When Jersey Girl first came out, the critics didn't like it, it was conspicuously ignored by the masses who were flooded under the "Bennifer" aftermath from tabloids. It is a shame it didn't gross enough to break even at the box office, because this is a really nice feel-good film.
Kevin Smith, known for his edgy dialogue in most of his movies, retains the edge in writing. However, the setting is more mature, theme of the movie is about love and survival and the characters do not resort to fart jokes all the time. The good-hearted humor is in plain sight for everyone to see, and for some this might be too sappy and too much of a fairytale. Still, the underlying themes are the ones that keep this film well-composed and in check. The loss of a loved one, finding new love, adapting to a new lifestyle, becoming a real parent and family relationships are something we all can relate to and Smith writes about all these things well. The story and characters' actions are poignant but still believable in their own right. There is a clear arc to each character, helped by the fact the movie progresses several years in its timeline. And when the time comes to round things up, there is a moral in the end, which is simple and something you can agree with.
Contrary to Kevin Smith's claims, I wouldn't cast Ben Affleck in just about anything. But he does his romcoms well and Jersey Girl suits him just fine. Liv Tyler reprises another love story with Ben, but this time it is not on Armageddon scale. It is more of a slow burn and well developed by Smith.
Kevin Smith has rounded up a great supporting cast which includes George Carlin as Ben's father and Jason Biggs as Ben's assistant. The cream of the casting crop is young Raquel Castro as Ben's daughter. Almost zero acting experience before Jersey Girl (or since) and the kid lights up the screen whenever she is on it. Phenomenal job.
To this day I don't understand why people piled on this movie, because it performs very well as a genre movie. There is very little to dislike in the casting. The dialogue writing is as witty and sharp as you would expect from Kevin Smith. The story is totally acceptable. It's different from Smith's general body of work and the only movie to date which doesn't happen within the confines of the Viewaskewniverse.
Would Jersey Girl have been better if Jay and Silent had made an appearance? I don't think so. Give this one a chance.