JERSEY GIRL: J.LO was lucky to get killed early on.

Jersey Girl

dir. Smith

Opens Fri March 26

Various Theaters

Jersey Girl is not a film for fans of Kevin Smith's previous work, such as Clerks, Mallrats, or Chasing Amy. Why? Because Jersey Girl isn't funny, clever, stylistic, or crude. It's just one of those middling stories about a crappy dad who steps up to the plate and becomes a great dad, putting his career aspirations aside.

Ben Affleck is the dad, J.LO is the mom--who dies during childbirth--and a believably Hispanic-looking kid plays the cutesy daughter. Overall, this film provides about 10 minutes of real entertainment, between the time J.LO kicks the bucket and the time Ben Affleck accepts his calling as a wonderful father. During these blissful 10 minutes, Ben passes the screaming kid off on his dad, shirks responsibility, smokes heavily, and acts like an A-list asshole, heading off for work rather than changing dirty diapers.

Realizations come quickly, though, and after Ben gets canned from his job due to an unfortunate lapse in judgment, he turns his act around. Apparently, according to Hollywood and Kevin Smith, a guy can't have a career and be a good parent, and thus, after the firing, Ben is relegated to the ranks of Jersey garbage collecting. He also lives with his dad, wears shitty clothes, and swears off women.

Enter Liv Tyler, a barely developed character who falls for Ben after three minutes of conversation. And here's where the movie really takes a crap. Smith's focus shifts to heartwarming but unbelievable development of Ben's relationship with his kid; Ben's wrestling with the loss of his career; and Ben's passionless romantic relationship. This is accompanied by a bunch of poignant one-liners, like when Ben says to his kid, "You're the only thing I was ever good at." Anyone with half a brain can now roll their eyes and make puke noises.

Jersey Girl shows promise in the beginning, but overall, devolves into a boring, poorly acted cheesefest that only a complete sap could love. Barf on you Kevin Smith, and barf on you, too, Ben. Your fake crying is pathetic.