Oliver "Ollie" Trinké (Ben Affleck) is a powerful media publicist in New York City who 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 a month off from work to care for her, but returns so that his son is forced to live up to his responsibility as a parent. Under the stress of a botched diaper change and a baby who will not stop crying, Ollie trashes his client (Will Smith, for his soon-to-be released film Independence Day) in front of assembled reporters. The outburst costs him his job, so he moves in with his father in New Jersey. He eventually apologizes for ignoring his daughter, and attributes his public outburst to his grief.
Blacklisted by all of New York City's public relations firms, Ollie has to work as a civil servant in the borough where he now lives with his father. Seven years later, 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 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 prospect of moving to New York creates tension among 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. A few days later he and Gertie finally patch things up, 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 man he trashed at his public outburst years before. Smith 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 moment. 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.
- Ben Affleck as Oliver "Ollie" Trinké
- Liv Tyler as Maya
- Raquel Castro as Gertie Trinké
- George Carlin as Bart Trinké
- Jennifer Lopez as Gertrude Steiney
- Stephen Root as Greenie
- Mike Starr as Block
- Jason Biggs as Arthur Brickman
- Will Smith as Himself (uncredited)
- Jason Lee as PR Exec. 1
- Matt Damon as PR Exec. 2
- S. Epatha Merkerson as Doctor
- Paulie Litt as Bryan (as Paulie Litowsky)
- Harley Quinn Smith as Trace Colelli (uncredited)
- Matthew Maher as Delivery Guy (as Matt Maher)
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 to have a part in the film as "Delivery Guy" with the memorable "crotch rot" line, but Kevin Smith had temporarily severed ties with him as part of a "tough love" approach to get him to quit drugs. The role was given to Matthew Maher.
Betty Aberlin, best known as Lady Aberlin of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood’s Neighborhood of Make-Believe, portrays Gertie's teacher, a nun. She portrayed a nun in Smith's Dogma.
The film's budget included $10 million for Affleck's salary, and $4 million for Lopez.
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.
The film was primarily shot in Highlands, New Jersey. Academy Award-winning Vilmos Zsigmond, the film's director of photography, was said by Smith to have been "an ornery old cuss who made the crew miserable".
Paulsboro, New Jersey, which served as one of the shooting locations of the film, prompted the town to rename a street near its high school after him. Scenes that were shot there include those in its Municipal Building, Clam Digger Bar, and High School. Also cut from the film, are scenes in Paulsboro's St. John's Church and Little League Field. The scene in the church was 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, reducing her part into a cameo, due to concern over the poor box office reception of Gigli.
The film is Smith's first to have received a PG-13 rating. It was originally given an R rating due to the dialogue with Ollie and Maya discussing an adult thing in the diner, but that decision was overturned.
An extended cut was shown at Kevin Smith's private film festival Vulgarthon in 2005 and 2006. The extended version included a much longer extension of the Jennifer Lopez section of the film, 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. 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".
The film is the first major theatrical release to include 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 City."
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.
The film "bombed" at the box office, making only $25.2 million domestic and $10.8 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 41% of critics giving positive reviews, summarizing the consensus as, "Full of cloyingly sentimental cliches." Smith was quoted saying his film was "not for critics".
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
Kevin Smith's reaction to Jersey Girl after its failure was dour. 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". In an interview from the Clerks II DVD, Smith noted "All these people were just trashing this movie's stars instead of looking at the movie itself. I get that a lot of people didn't like it but dude, I spent two years of my life on that movie."
- Jersey Girl at Box Office Mojo
- Jersey Girl at Rotten Tomatoes
- Jersey Girl at Metacritic
- Radio Interview with Kevin Smith from FBi 94.5 Sydney Australia
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