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Warm characters charm in new comedy

Katie Wagner | Wednesday, April 14, 2004

“Jersey Girl” is an extremely realistic PG-13 rated drama/romantic comedy that is overall creatively written, but still contains a predictable romance. This Kevin Smith movie has so many emotionally moving scenes that it requires a box of tissues. If you are in the mood for a feel-good film with excellent acting, you must see “Jersey Girl.” Not only will you cry with the characters, but you’ll even get the pleasure of laughing with them. The actors and story combine to make for one of the most engaging films of the year.Big-shot publicist Ollie Trinke (Ben Affleck) suffers from depression after his wife Gertrude (Jennifer Lopez) dies giving birth to their daughter Gertie (Raquel Castro). Trinke’s attempts to hide his emotions from his employees ultimately lead him to publicly insult several people in his industry and bash Will Smith. These actions force Trinke to leave New York City’s business world and return to his father (George Carlin) and his home in New Jersey. Suddenly, Trinke struggles with dealing with his wife’s death, learning how to be a parent, accepting his new less glamorous career and adjusting to living with his father (George Carlin) all at once. Trinke’s father and a new girlfriend (Liv Tyler) help Trinke get through some of these changes in his life. However, the film focuses mainly on the development of Trinke’s relationship with his daughter. This film’s advertisements are its greatest weakness, in that they are very misleading. While previews present Maya (Liv Tyler) as the embodiment of the film’s title, Gertie is actually the “Jersey girl.” Although Maya also lives in New Jersey, Gertie’s relationship with Trinke is much more central to the film’s plot. Gertie also expresses more love for New Jersey than any other character in this film.The previews also fail to address Gertrude’s death and provide no hints of the serious issues dealt with by the characters in this film that make it so rich. The extent of character development that occurs in less than two hours is quite impressive. Maya is the least developed, but this seems to be done on purpose.Trinke’s distress is very convincing. Affleck’s ability to convey a constant switching from seeming content to being on the verge of a mental breakdown allow viewers to understand the complexity of Trinke’s emotions. Affleck makes Trinke’s confusion seem justifiable. He is able to arouse more emotion than any other actor in this film, with the moments in which he tearfully remembers his dead wife being the most moving.Gertie’s “uncles” are the most consistently funny characters. Some humorous dialogue and Gertie’s school musical performance with her family enhances this film’s comic value.Castro and Carlin’s acting greatly contribute to “Jersey Girl” in several ways. They bring humor and arouse lots of emotion through their interactions with Trinke and each other. Their disagreements with Trinke make this film quite dramatic.Although both Gertie and her grandfather encourage some tears, these tears result from the beauty of the love that these characters give and receive. The warmth of all of the major characters’ relationships with each other makes this film particularly satisfying.