Thursday, May 09, 2013

j lo and jersey girl

Jennifer Lopez is a very familiar face these days. She is also known by the monikers  J Lo and Jenny from the Block. She married and separated from Latin singing sensation Mark Anthony, but not before having twins Emme and Maximilian with him. We've seen her on American Idol, in a variety of movies. She seems almost omnipresent as a commercial spokesperson and has released multiple fragrances. She has found success as a singer, with seven studio albums which have even spawned some chart-topping hits ("If You Had My Love," "Waiting for Tonight," and "On the Floor"). She has been sure to be photographed wearing as little as possible at various award shows to accentuate her celebrated curves (most memorably, at the 2000 Grammy Awards with a green Versace dress slashed from here to there). Some may not remember that she was also half of one of the first tabloid super couples in recent years that caught both the public's and the paparazzi's attention, Bennifer.

Lopez had no idea the dress would create such a stir. Uh huh.
"Bennifer", a portmanteau, was the nickname given to the celebrity couple ... by Affleck's friend, Kevin Smith. [They] met on the set of their mega-flop Gigli ... Their relationship spanned eighteen months and included a much-hyped engagement, a 6 carat (1.2 g) Harry Winston diamond engagement ring, an aborted wedding, and a prolonged breakup, culminating in their split on January 20 2004, with both blaming media attention. — Wikipedia
Before there was Brangelina, there was Bennifer.  Photographers followed them everywhere, and fans and critics alike wondered at their mismatched romance. The two seemed to encourage all of the attention, publicizing extravagant gifts given to each other. They made a couple of movies together, both which were critical and financial failures. While Gigli is universally considered to be a terrible movie, I'd never heard too much about their second effort, Jersey Girl, which was directed by Kevin Smith.

When Jersey Girl showed up on cable the other day, I was curious and thought I might as well give it a chance. It couldn't be that bad, could it? Jersey Girl is by no means the greatest movie ever made, but it also is certainly not the worst. I guess Gigli still holds that distinction. Jersey Girl is just a small slice-of-life film. Lopez is hardly in it, which may have contributed to both its success and its failure. Let's face it, Lopez may have conquered music and television, but she has never had too much success at the movies. Apart from the wonderful Out of Sight, with George Clooney, her film output is far from impressive. And the reason that film is so good, is a good script and its two stars have some serious chemistry. But chemistry is not acting.

Lopez has tried to mold herself into a rom-com star a la Julia Roberts, with flicks like The Wedding Planner and Maid in Manhattan, but these for the most part have been pretty poor, even in that genre. More recent efforts like The Back-up Plan, Monster-in-Law, and What to Expect When You're Expecting weren't even as good as The Wedding Planner. Over-saturated critics and fans alike may have had it out for Bennifer when Jersey Girl came out, but they can't entirely blame Lopez for its failure, as she hardly appears in the movie. Her character comes and goes within the movie's first few scenes, sporting an incomprehensible Shirley Temple-like hairdo while she's there.

In 2004 Shirley Temple 'dos were all the rage - not.
Once Lopez is out of the picture, Jersey Girl concentrates on the story Smith wants to tell — of single father Ollie (Affleck), who is completely unprepared and unsuited to take on his fatherly duties when his wife dies in childbirth. He's lucky he has his father, Bart (a wonderful George Carlin) around to help. He less than thrilled that Bart enlists his two buddies, Greenie (Stephen Root) and Block (Mike Starr) help raise his little girl.
Bart, "Sun even shines on a dog's ass some days."
Greenie, "You gettin' a dog?"
Affleck is a over-the-top and obnoxious during the first part, or practically all of the movie, but the smart-ass behavior suits the character of a guy who thought he was a big shot and blames his wife's death for his losing his mojo. What makes Jersey Girl enjoyable are the people — the little girl Gertie, played by Raquel Castro; her grandpa, George Carlin, and his buddies; and Liv Tyler, a girl who's really too good for grieving widower Affleck, but who we know will eventually bring him around. Will Smith also shows up for a brief, funny, and important cameo.

Post Jersey Girl Affleck floundered for a while, with films like Surviving Christmas, He's Just Not That Into You, and Smokin' Aces, but he soon was back on top again as an actor and a director, with films like State of Play, The Town, and most recently, the Oscar-winning Best Picture, Argo.

Just when you forget that Kevin Smith is the director of Jersey Girl, there are series of jokes lambasting the Broadway musical Cats, brought to a very funny fruition during Gertie's school pageant.
Ollie, "Cats is the second-worst thing that ever happened to New York City."
Gertie, too cool for Cats, chooses to feature a scene from Sweeney Todd in her segment in the pageant. Jersey Girl is a fun little movie. No one may remember Bennifer these days, but at the time the press and the public's tiring of the super-couple was enough to sink this film. And the film's failure was probably also more than a little responsible for sinking their romance.
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