Rest in Peace, George
I’m sure that I’m not the only member of my generation who first came to know the comedian George Carlin thanks to 1989’s Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, where he played Bill and Ted’s time-traveling mentor Rufus. But I’m pretty sure that I am one of a very few people in the world who, when they heard about the death of George Carlin, thought about his performance in Kevin Smith’s Jersey Girl first and foremost.
If you haven’t seen Jersey Girl—and, let’s face it, very few have, considering the horrible reviews it was given in the wake of Gigli—allow me to illuminate you. Carlin plays the father of Ben Affleck’s Ollie Trinke, and Carlin’s character, Bart, along with the eponymous Jersey Girl herself, are the glue that holds Ollie together after his wife dies in childbirth.
Carlin gets all the great lines and, in my opinion, steals or comes close to stealing nearly every scene he’s in. And for me, the film is worth watching if only to catch Carlin’s performance in a scene near the end, a scene wherein this battle-tested comedian gives an incredibly real and painfully heartbreaking dramatic performance.
I’m not sure if IMDB has the exchange exactly right, but they’ve got the gist of it:
Ollie: Come on, Dad. Don’t you wanna live alone again?
Bart: Not as much as I don’t wanna die alone.
Of course, Carlin also gets his share of hilarious jabs and colorful language in the film, too. But everyone who knows Carlin knows going into the film that he’s funny. I’ll always remember him in Jersey Girl because, for me, it was the film where he proved he could do it all.
Rest in peace, George.