There have been hundreds of romantic comedies made over the years, and most of them tend to follow the same formula: Boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy hurts girl, girl leaves, boy makes good and they live happily ever after.
But picture this: Girl goes to shore, girl’s job is literally demolished, girl gets job at stuck-up country club instead, girl falls in love with Spanish summer worker and girl learns about life and love, all with a robust sense of humor and beautiful Lavallette, N.J., in the foreground.
Which would you choose to watch?
If you picked the second, “Greetings from the Shore” is the movie for you. It deviates as far from the norm as it can, while still keeping the story genuine and realistic.
“We didn’t want to tell anything that was a straight genre film or a straight romantic comedy or straight coming of age,” Greg Chwerchak, the director and co-writer of the film, said.
The movie not only takes place at the Jersey Shore, but was shot there as well.
“We wouldn’t have shot it if it couldn’t be shot in New Jersey,” Gabrielle Berberich, the producer, casting director and other co-writer, said. “(The Jersey Shore) is so beautiful, but in Malibu, if you talk about the N.J. shore, they look at you like you’re crazy.”
Most of the events in “Greetings from the Shore” are taken directly from Berberich’s own experience spending her summers in Lavallette with her family while working as a waitress.
“(This film) is a dream come true,” Berberich said. “It’s about my father’s life . It’s like having little pieces of him back again, and I got to celebrate him with an audience.”
“(The film) is a love story to New Jersey,” Chwerchak added.
“The story is about a young girl who loses her father in her last year of school and comes out to the shore where they used to spend summers together,” Kim Shaw, the actress playing protagonist Jenny Chambers, said. There, she finds love and a renewed sense of hope in the world and her own life.
It was Chwerchak, (who was born in New Jersey) and Berberich’s faith in the beauty of the shore and those who live there that pushed them to not only shoot there, but also include many locals as extras in the film.
Lavallette is considered as much a character in the story as any of the actors.
“A lot of the events actually took place in Lavallette,” Berberich said. “Lavallette is like a second home to me. This is a coming of age movie – Lavallette itself has a coming of age.”
The film has traveled all over the country to various film festivals and the overall response has been very positive, with just a few bumps in the road.
Berberich was at a showing in California and a “woman stood up and said, ‘You shot my story. My father died too! Where’d you film it?'”
When Berberich told the woman it was filmed on location, she couldn’t and wouldn’t believe her.
“This is what New Jersey looks like,” Berberich said. “People cannot believe it . Some people don’t even realize New Jersey has beaches.”
Even though Berberich hopes “Greetings from the Shore” gives the Garden State a better name, she’s more anxious about what the home crowd will think.
The film opens in select theaters all over New Jersey Friday.
“New Jersey is who I made it for,” she said. “It’s like wanting your parents to be proud of something you did. But this film needed to be made to show (New Jersey’s) coming of age.”
With a trilogy of N.J. films in the works, it looks like Berberich and Chwerchak aren’t likely to stop promoting and adoring the Garden State any time soon.
“Don’t forget to appreciate all of the wonderful things New Jersey has to offer,” Berberich stressed to College students. “I won the lottery of humanity being raised in New Jersey.”