Featured Blu-ray Review: Jersey Girl
May 7th, 2013
This movie came out during the height of the Bennifer backlash. Gigli did so poorly with critics and moviegoers that a lot of people were prejudging this film as soon as it was announced. It earned three Razzie nominations; however, Raquel Castro won a Young Artist Award for her performance in the film. Now that the mess surrounding the film is nearly a decade in the past, is it worth checking out? Or would it have failed under the best of circumstances?
The film begins with Gertie reading an essay about her family to her class. We then flashback to 1994 and Ollie Trinké, a big player in the music PR business. He is in love with Gertrude Steiney, a book editor. After a year together, Ollie takes Gertrude back to New Jersey to meet his dad, Bart. Since she didn't run after seeing where he came from, the pair got married and shortly after that, Gertrude gets pregnant. Ollie is a bit of a workaholic and it isn't long before he's ignoring Gertrude in favor of work. This is something he soon regrets, as the pregnancy takes a turn for the worse and Gertrude dies in childbirth.
This obviously causes some serious depression in Ollie and he fights this by putting himself into his work, leaving his father to take care of his newborn daughter, Gertie. When his dad has to return to work and Ollie is left on his own to take care of Gertie, things go poorly. One day, he has a very public meltdown and insults Will Smith. This was pre-Independence Day Will Smith, but this is still an unforgivable sin for a PR agent and he quickly loses his job and has to move back to New Jersey with his father.
We then flash forward to when Gertie was seven years old and Ollie has settle into his new life as a single parent, more or less. While he's driving the street sweeper with his dad, he's still itching to get back into the PR business, even though his prospects are dim. (After he went all "Fresh Prince", he's been blacklisted.) The pair spend their evenings renting movies from a store that rents movie, which is something that existed back in 2004. The clerk there, Maya, gets on Ollie's case when he tries to rent an adult-oriented film. She's a grad student writing her thesis paper on family men who rent porn and want to use him as a case study. He doesn't take too kindly to some of the questions and when Maya fires about about renting porn with a wife and kid, Gertie says her mother is dead. Awkward. After work, Maya comes to Ollie's home to apologize... and to try and convince him to be a case study for her paper. She is persistent and gets him to agree on a lunch date. Or at the very least, doesn't let him say no.
The pair do have good chemistry together, even Gertie recognizes that. Of course, Gertie wants Ollie and Maya to get together, because that would mean staying in New Jersey, while Ollie wants to return to New York City. The itch grows when the water main needs to be repaired and he uses his old PR skills to calm a crowd that is pissed off the street will have to be closed. He loves it and decides now is the time to get back into that life. Of course, this puts him at odds with Gertie, Bart and Maya. Will he chose his old life, or realize he's happy with his new life.
Jersey Girl is a romantic comedy and it suffers from a lot of the same problems most films in the genre suffer from. It is rather predictable and there are some moments that slip from emotional to cloying and the film is also too lightweight to be truly memorable. Also, if you go in expecting a edgy Kevin Smith film, you will probably be a little disappointed. It is not nearly as funny as previous comedies, while it doesn't have the emotional heart that Chasing Amy has. On the other hand, Ben Affleck and Liv Tyler have good chemistry together, as do Ben Affleck and Raquel Castro. George Carlin gives a strong supporting performance and there are some very fun supporting roles and cameos. There are more things that work than those that don't and it is worth checking out, especially if you are a fan of the genre or of Kevin Smith's previous work.
There are not one, but two audio commentary tracks, although they are less audio commentary tracks and more people talking about whatever is on their minds while the movie plays in the background. Fortunately, if you've ever heard a Kevin Smith commentary, you know they are worth checking out. Up next is a making of featurette and a rather substantial interview with Kevin Smith and Ben Affleck, who have great chemistry together. Finally, there's a Roadside Attractions, which was a segment from The Tonight Show. That's a lot for a bargain Blu-ray.
The technical presentation is a little better than the previous Blu-ray. Sure, there still a lot of grain and the colors are not that vivid, but there's not noticeable print damage, for instance. The audio is also a 5.1 surround sound track and while it is not the most active audio around, it is at least something.
As for the price, it is hard to argue with $8.
Jersey Girl is nowhere near as bad as some people make it out to be and it is merely average, like most romantic comedies. If you like the genre, then it is worth checking out. And since the Blu-ray costs just $8, it is worth picking up.
- Submitted by: C.S.Strowbridge
Filed under: Video Review, Jersey Girl