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JERSEY GIRL

A cocky but tender-hearted publicist loses his earthy, vivacious spouse in childbirth. His daughter survives, however, and, as it turns out, she's a pistol.

CAST: Ben Affleck, Liv Tyler, Raquel Castro, Jennifer Lopez, George Carlin, Jeff Anderson, Jason Biggs, Jason Lee, Matt Damon, Will Smith

DIRECTOR: Kevin Smith

"Mr. Smith has made a movie so false and blatantly icky that it's the film equivalent of making goo-goo noises and chucking a baby under the chin for 103 minutes. At the end, all you're left with is drool and a mountain of baby powder…The movie, crammed with wince-inducing contrivances, false notes and fizzled jokes, all leading to a tired race-against-time ending, is so bad that it could stand as a textbook example of what not to do if you're an independent filmmaker flirting with the Hollywood mainstream. At the center of the movie stands Ben Affleck, whose talent has curdled as his tabloid notoriety has spread…Ms. Tyler, whose monotone matches a face that's the equivalent of pasteurized milk, has never been blander. Instead of a presence, she's an absence…Ms. Castro as the too-adorable daughter is the kind of Everygirl who veers between saccharine and cute without bothering to stop at believable." --Stephen Holden, The New York Times

"‘Jersey Girl’ is old-style to the core, the story of a guy who meets a girl, marries her, has her die on him and is forced to somehow soldier on. Complicating matters is the presence of a daughter who serves as an ever-present reminder of his wife, which proves both a blessing and a curse. And to this old chestnut of a formula, Smith adds ... nothing…what is up there on the screen is cute and funny and heartfelt, even if it is unflinchingly formulaic. It's just that we've all come to expect more from Kevin Smith." --Chris Kaltenbach, Baltimore Sun

"Smith -- who's built a cult following on being a juvenile smart aleck with a comic-book vision of the world -- has put sophomoric japes aside to mine reserves of sentiment stirred up, he tells us in the production notes, by the birth of his daughter six years ago. The result is startlingly immature…Smith squanders goodwill by going overboard, smothering an unforgivably hackneyed plot with great gooey dollops of schmaltz. ‘Jersey Girl’ is so cornball and clichéd, it occasionally feels like a parody." --Megan Lehmann, The New York Post

 

"‘Jersey Girl’ is a romantic comedy written and directed by a kinder, gentler Kevin Smith…Lopez is luminous in her few scenes…Liv Tyler (at right, with Ben Affleck) is a very particular talent who has sometimes been misused by directors more in love with her beauty than with her appropriateness for their story. Here she is perfectly cast… It takes a special tone for a woman to convince us she wants to sleep with a man out of the goodness of her heart, but Tyler finds it, and it brings a sweetness to the relationship." --Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

"‘Jersey Girl’ is something that Smith hasn't done before and Affleck has never done well: a cute picture…‘Cute’ is something Smith and Affleck used to rail against. In their best work together, ‘Chasing Amy’ and ‘Mallrats,’ they mercilessly ridiculed anything that smacked of the maudlin, the hackneyed or the commercial. But times and fortunes change, and both men now feel they need to broaden their appeal, even if it means alienating all the cynics and malcontents who brought them here…but did it have to be like this? Watching ‘Jersey Girl’ is akin to being smothered by a basket of warm puppies…It's enough to make the ghost of Frank Capra hurl." --Peter Howell, Toronto Star

"I find Mr. Affleck giving his most appealing performance in years in ‘Jersey Girl,’ a movie superior to the ill-fated ‘Gigli’ in so many ways that its sweetness and coherence seem almost refreshingly oldfashioned …You don’t believe the premise of ‘Jersey Girl’ for a minute, and there is very little about it that I would define as realistic, but considering what it’s up against in the current market, I found it bearable. That’s about as praiseworthy as I get these troubling days at the cinema." --Rex Reed, The New York Observer

"Smith has relied on every hoary cliche of the romantic melodrama in a mundane yarn about a man brought low by tragedy and raised up by the love of a child wise beyond her years…Affleck is buried in the cliches of his role, or worse, having to react to the fatuousness of Tyler. As written, Maya is quirky and sweet. Tyler makes her a grinning nincompoop. It might have been a marketing nightmare, but if Lopez and Tyler had switched roles, it would have been a better movie." --Jack Mathews, The New York Daily News

"Lopez's departure is lamentable: She's never been more naturally funny than she is in her short time here. Affleck shoulders ‘Jersey Girl’ with his typical blend of hubris and reluctance. He seems to be acting through some cloud of shame, as if stardom were something that he didn't want but that keeps happening to him anyway…‘Jersey Girl’ is eloquent and unapologetically cute…Maybe, in forgoing his trademark troublemaking, Smith has sold out. I'd like to think that he has just bought into the pleasures of adulthood." --Wesley Morris, Boston Globe

"‘Jersey Girl,’ the newest Kevin Smith movie, briefly reunites Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez (at left). But that's the least of its problems…‘Jersey Girl’ has a script that doesn't really make sense, and an oddly shifting tone that juggles sexy NC-17 elements and cutesy-poo family stuff. Even so, there's a sweetness and familial warmth about the movie that almost won me over…‘Jersey Girl’ is an oddity, hard to dislike but impossible to buy." --Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune

"The best thing about ‘Jersey Girl'’ is Smith's personality -- his mix of irreverence and real reverence, his coarse but apt turns of phrase, his optimism and honesty…His movie is strong in its details, and yet Smith gets all the big things wrong. The film's overall construction is faulty. Its dramatic situations ring consistently false, and the story is phony as anything off the Hollywood assembly line. And yet, it's sincere phony. Smith is trying to say something heartfelt, even as he's using formulas that are unworthy of him." --Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle

"Smith, always a better writer than a filmmaker, conveys a sense of intimacy and affection in exchanges that might otherwise appear fractious. And he can take credit for Affleck's amiable performance…His ease with characters and clever dialogue helps sustain the film through an otherwise utterly familiar story and pat, predictable ending. For all of its good-natured guff, ‘Jersey Girl’ chooses uncomplicated sentiment over the messy complications of real life." --Sean Axmaker, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

"Kevin Smith (‘Clerks,’ ‘Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back’) has brought so much scrappy wit to movies that you can almost forgive this treacly tale…Smith cuts the goo with laughs, especially when Gertie does a song in school from ‘Sweeney Todd,’ Stephen Sondheim's demonic musical about cannibalism. Affleck is modest and engaging, which keeps the movie out of ‘Gigli’ territory. But it's close." --Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

"Widowed dad, cute kid, Liv Tyler at her most adorable. They might as well give out free puppies at the door…its story of how one man learns to stop worrying and enjoy parenthood clearly is heartfelt. It just doesn't have what even the not-so-great Smith films have always had, which is anything unexpected." --Terry Lawson, Detroit Free Press