Warning: This post isn’t exactly G-rated, if you get my drift. If this is likely to bother you, go read something else.
Jersey Girl is, above all, a sweet movie. I say this because with Kevin Smith, sweet can be hard to come by. Funny, though, is another matter entirely. The man writes funnier dialogue than nearly anyone in the business. A better man to pen an exchange that involves sex is hard to come by.
This is a movie about Ollie, a widower who crashes and burns at his high-flying PR job and moves back to the Garden State with his dad to raise his daughter Gertie. It goes without saying, of course, that he will find an opportunity to get back into the major league but will choose instead to stay back, and that it will all get decided when he has to choose between a big interview and Gertie’s school function. That school function gets one of the movie’s big laughs, but more on that later.
First, we get back to Kevin Smith’s favourite topic: sex. As a single father who has his hands full with his six year-old daughter, Ollie hardly sees any action. He is limited to picking out an adult movie from the local video store. On one such occasion, the pretty clerk teases him about it. She is a grad student doing a thesis on porn-watching behaviour of video store customers, and wants to use him as a survey subject. He reluctantly agrees and meets her for lunch. Here’s how their conversation goes:
Maya: So, uh, question one: How often do you rent adult movies?
Ollie: Do l really have to do this?
Maya: You have nothing to be ashamed about. lnterest in adult film can be healthy, as long as it’s not habitual. So come on, how often?
Ollie: Three or four times a week.
Maya: OK, maybe l was wrong. You should be ashamed.
Ollie: You have a real talent for making the subject feel open and comfortable in a safe environment.
Maya: So you’re renting it presumably to masturbate to, right?
Ollie [embarassed]: Good God!
Maya: Come on, don’t be such a tight-ass. We’re all adults here.
Ollie: l know l’m an adult. How old are you, exactly?
Maya: l’ll be 26 in March.
Ollie: 26? You still haven’t learned some things aren’t polite to talk about in public?
Maya: lf it makes you feel any better, l do it, like, twice a day.
Ollie [amazed]: Good God!
Maya: What can l tell ya? l get bored easily.
Ollie: You’re gonna get carpal tunnel syndrome.
Maya: Don’t you get all judgmental on me. You’re no slouch yourself!
You might remember that Kevin Smith was the man who spoke, in Chasing Amy, of the ideal way to receive oral sex: “It should be like CNN’s Weather Channel. Constant updates!” So finding the Carpal Tunnel Syndrome worm its way into this conversation isn’t exactly a surpise. However, I haven’t been able to look at my mouse the same way ever since.
The other big laugh comes right at the end, during the aforementioned school function. Each kid is expected to perform something along with his/her parents. As is always the case in these movies, Ollie and Gertie perform last. Everyone before them has performed the same song: Memory from Cats. These guys, on the other hand, perform God, that’s good from Sweeney Todd. This is a musical about a barber who kills his customers and an old woman who lives downstairs and makes meat pies out of them. Clearly not a first-grader type of musical.
Now, we already know they’re gonna do this: Ollie takes Gertie to watch the play in NY without quite realizing what it is about. You see them discussing the rehearsals. But none of this really prepares you for the scene when they actually perform. The reaction shots – mind you, this is a Catholic school – are priceless. The macabre dances the tango with the absurd, and you’re left rolling in the aisles laughing.