Jersey Girl is a 2004 American comedy-drama film written and directed by Kevin Smith. It stars Ben Affleck, Liv Tyler and George Carlin. At $35 million it was Smith's biggest-budget project to date ($10 million of which was Ben Affleck's salary, $4 million to Jennifer Lopez's salary), but ended up underperforming at the box office while receiving many negative reviews. Only a select few prominent critics reacted favorably. For instance, Roger Ebert gave the film three and a half out of four stars.
Oliver "Ollie" Trinké (Ben Affleck) is a powerful media publicist in New York City who loses his wife, Gertrude (Jennifer Lopez), in childbirth. To avoid his grief, Ollie buries himself in his work and ignores his new daughter, Gertie, while his father, Bart (George Carlin), takes 30 sick days in a row to care for her. Hoping to get Ollie to live up to his responsibility as a parent, one day his father returns suddenly to work, leaving Ollie to deal with his infant daughter. Under the stress of a botched diaper change and a baby who won't stop crying, Ollie trashes his client (Will Smith, for his soon-to-be released film Independence Day) in front of the assembled reporters and even lashes out at them. The public outburst costs Ollie his job and he moves in with his father in New Jersey. Ollie is humbled by the experience and finally looks upon his daughter with approval and conviction.
Now blacklisted by all the New York public relations firms, Ollie has tried unsuccessfully for years to get work as a publicist. He finally takes work as a civil servant in the borough where he now lives to get by. Gertie (Raquel Castro), now in elementary school, often coaxes her father to rent movies to watch. At the video store, they meet Maya (Liv Tyler), one of the store's clerks. Maya soon becomes a good friend and part of their lives.
As part of his job in the borough, Ollie speaks to a group of outraged citizens to win over their approval for a major public works project that will temporarily close a street in the neighborhood. His successful and enjoyable interaction with the crowd leads him to realize how much he misses the public relations work. He contacts Arthur (Jason Biggs), his one-time protégé, who sets up a promising interview.
The real prospect of moving to New York creates tension between Ollie and his daughter, his father, and Maya, especially when he says that his interview is on the same day as Gertie's show. Gertie yells at Ollie, saying she hates him and that she wishes he died instead of her mom. Ollie says that he hates her and her mother just as much for ruining his life before he knows what he's saying. Ollie desperately tries to apologize immediately after saying that, but Gertie pushes him away and runs into her room, crying. Ollie tries to clear his head by visiting his wife's grave, but it makes him even more sad. He and Gertie apologize to each other, and Gertie accepts the fact that they're moving. However, while waiting to be interviewed, Ollie has a chance encounter with Will Smith (playing himself), who Ollie had trashed at his public outburst years before. Smith has no idea who Ollie is but their conversation about work and children makes Ollie decide to sacrifice the former for the latter.
Ollie is able to make it to his daughter's "Sweeney Todd" musical performance at the last second (she chose "God, That's Good!", which, as it turned out, was the only one not to be "Memory" from Cats). The film ends with Ollie, Gertie, Bart, Maya, and the rest celebrating at the bar. Ollie hugs Maya, but they are interrupted by Gertie who asks Maya if she can have her dad now. Maya lets her. Ollie picks up Gertie and she asks if they're staying with Pop. Ollie says that they are and that he didn't take the job. Gertie asks if he'll take her to see Cats and he says no. Gertie then asks why he didn't take the job if he loved it so much. Ollie says that he thought he loved it, but he loved his new life more because being a father to Gertie was the only thing that he was really good at.
- Ben Affleck as Oliver "Ollie" Trinké.
- Liv Tyler as Maya.
- Raquel Castro as Gertie Trinké.
- George Carlin as Bart Trinké.
- Jennifer Lopez as Gertrude Steiney.
- Stephen Root as Greenie.
- Mike Starr as Block.
- Jason Biggs as Arthur Brickman.
- Will Smith as Himself.
- Jason Lee as PR Exec. 1.
- Matt Damon as PR Exec. 2.