A Film Review By Jason L. King
Rating: PG-13 on appeal for language and sexual content including frank dialogue.
Starring:Ben Affleck, George Carlin, Liv Tyler, Jason Biggs
Directed By:Kevin Smith
Putting the past behind you is sometimes the hardest thing to do. And the last few movies I have watched have turned out to be two completely different films but both in a way deal about leaving your past behind. The first is The Girl Next Door, you can click the link in a few minutes, but for now lets talk about leaving your past behind from a Hollywood Standpoint rather than what is in the script.
Director Kevin Smith has been known to be the king in the land of dick and fart jokes. Love him or hate him, the famed Clerks director is either considered a comedic kingpin or a third rate Cheech or Chong, depending on the critic. Smith’s directing style is weak, but has always spiced his films nicely with great dialogue. But after the announcement that his famed Jay and Silent Bob wouldn’t return in his next film, people began to question just how good another film by Kevin Smith could possibly be.
Smith Teamed up once again with the one man he truly believes could play anything, Ben Affleck. Affleck is the epitome of great acting according to Smith, and could successfully play the Shark in Jaws 3 and win an academy award. (It’s funny how the academy and most of the general public doesn’t seem to share Smiths’ vision) Affleck has appeared in nearly all of Smith’s films, But rarely ever as the Central character. Affleck’s personal life propelled him into superstardom, and after his departure from Jenny from the Block many people have found themselves Afflecked-out. In fact, I have heard many people say that they won’t attend Jersey Girl since they are so over-exposed to Ben Affleck. I have a feeling that if anyone wished they could leave their high profile life behind, Ben Affleck has to be doing a lot of wishing.
Jersey Girl is the story of Oliver Trinke. Oliver is a publicist for the biggest stars, and his life is right on track to being perfect. He has a great job, and a great wife, a great house, and a newborn on the way. But when his wife dies during childbirth, Oliver’s life is flipped upside down. Forced to move home to live with his father, Oliver tries his hand at the hardest thing he has ever faced: being a single parent.
Affleck really tugs at your emotions in this film. His acting is never really superior in most of his films, but still he has his shining moments. Although it wasn’t Oscar quality, it was still shining. For those people who suffer from Affleck over-exposure, I could try and tell you that it will be ok, and that Jersey Girl is safe, but the plain and simple truth is that Affleck is the center point of this film. But if you can get over your fears of Affleck you can find out that this film works because he does it with a style that works really well for him. Affleck really does a great job of becoming that character rather than being Ben Affleck, once you see past that you should be just fine.
Writer and Director Kevin Smith announced that this is one his personal pieces and wasn’t going to be for everyone. The statement frightened a lot of his avid fans, and yet I’m not sure why. As a director you grow and it is evident that Smith would really like to grow beyond the Dick and Fart Jokes he is famed for. While this may not be what his die-hard fans wanted to hear, this is the choice he made, whether they like it or not. Luckily as a gifted writer Smith is making the transition with ease. His story is simple and heartfelt, and really does a great job of being “a sweet” little treat. His dialogue seems almost lack luster however, and at many points seems watered down from his previous films. His directing style is still choppy just like before, and it is evident that he really doesn’t have any style at all at times.
In the end though, whether you were a Kevin Smith Fan or not, go check the film out. Smith and Affleck are testing some new waters; there is no harm in that. Sometimes the end result of trying new things turns out to be better. Maybe it is time for Smith to leave his dick and fart jokes behind, and maybe this film will end the Bennifer saga for Affleck. Only time will tell. But unfortunately this film will not stick around in theater for a long time. If you haven’t seen this lighthearted, wholesome, feel good comedy, then I think you are missing out.