jersey and ironically all his scenes take place in New York!
(C) Derek Winnert 2014 Classic Film Review 1062 derekwinnert.com