Has fatherhood tamed, civilized, and domesticated Kevin Smith? Or has a daily routine of cleaning up after his baby and changing her diapers given the director of Clerks and Dogma new ideas for his special brand of coarse humor? The answer to both questions is "yes."
In many ways, Jersey Girl is a typical Kevin Smith movie, from the celebrity cameos and Star Wars references to the abundant four-letter words and Catholic imagery. But in several other ways, the film marks an interesting departure for Smith. It is his first PG-13 film, and it is the first of his movies that does not feature the sex-obsessed pothead Jay or his sidekick Silent Bob. It is also the first of Smith's films since the boy-meets-lesbian romance Chasing Amy (1997) that aspires to something resembling genuine human drama—and, at times, despite Smith's weaknesses as a filmmaker, Jersey Girl is actually quite touching. If this film is marked by anything, it is by Smith's love for his daughter, and for his family.
Off-screen love of another sort is captured in the film's opening scenes. Ben Affleck, who has been in every Smith film since 1995's Mallrats, plays Ollie Trinke, a successful Manhattan-based music publicist who falls in love with and marries Gertrude Steiney, played by Jennifer Lopez—Affleck's real-life girlfriend-at-the-time. It is, of course, pretty much impossible to watch their scenes together as though all the tabloid coverage had never happened (just as it is impossible to hear Lopez's character worry about appearing fat next to famous singers without remembering that Lopez is one herself), but seeing these two characters go at it is still a little like watching two friends make out in the middle of a party;—you feel like ...1
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