Uh oh! Kevin "Silent Bob" Smith made another poopie. This one is called Jersey Girl (because it takes place in jersey and there's a girl in it! a real girl! it is a play on words!) and stars America's favorite leading man, George Carlin. It also stars Ben Affleck, who occupies the space in pop culture formerly held by Ethan Hawke – the male celebrity most men irrationally hate, and most women appreciate. (the female equivalent of this is martha stewart.)
Taking a pre-emptively self-deprecating page from Dave Eggers' book, Kevin Smith has been very vocal about the obstacles he believes his film will face at the box office. On his own web site, he cites the disaster of Gigli and "Hurriane Bennifer" as two factors, among many, that will likely hurt the opening weekend ticket sales of his film. He also goes to great lengths to predict which newspapers and magazines will critically headbutt the film. With each paragraph Kevin builds a compelling argument, and in the process sets up a great "little film that could" story in case the film succeeds despite what he seems determined to convince us are nearly insurmountably unfavorable odds. (he conveniently forgets to mention that his daring little film has had a huge marketing campaign on its side, as well as access to every major talk show in america, all of which will surely feature a certain chubby filmmaker in his baggy jeans, chuck taylors, and hoodie sweatshirt, in the coming weeks. these avenues of self-promotion are slightly more credible and dignified than handing out fliers on the steps of The Angelika Theater.)
But Kevin Smith leaves out one extremely important argument for his film's imminent failure. No, I'm not talking about the fact that it looks like a self-conscious, pandering, manipulative piece of trash and a hasty bit of reconstructive surgery for both his image and Ben Affleck's – the film equivalent of George Bush kissing an old black lady on the lips in front of a swarm of press photographers. And no, I'm not speaking of a knee-jerk reaction to the Jersey Girl commercials that makes me want to enroll those smug child actors in the toughest public school in Detroit. (my friend, Evany, would categorize them as "Welch's" kids – the kind of kids who get cast in commercials for Welch's Grape Juice. they usually have only one type of emotion at their disposal – something called "Up With People.") What will hurt Jersey Girl the most, particularly on opening weekend, is its inability to connect with Kevin Smith's core audience of super-fans: 18-34 year-old single guys who own, operate, or just spend most of their free time in comic book stores.
The borderline-retarded small-talk disguised as philosophical musings in Kevin Smith's films somehow works best on guys who own talking Austin Powers collectible figures and a framed, signed and numbered Frank Frazetta print. These are guys who would argue that the best Batman film is the animated Batman: Mask of the Phantasm and would then make you sit through a DVD viewing to enforce that argument.
As such, Kevin Smith's core fans tend to not relate to themes like "fatherhood", "emotional sacrifice" "mutually satisfying relationships" and "success." And unless Jersey Girl has a blowjob-on-a-toilet joke or a pot-smoking shit demon sequence that has somehow eluded the edit for the film's trailers and commercials, there just might not be much in here for Smith's fans. And that could really hurt his opening box office.
So what's up with Kevin Smith? Is he apologizing for his film? Is he covering his ass? Or is this just another bout of tremendous hubristic misdirection on his part, shifting the focus from his film's real potential problems to a loose bundle of nonessential external obstacles? I do know this: even if I hadn't seen Kevin Smith's name attached to the film – and I'm doing nothing to disguise that seeing his name attached to any film produces in me the same physical reaction as seeing the words "Directed by Leni Riefenstahl" – I would still rather spend Jersey Girl's opening night in another theater, watching zombies bite pregnant ladies on the face. In that respect, I probably have a lot in common with Kevin Smith's biggest fans.