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Jersey Girl Review

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After his wife (Lopez) dies in childbirth, New York publicist Ollie's (Affleck) subsequent breakdown loses him his career and lifestyle, leaving him stuck in New Jersey with his father and daughter (Castro). A flirtation with a younger woman (Tyler) puts his life back on track, but can his new existence possibly meld with his old?

★★★★★

Poor old Kevin Smith. Through no fault of his own, his latest has been saddled with anti-hype as Gigli 2, thanks to the presence of the now defunct Bennifer brand. It's entirely unwarranted, as although Jersey Girl rarely rises above gentle entertainment, it never deserves the venomous scorn that greeted that particular stinker.

Lopez is dispatched early on after a likeable cameo, leaving Affleck with a considerably younger leading lady. Castro, a convincing little J.Lette, keeps her confidence the right side of precocious and sparks convincing chemistry with Affleck, who tempers Ollie's arrogance with a dash of humility.

As a director, Smith is at times slightly overreaching in the dramatic stakes, almost abandoning comedy and grasping a little too enthusiastically at the heartstrings, which in turn leaves the more ribald gags hanging in midair. A frank speech about masturbation by love interest Maya might have been a hoot in Chasing Amy or Clerks, but feels misplaced here. But full credit to the man for extending himself with more adult material, and to Affleck too for puncturing his own cocksure persona. In a clutch of affecting emotional moments there's a hint that Silent Bob may have a stronger voice than expected.

Sweet, formulaic entertainment, but occasionally clunky. The 'grown-up' Kevin Smith exhibits greater ambition, but he's not quite so much fun.

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