Geek Gone Bad
So this is what happens when slackers go bad– er, good. Off. “Respectable.” When they defy their nature.
Look, I’ve got no problem with Kevin Smith thinking it was time to grow up. Not that I see anything wrong or even necessarily juvenile with the kind of clever snarkiness and fanboy exuberance that Smith’s movies were full of — my god, he was a geek who made it big, maybe the most famousest of all geeks, and that’s saying something. But after Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Smith told us all he was ready to move on to something… more mature. Okay, fine. I was looking forward to seeing what would spring from the fertile, irreverent imagination of a grown-
But this? Since when does “growing up” mean “going schmaltzy”? Buddy Christ on a popsicle stick, Jersey Girl, Smith’s first “serious” film, is a sitcom, a mawkish, sentimental single-
God, and it’s so earnest. And so predictable. You can practically hear the canned laughter when Dad screws up — that’s Dad for ya! — and the prerecorded awwwwwing when the kid turns on the goofy-
And Dad… oh, man. If Smith wanted to be taken seriously, he’d probably have been better off leaving Ben Affleck out of Jersey Girl, except for that one cameo that we’d all have been waiting for anyway, like how we wait and wait for Matt Damon and Jason Lee to show up for a scene and sure enough, there they are. I know Smith and Affleck (Paycheck, Gigli) have a past, but surely a dear friend is the one you’d trust to take you aside and gently — gently — break the news to you that, you know, you’re just not leading-
But Affleck… it’s sad, and a little embarrassing, watching him, as Ollie Trinke, Sitcom Dad, emoting over his dead wife, sobbing and getting all choked up in that manly reticent way. He plays the scene like he’s, you know, overcome by something terribly sad but as if he’s running through a checklist on How To Play the Grief Scene. And I won’t even go into how the dead wife is played, in the film’s early scenes, by Jennifer Lopez (Maid in Manhattan, Enough) while they were still all big ugly pink diamonds and kissy-
So Ben is stuck with moppet Gertie (Raquel Castro), too precious for words, for whom he has given up his high-
And it’s actually bizarre in places, and not intentionally so, and not in any particularly interesting way where you go, Oh, okay, Smith was going for something here — didn’t work, but he tried. No. There’s a whole subplot about Ollie trying to get back into the PR game after years of working as, yes, a sanitation worker in suburban Jersey, but that’s not the weird thing. This is: Smith seems to have some strange idea that Ollie getting his PR mojo back is a good thing, that there’s some sort of redemptive power in the magic of smooth bullshit.
But that’s nothing to the post-
Maybe there are nuclear-