L’affaire Bennifer gets one last airing in Jersey Girl‘s interminable backstory, told through the eyes of the doomed duo’s seven-year-old daughter. Flashback—the mid ’90s! High-powered music publicist Ollie (Ben) loses his wife Gertie (Jen) in childbirth and foists Gertie Jr. onto her Jersey-living grandpa (George Carlin) in order to continue his Manhattanite ways. After sabotaging his career by insulting a crowd of journos, he returns to the Garden State, tail between legs. He realizes he has to be a better father, and tells his infant daughter this, in a monologue of instant kitsch so “passionate” that one hears Jon Lovitz’s old thespian character proclaiming: “Acting!”
Director and writer Kevin Smith recently joked that as long as Jersey Girl made more than Gigli, it would be considered a success. This may be self-preservation kicking in. Aware of its awfulness, the film edits out most of Ollie’s mojo-rejuvenating speech, abandons grad student-video store clerk Liv Tyler’s trajectory after throwing her in the shower, and has characters explain transparent motivations, to convince the gullible that the feelings here are real.