Jersey Girl

Kevin Smith (Clerks, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back) has brought so much scrappy wit to movies that you can almost forgive this treacly tale of Big Apple music publicist Ollie Trinke (Ben Affleck), whose wife (Jennifer Lopez — no cracks, please) dies in childbirth. Now Ollie lives in New Jersey with his widowed dad (George Carlin), who helps him raise his eight-year-old daughter, Gertie (cutie-pie Raquel Castro). Tears are jerked as Ollie finds love with a video clerk (Liv Tyler). But Smith cuts the goo with laughs, especially when Gertie does a song in school from Sweeney Todd, Stephen Sondheim's demonic musical about cannibalism. Affleck is modest and engaging, which keeps the movie out of Gigli territory. But it's close.