Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Jersey Girl is the movie we saw just now. In many ways a sign in the crossroads for some of the actors and crew involved in the movie. This the first seriously sentimental movie of Writer/Director Kevin Smith, the movie that Ben Affleck hopes would make people forget about Gigli, and the last movie that Bennifer would be appearing in. Might I also add that actress Liv Tyler climbs 10 notches up in my book for wearing those librarian glasses that made her so cool and adorable. That I would borrow her line, "I'm kinda crushin' on you right now," and say that to her.

Ahem. The story revolves around Oli Trinke (Ben Affleck), a very successful spin doctor for pop music artists. He's so successful he has a hundred people working under him. He met his would-be wife Gertrude Steiney (Jennifer Lopez), a book editor, sometime later and after a year of dating took her back to New Jersey and introduced her to his pop. He took an instant liking to her one-of-the-boys attitude and soon enough Oli and Gertie were married. But there seemed to be no stopping the ever-busy Oli from running around even when his wife became pregnant and even when she died of aneurysm as a result of the delivery he coped with the problem in the only way he knows: bury himself in work. His father in New Jersey agreed to take care of the baby at first but gave an ultimatum when it seemed there’s no taking Oli off from work and paying attention to his daughter, Gertie (Raquel Castro). Oli had no choice but to bring his daughter to the media covered event at Hard Rock Café where he dissed Will Smith (who was then just starting on his career as an actor). With his career now in ruins he went back home to Jersey to lick his wounds. While there, his father appealed to his sense of humanity and told him to stand up and try move on with their lives. That he did with a promise to his daughter beside her cradle that he would be the best dad in the whole world.

Fast forward seven years and he's shown working for his father's garage as part of the city's Maintenance Department. His daughter comes home from school and asks him to take her to watch a Broadway show since the kids were required by school to perform a scene from that show onstage as part of their recital. Oli excitedly takes the opportunity to show her the highlights of New York to show here where daddy spent most of his life. Also, they get to meet Maya (Liv Tyler), the cute and charming clerk on duty, while browsing through a local video shop. Given his quirky accidental choice for a video tape, Maya badgers him for an interview for her college paper about the behavioral patterns of dads and their choice of gratification. Feelings started to grow between the two as they continued to see each other and in spite of their pronouncements that theirs was just a platonic relationship. But even after all these years of domestic bliss the call of the corporate world was strong and he tried many times to come back into the exclusive circle where he once ran. And each time his application was turned down until he managed to wrangle an interview with one of the most successful media companies in New York with the help of his old assistant, Arthur Brickman (Jason Biggs). But a smooth transition to his old haunt wasn't meant to be. If he chose to relocate back to New York, there is that chance he could get back in the groove and recover his exciting old life BUT he risks breaking the hearts of both his daughter and Maya and lose out on his one chance for happiness in life. One could pretty much predict what happens in the end but the ending is something to look forward to.

As it is, Mr. Smith's not known for making movies with "serious" themes so I think this movie serves as a sort of "coming of age" for him. What's also interesting here is the underlining topic he chose for this movie which talks about husbands and widowers remaining faithful to their wives (or dead wives for the latter) as was touched by Mr. Smith in an interview with Newsweek a couple of months before:
All right, here's the thing. I've been married five years. Considering my body shape, I had the good fortune to have enough sex with different women before I got married. Once I got married, I realized I never wanted to (bleep) anyone else for the rest of my life. Even if my wife died. It's not just physical, though that's fantastic. Psychologically, I am tied to her. When you're really committed to somebody, forget it, man. It's impossible to think about (bleeping) somebody else.
* Interview excerpt was copied from MSNBC

I haven't heard any reactions yet from his fans but I'm sure some of them would be pretty dumbfounded by that. I mean this is Kevin Smith, the guy who glorified bachelorhood and the perks that come with it (you know what I'm talking about here). The guy who redefined the word "geek" to mean someone cool! The writer behind "Daredevil" comics and blockbuster indie flicks like "Mallrats", "Clerks", and "Jay and Silent Bob" series that celebrate geekiness in all its glory (and gory)! This guy came up with a serious film that upholds the importance of the responsibilities of what being a good father and husband is all about! Who woulda thought? Of course there are still some words that are vintage Kevin Smith, personally I think he could have at least toned it down some more. Still I'd like to commend Mr. Smith for delivering the goods much to the surprise and delight of his fans like myself.

* Check out also the review in Hollywood Jesus for more insightful reactions to this great movie.

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