Jersey Girl (2004 film)

Jersey Girl (2004 film)
Jersey Girl

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Kevin Smith
Produced by Scott Mosier
Bob Weinstein
Harvey Weinstein
Written by Kevin Smith
Starring Ben Affleck
Liv Tyler
Raquel Castro
George Carlin
Jason Biggs
Jennifer Lopez
Will Smith
Cinematography Vilmos Zsigmond
Editing by Scott Mosier
Kevin Smith
Studio View Askew Productions
Beverly Detroit
Close Call Films
Distributed by Miramax Films
Toshiba Entertainment
Release date(s) March 26, 2004 (2004-03-26)
Running time 102 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $35 million
Box office $36,098,382

Jersey Girl is a 2004 American comedy-drama film written and directed by Kevin Smith. It stars Ben Affleck, Liv Tyler, Raquel Castro, George Carlin, Jason Biggs, Jennifer Lopez and Will Smith. At $35 million it was Smith's biggest-budget project to date ($10 million of which was Ben Affleck's salary,[1] $4 million to Jennifer Lopez's salary[2]), but was a financial disappointment at the box office[3] and received poor reviews. It is also the first film by Smith not to be set in the View Askewniverse or to feature appearances by Jay and Silent Bob.



Oliver "Ollie" Trinké (Ben Affleck) is a powerful media publicist in New York City who tragically loses his wife, Gertrude (Jennifer Lopez), in childbirth. To avoid his grief, he buries himself in his work and ignores his new daughter, Gertie, while his father, Bart (George Carlin), takes 30 sick days in a row to care for her. Hoping to get him to live up to his responsibility as a parent, Bart suddenly returns to work one day, leaving him to deal with Gertie. Under the stress of a botched diaper change and a baby who will not stop crying, he trashes his client (Will Smith, for his soon-to-be released film Independence Day) in front of the assembled reporters and even lashes out at them. The public outburst costs him his job and he moves in with his father in New Jersey. He is humbled by the experience and finally looks upon Gertie with approval and conviction, saying he is sorry for ignoring her, he just misses Gertrude and did not expect her to leave so suddenly. He promises to be the best dad he can.

Now blacklisted by all the New York public relations firms, Ollie tries unsuccessfully for years to get work as a publicist, whilst also working as a civil servant in the borough where he now lives to get by. Gertie (Raquel Castro), now in elementary school, often coaxes him to rent films to watch. At the video store, they meet Maya (Liv Tyler), one of the store's clerks, whose uninhibited probing into Ollie's love life almost leads to them having casual sex. She soon becomes a good friend and part of their lives.

As part of his job in the borough, Ollie speaks to a group of outraged citizens to win over their approval for a major public works project that will temporarily close a street in the neighborhood. His successful and enjoyable interaction with the crowd leads him to realize how much he misses the public relations work. He contacts Arthur (Jason Biggs), his one-time protégé, who sets up a promising interview.

The real prospect of moving to New York creates tension between Ollie, Gertie, Bart, and Maya, especially when he says that his interview is on the same day as Gertie's school talent show. She yells at him, saying she hates him and that she wishes he had died instead of her mom. He claims he hates her right back, and says she and Gertrude took his life away and he just wants it back. He immediately regrets it and tries to apologize, but the damage is done and she pushes him away and runs to her room, crying. He tries to clear his head by visiting Gertrude's grave, but it saddens him even more. A few days later he and Gertie apologize to each other, and she accepts the fact that they will be moving to New York. While waiting to be interviewed, he has a chance encounter with Will Smith (playing himself), the very man he trashed at his public outburst years before. He has no idea who Ollie is, but their conversation about work and children makes him decide to sacrifice the former for the latter.

Ollie is able to make it to Gertie's Sweeney Todd performance at the last second. The film ends with him, Gertie, Bart, Maya, and the rest celebrating at the bar. He and Maya hint at possible feelings for each other before being interrupted by Gertie. He holds her and says that they are staying in New Jersey because he did not take the job. She asks why he did so if he loved it so much. He says that he thought he did, but he loved his new life more because being a father to her was the only thing that he was ever really good at.


Jersey Girl was the first Kevin Smith film that did not feature Jay and Silent Bob. Jason Mewes, the actor who played Jay in the View Askewniverse films, was scheduled to have a non-Jay part in the film as Ollie's assistant Arthur, but Kevin Smith had temporarily severed ties with him as part of a "tough love" approach to get him to quit drugs. At the time, Mewes also had a bench warrant for his arrest in New Jersey for missing a mandatory court appearance on a possession charge.[citation needed]

Betty Aberlin, best known to generations as Lady Aberlin of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood’s Neighborhood of Make-Believe, portrays Gertie's teacher, a nun. She previously portrayed an unnamed nun in Smith's Dogma.

