Jersey Girl is a highly underrated movie. I know that for many people the script of Back To The Future written by Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale is the go-to example of the perfect script. I can not in any way disagree with that, however, when I’m asked, Jersey Girl written by Kevin Smith is my answer. Here is why.
For me personally, I have an affinity for it because it unapologetically takes place in New Jersey without it being a punchline. Kevin Smith is from Highlands, NJ where the bulk of the story takes place, and I’m from Farmingdale, NJ which are both in Monmouth County. It’s about 22 miles away. I have always been a fan of Kevin’s, I first found him through a friend of mine that shared a passion for film and he first showed me Clerks. I was hooked and have enjoyed his entire body of work since that day. So that’s a little of my bias.
Now to the actual film. I saw this in the theater, bought the DVD, and have the autographed one sheet poster on my wall. When this film came out I was slightly younger and really enjoyed it, but until my most recent viewing, now that I’m the father of a beautiful four-year-old girl Serenity, I never realized how real this movie is.
My favorite film has always been When Harry Met Sally. Little girls sometimes grow up dreaming of their wedding day, I grew up dreaming of having a romance like Sally and Harry did. That never happened for me. I tried a few times, but in real life, if you are in the friend zone, you are stuck in the friend zone for life.
My move was always the no-move… move. That’s the one that was the most successful. The woman I tried for, sure I could get, but I would always have this feeling that they agreed but I wasn’t their true desire, my self-esteem always got in the way.
The no-move…move is this, having my shit together and not caring if someone likes me or not. Of my long term relationships Jennifer wooed me, Rachael made the first move, and all the beautiful women in between asked me out. Like Ben’s character in Jersey Girl, he’s living his life and Maya (Liv Tyler) comes along, a strong woman who isn’t shy and pushes her way into his life. That’s what I always needed, and wanted really.
My most successful long term relationship to date, the one from where I got my daughter is/was with Heather. I’ve told the story before of how we met, but there is more than one meet-cute in real life. Another part of it was when I first saw her. She was a hostess at Perkins and I was a cook, she was helping the servers with coffee pots and I saw her infectious smile and that body. I immediately said to my cooking partner Johnny, “You see that girl? Some day I’m going to marry that girl”. The line is from When Harry Met Sally, written by Nora Ephron.
That’s exactly what I did, I married her. But it wasn’t my doing. Yes, my dad talked me up, yes we chatted on MySpace and then thousands of texts (her preferred mating dance I’ve learned) before we were ever alone together outside of work. I was in a funk, it had been a few years since my last real relationship with anyone, I was still getting over Rachael, and I really didn’t want to try again, however, I knew I loved Heather from the moment I saw her. Was she out of my league? Was she too good for me? Absolutely. Did I have a shot? Nope. But turns out I did.
Our texting was probably the best ever foreplay I have experienced. Each day it got a little more intimate, a little more naughty and propositioned. The final text that I knew I had a chance was something like “Don’t worry, I’m on depo.”.
During this time we would see each other at work and exchange pleasantries. Then she asked to come over to my place. Repeatedly. I put her off, delaying her with the half truth about having to clean my apartment. I was nervous as fuck, but eventually, I gave in and the night she came over, she made the first move, and what a move it was. That first “date” lasted years. We were inseparable from that point on. She was everything I always wanted and ever could want in a woman. From the very beginning, I knew it was meant to be. She was my soulmate. I never wanted to be away from her, there weren’t enough hours in the day that I could spend with her. The feeling was mutual for years until it wasn’t. I still feel that way. She, unfortunately, understandably doesn’t anymore. So, back to Jersey Girl, where Heather didn’t die, it has a lot of the same emotion, it may be worse because she chose to leave, Jennifer Lopez’s character didn’t.
She went through a very difficult time and I was so lucky to have Renny mostly 5 days a week and sometimes more. Heather needed to heal. I needed to be super dad. I didn’t have that resentment that Ollie did due to death by complications of childbirth, I fell in love with my daughter as soon as I saw the top of her head and my love for her has grown every day since. To me, Serenity is truly made from love. My hope is that one day the love that made her can be again.
The scene where Ollie talked about the loss and what happened to his wife to his baby girl tore my heart out this time. I now understand what this film is and who it was for. It was not for the me who saw it originally, It was for the me of now. The whole ben and Jen thing that was happening at the time really did take a toll on how it was received. I’m not sure who’s idea it was to spoil the movie for everyone about the death of Gertrude but for me the first time I saw it I was just waiting for her to die like Spock in The Wrath Of Kahn. The one misstep in my opinion, but it was understandable as they were doing their best for damage control. I want to find or for Kevin to release the long cut of the film he and Ben talk about in the DVD commentary, I need to see it.
Thank you, Kevin Smith, for writing such a truly needed and perfect piece of art.
As for the rest of my story, will Heather be a Hellen or a Sally? That’s really up to her, and the people around her. For what it’s worth I ask for everyone to let us heal, and become sound and healthy again. <3