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Film / Jersey Girl

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This 2004 comedy-drama was Kevin Smith’s first foray into more traditional Hollywood filmmaking, as well as his first film to be set outside of The View Askewniverse.

Ollie (Ben Affleck) is a workaholic music publicist living comfortably in New York City whose wife Gertrude (Jennifer Lopez) tragically dies in childbirth. His responsibility for his newborn daughter eventually costs him his job, forcing him to move into his father’s (George Carlin) house in New Jersey. From then on, it’s the story of Ollie’s shaky attempts to raise his daughter, whom he named after her mother, as a single parent, all while deciding whether or not to return to the ritzy life in New York with her. Ollie also finds himself getting involved with a sexy video-store clerk named Maya (Liv Tyler).

Jersey Girl demonstrates the following tropes:

  • Actor Allusion:
  • Age-Inappropriate Art: At the talent show, Gertie performs "God, That's Good!" from Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, a song about a murderous barber and pie shop maker's business booming because they've secretly started using human meat in their pies.
  • Armor-Piercing Response: Ollie delivers one to his dad Bart when Bart sees Ollie burying himself in work to forget about the loss of his wife and neglecting his newborn child in the process. "Jeez, if Gertie could see the s**t that you've pulled." "Gertie doesn't see anymore, Dad, she's dead.".
  • Beleaguered Assistant: Arthur.
  • Brick Joke: Gertie repeatedly asks her dad to take her to see Cats, but because it's no longer running, they see Sweeney Todd instead. Later, at the school pageant, they're the only ones who don't sing "Memory."
  • Chekhov's Gun: Gertie always forgetting to flush the toilet. The one time she remembers on her own is the one time Ollie wouldn't have wanted her to...
  • Dead Guy Junior: Ollie names his daughter Gertie after Gertrude, his wife, who died giving birth to their daughter.
  • Death by Childbirth: Gertrude, who suffers an aneurysm right after giving birth to Gertie.
  • Did I Just Say That Out Loud?:
    • The entire reason Ollie had to move back in with his dad.
    • And when he curses out his daughter. The guy should really learn to keep his mouth shut sometimes because when you say things out of anger, you can't take it back.
  • Disappointed in You: Gertie express disappointment in Ollie for not being a better father to her and Ollie's dad tells Ollie what's gotten into him after his Wham Line.
    Bart: (to Ollie disappointingly) What the hell the matter with you? Huh?
  • Easily Forgiven: A few days after the heated argument and Ollie's Wham Line and Gertie's You Should Have Died Instead line, Ollie and Gertie apologize to each other and say that they didn't mean any of the things they said, such as Ollie saying that Gertie and her mother took his life away from him and Gertie saying that he should have died instead of her mother.
  • Flushing Toilet, Screaming Shower: How Gertie ends up catching Ollie and Maya, who are standing in the shower when Gertie flushes the toilet.
  • Grumpy Old Man: George Carlin's character, even though it shows he actually does care.
  • Interrupted Intimacy: Ollie gets caught with Maya by Gertie, who switches roles with him, mirroring a previous scene involving his daughter.
  • It Will Never Catch On: Ollie doesn't think Will Smith, a rapper and the star of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air will be able to carry a huge summer action film like Independence Day.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: After his initial irresponsibility, Ollie becomes a loving, attentive father for his daughter, but still tries to convince her that his previous lofty lifestyle, as opposed to their simpler one with his father in New Jersey, will be good for her. When he tries to force her to move back to New York later in the movie, he gets so angry that he outright says he hates her and accuses her (and her mother/his wife) of taking his life away from him.
  • Magical Negro: Will Smith's appearance (as himself) in an all white colored outfit has shades of this.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Maya is this to a T; her job as a video store clerk and her graduate studies seem to be just pretexts for her to aggressively throw herself into Ollie's life and provide him with sex and romance.
  • No Bisexuals: In-universe. When discussing who George Michael is singing about in his popular 1980's hit song "I Want Your Sex", Ollie shoots down the theory that George Michael is singing that to a guy. Not once taking in account to the musician's bisexuality.
    Ollie: Because George Michael is a pimp who is all about the ladies. That song "I Want Your Sex"? I mean, come on! You think he's singing that to a guy?
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten: Ollie's rant where he trashes his own client at a press conference has made him unemployable. He gets one job interview simply because he's so infamous that the interviewers want to meet him, not because they have any intention of hiring him.
  • Playing Doctor: Ollie walks in on Gertie lifting up her dress for a male friend. Amazingly, one of the few examples of this trope to actually show the game in question being played.
  • Recognition Failure: Ollie does not recognize his client's name, "Will Smith," until reminded that he is the Fresh Prince.
  • Resentful Guardian: Ollie resents his daughter for how having to care for her as a single father has ruined his life, leading him to explode at her with his Wham Line after she said some terrible words to him by saying that You Should Have Died Instead.
  • Stunned Silence: Everyone (even Gertie) in the house after Ollie delivers the below Wham Line.
  • Swapped Roles: After Gertie catches Ollie in the shower with Maya.
  • Take That!: Many. Notably:
    • In universe, Ollie delivers a massive one to Will Smith (just prior to the release of Independence Day).
    • Cats is apparently "the second worst thing to ever happen to New York."
  • Tempting Fate: Ollie does this multiple times. The first is also memorable if not a Tear Jerker Foreshadowing:
    Ollie: (out of breath) You carry em' for 9 months, give birth. We've seen it done 100 times! How hard can it be?
  • Titled After the Song: The Bruce Springsteen cover of Tom Waits' original from Heartattack and Vine plays over the end credits.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: Interesting example. Gertrude dying was supposed to be a major twist and Jennifer Lopez was meant to get a top billing. However after Gigli flopped with critics and audiences Bennifer started suffering from a major Hype Backlash. In attempt at damage control Lopez was Demoted to Extra and her death became a major part of advertising campaign.
  • The 'Verse: Averted. One of the reasons for this film's commercial failure was that it wasn't set in The View Askewniverse.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Bart calls Ollie out a few times when he wasn't being the father he should be. Even after his Wham Line, he didn't have much to say to him.
  • World of Snark: It is a Kevin Smith film, after all.
  • You Should Have Died Instead: During the heated argument, Gertie went as far as to saying that she hates Ollie and that she wished he died instead of her mother.
    Gertie: I hate you! I hate you and I wish you died, not Mommy!


Video Example(s):


Jersey Girl

"I hate you right back you little shit! You and your mom took my life away from me! I just want it back!"

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / ResentfulGuardian

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