In the original draft of the script, Bruce Willis rather than Will Smith was the cause of (and eventual resolution to) Ollie's problems. Smith wrote the first fifty pages of the script with Bill Murray and Joey Lauren Adams in mind.[4]

The film is Affleck's and Tyler's second film together and which both characters develop a romantic relationship. Their first film together was Armageddon.


Smith, who is often criticized for the look of his films, was initially excited to have Academy Award-winning Vilmos Zsigmond as the film's director of photography. However, he has since referred to Zsigmond as "an ornery old cuss who made the crew miserable" and said that he would rather stay in his "comfort zone" with those with whom he chooses to work.[5]

The film was primarily shot in Highlands, New Jersey.[6]

Paulsboro, New Jersey, which served as one of the shooting locations of the film, thanked Smith for his contribution to the town by renaming a street near its high school "Kevin Smith Way." Scenes that were shot there include those in its Municipal Building, Clam Digger Bar, and High School. Other scenes, that were cut of the film, included scenes in Paulsboro's St. John's Church and Little League Field. The scene in the church was supposed to show the marriage between Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck's characters. However, it was cut out of the film shortly after the split between them and scenes reshot, cutting her part into a cameo, for fear of a public backlash over the poor box office reception of Gigli.[7][8]


It is Smith's first (and to date only) PG-13 rated film. It was originally given an R rating by the MPAA due to the dialogue with Ollie and Maya discussing masturbation in the diner, but this rating was appealed and overturned.

An extended cut was shown at Kevin Smith's private film festival Vulgarthon in 2005 (and was shown again at the 2006 festival). Cut scenes that featured in the extended version included a much longer extension of the Jennifer Lopez section of the film that fleshed out the characters more, Ben Affleck's full speech in the city hall, a longer ending, and some music changes.

On the film's audio commentary, Smith stated that a longer version of the film would be released within the next year. As of September 2007, no announcement has been made. In a recent interview, Smith said that the company has now very little interest to put out the DVD, but saying they'll probably release it in a few years. At a Q&A session in Vancouver in early 2009, it was revealed that a release of the extended cut on DVD and Blu-ray Disc is "very possible".[9]

On the second episode of the podcast "Blow Hard with Malcolm Ingram", Smith tells a story of Malcolm sending him lyrics to Landslide by Fleetwood Mac trying to apologize for an earlier incident. He was so touched by the email that he included this song in the film's soundtrack[10]


The film "bombed" at the box office,[11] making only $25.2 million domestic and $10.6 million overseas against a $35 million dollar budget and a $15 million dollar marketing campaign.

Critical response was mixed, with some critics panning it as formulaic, though some critics (including Roger Ebert) commended Kevin Smith for trying different things in his film career. Rotten Tomatoes review aggregator yielded a verdict of rotten, with only 41% of critics giving positive reviews, summarizing the consensus as, "Full of cloyingly sentimental cliches."[12] In response to negative reviews following the film's release, Kevin Smith was quoted saying his film was "not for critics".[13]

The film was nominated for three Razzie Awards. Worst Actor for Ben Affleck, Worst Supporting Actress for Jennifer Lopez, and according to the press release, "Ben Affleck & EITHER Jennifer Lopez OR Liv Tyler" for Worst On-Screen Couple. Raquel Castro won a Young Artist Award for Best Performance in a Feature Film - Young Actress Age Ten or Younger for her performance and the film was nominated for Best Family Feature Film - Comedy or Musical losing to Christmas with the Kranks[14]

Kevin Smith's reaction to Jersey Girl after its failure had been dour. Kevin Smith references this film during his cameo appearance in Degrassi: The Next Generation; He jokingly tells Paige Michalchuk, who he cut out of his fictional film Jay and Silent Bob Go Canadian, Eh!, that he cut Lopez out of half of Jersey Girl and wanted to cut Affleck out too "but then it just would have been that little kid".[citation needed] During the ending credits of Clerks II, Smith references the film, thanking it for its existence despite being disliked by critics: "to Jersey Girl for taking it so hard in the ass and never complaining."[citation needed] He references it again during an episode of Comedy Central's Reel Comedy when asked what the take-away message of Zack and Miri Make a Porno should be: "Don't make Jersey Girl." When asked recently why he kept all his Jersey Girl posters hung up in his bathroom, he replied "Flick went in the shitter, so the posters followed suit."[15] In a recent interview, he summed up his feelings on the film by saying "I think Jersey Girl was just one of those flicks that was the wrong time, the wrong guy, the wrong everything." In an interview from the Clerks II DVD, Smith noted "All these people were just thrashing this movies' stars instead of looking at the movie itself. I get that a lot of people didn't like it but dude, I spent 2 years of my life on that movie."[16]

Despite its critical and commercial failure, the 2004 film is notable as the first major studio theatrical release to make a 9/11 joke. (When Gertie asks to see Cats, Ollie refuses on the grounds that the long-running musical is "the second-worst thing to happen to New York.")[17]


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