Despite a likeable and talented cast, JERSEY GIRL misses the mark. Gina Wendkos's screenplay, about a working class girl from New Jersey who falls for a handsome rich man, has nothing new to add to a depleted genre.
Toby (Jami Gertz), a young, attractive school teacher from a blue-collar family, dreams of finding Mr. Right--preferably a Mr. Right with a big bank account. After a conversation with her father, Bennie (Joseph Bologna), who wants her to marry someone from the neighborhood, she impulsively visits
a Mercedes Benz dealership, where she hopes to meet wealthy men. Embarrassed and intimidated, she runs out of the showroom and into the parking lot where her dilapidated Volkswagen Beetle awaits. During her hasty retreat, Toby encounters Sal Torri (Dylan McDermott), a sophisticated-looking
gentleman who is behind the wheel of a Mercedes. She's determined to talk to this handsome but reluctant stranger and follows him into traffic. While trying to get his attention, she causes him to crash. Sal views the incident as an enormous inconvenience, but Toby sees it as a chance to give him
her phone number.
Sal never calls, but Toby manages to track him down at a business lunch and charms her way into a place at the table. Annoyed at first, Sal begins to warm up to the tacky but essentially sweet-natured girl. Before you can say WORKING GIRL, Sal has a fight with his girlfriend Tara (Sheryl Lee) and
decides to call Toby. Their romance is passionate but short-lived; cultural and socio-economic differences inevitably create conflict. Toby's friends, Angie (Aida Turturro), Cookie (Molly Price), and Dottie (Star Jasper), contend that Sal is turning her into a snob. Meanwhile, Sal's friends and
associates convince him that an alliance with a gum-chewing, big-haired Jersey girl will hurt his career. They have a tearful break-up, but by the film's end, Toby gets her man.
Such strengths as JERSEY GIRL displays lie in its knowing depiction of an Italian-American working class milieu; the dialogue between Toby and her friends is genuine and sometimes quite funny. But though the characters are pleasant and, for the most part, believable, they appear in the context of
an overly familiar and completely predictable story line. David Burton Morris' direction is workmanlike and the production values are good, but there's nothing here to justify another boilerplate updating of the class-based comic romances that have been a Hollywood staple since the silent era.
(Sexual situations, profanity.)
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- Released: 1994
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: Despite a likeable and talented cast, JERSEY GIRL misses the mark. Gina Wendkos's screenplay, about a working class girl from New Jersey who falls for a handsome rich man, has nothing new to add to a depleted genre. Toby (Jami Gertz), a young, attractive… (more)