I don’t feel like adding much to the original review except the usual star rating and cover pic update. This movie still makes me bawl uncontrollably. It’s so much more honest than I ever expect, even on the repeat viewings. Ben Affleck truly amazes me in at least two scenes, Raquel Castro is cute as sin, the tone is John Hughes but smarter. And George Carlin, I swear, should’ve won an Oscar.
3rd August 2004:
It’s happened at last, and I knew he could do it, but I didn’t expect it to be with this movie after the reviews I’d read: Kevin Smith has made me cry like a baby. And not just one weepy scene in a movie, not just a, “Jesus that’s sweet, sniff,” like the Holden-confesses-his-love-to-Alyssa scene in Chasing Amy or Alan Rickman consoling Linda Fiorentino in Dogma (”…He begged me to make it all not true. And I’ll let you in on something, Bethany, this is something I’ve never told anyone before… If I had the power, I would have.”) I mean, full on, best movie of the year so far, flat out bawling. Maybe I was just in a crying mood. But the fact remains that for whatever reason, Jersey Girl really struck a chord with me.
Every single actor in this movie does a perfect job. Everyone. Ben Affleck has turned me around completely in my opinion of his acting in easily his best performance (thank God Kevin tricked him into still doing the movie after Daredevil – if you watch his “Evening With” DVD, you’ll hear how it almost didn’t happen if it weren’t for his “moves”). Jennifer Lopez, for the few blinks she’s onscreen, becomes the whole gel that the rest of the movie rests on: if we don’t believe in the perfect life that would’ve happened with Affleck and her and the baby, then the rest of the movie’s for nothing. I for one was convinced enough for the aforementioned bawling to take place. George Carlin – George Carlin for god’s sake – even drew some tears from me. This is Carlin like I’ve never seen him before. He can make a face of disappointment like no other, and there’s lots of faces of disappointment in this movie, all directed at Affleck as he slowly comes round to his responsibilities as a father. And then there’s the kid, Raquel Castro. She’s completely amazing, the chemistry between her and Affleck being the second most important thing after the short time given to setting up Affleck and Lopez as lovers. To name but two of her shining moments: Affleck is forced to address a big crowd of protestors to a job he’s a part of, after Castro has convinced him he can calm them down (it was part of his old job before he got “stuck” with her). He goes to address the crowd, it doesn’t work, then he walks off, very defeatist, till he sees her face, and boy is it a picture. It’s enough to make him go back and pull it off, because he doesn’t want to let his daughter down. Secondly, she sings Sondheim in the “big end” sequence, and not just any Sondheim, “Sweeney Todd”. That, for an 8-year-old, is freaking awesome in my book.
For all its downright mushiness, there’s still plenty of old-fashioned Kevin Smith comedy to be found in Jersey Girl. You’ll never see a baby’s diaper changed quite as hilariously as it’s done in this movie, and the little cameo towards the end nearly had me choking with laughter (okay, I was watching it at 3am in a shared residence, I had to keep the noise down, but it’s still damn funny).
I don’t know what all the fuss was about this movie being “worse than Gigli” etc… some people just want bad movies sometimes, I think. I’ve personally been waiting for Kevin Smith to do a movie like this for quite some time, but like I said, I’m stunned that it turned out to be this one that worked for me. Absolutely one of his best, in my opinion.