Gigli movie review

A scene from 'Gigli'
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* star
124 minutes | Rated: PG-13
WIDE: Friday, August 1, 2003
Written & directed by Martin Brest

Starring Ben Affleck, Jennifer Lopez, Justin Bartha, Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, Missy Crider, Lainie Kazan

This film is on the Worst of 2003 list.


Only worth renting if you're a rabid Christopher Walken fan and you want to see his cameo. Otherwise not even good for mockery. If you're looking for "fun bad," try "Showgirls" or "Battlefield Earth."

   VIDEO RELEASE: 12.09.2003

  • Martin Brest
  • Ben Affleck
  • Jennifer Lopez
  • Al Pacino
  • Christopher Walken
  • Lainie Kazan

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    Real-life couple give lousy performances in pandering kidnapping romance 'Gigli'

    By Rob Blackwelder

    In what may go down as the most embarrassing, imprudent attempt at cleverly sexy dialogue in the history of cinema, the gangland romantic comedy catastrophe entitled "Gigli" features Jennifer Lopez coming on to Ben Affleck by asking to be orally pleasured with the line, "Turkey time! Gobble, gobble."

    But it's not the line all by itself that makes this moment the cherry atop this dung-heap sundae of a movie that is nothing but bad moments. It's also the fact that Lopez is playing a lesbian -- one of those gorgeous, male-fantasy movie lesbians who just needed the right man to straighten her out.

    And it's also the idea that this "right man" for a straight-curious, street-smart sappho could be an angry, dimwitted, pompadoured mook and inept mob-enforcer, played by Affleck with a bad Brooklyn accent (even though the character grew up in southern California) and the stink of churlish masculinity that comes from over-active testosterone glands and beer-deadened brain cells.

    Perhaps the wholly artificial Affleck was cast based on the fact that in 1996's "Chasing Amy" he'd successfully romanced another lesbian -- but at least the girl in that movie was conflicted about changing teams. Lopez's character just flops on her back, seduced by the 15-watt personality power of Affleck's grossly affected swagger.

    Written and directed by Martin Brest, whose last outing was the equally unbearable "Meet Joe Black," the romance revolves around these two opposing personalities being assigned to keep an eye on each other as they kidnap the mentally disabled brother of a district attorney and threaten harm to the kid (Justin Bartha, whose performance is straight out of a community theater rendition of "Rain Man") if charges aren't dropped against their boss's capo.

    Not the least bit believable as underworld thugs to begin with (when Lopez threatens to gouge somebody's eyes out, it's more cute than intimidating), the pair are soon charmed as much by their autistic charge as they are by each other. When orders come down to cut off his thumb and mail it to the uncooperative DA, Gigli (Affleck) and Ricki (Lopez) go soft. They substitute a cadaver's digit (apparently they're unfamiliar with the concept of fingerprints), and land themselves in hot water with the mobster and a quirky local cop (played by Al Pacino and Christopher Walken respectively, in enjoyably idiosyncratic one-scene performances that show the movie's stars for the lightweights they really are).

    So dumb that he gets into arguments with his mentally challenged victim over perceived insults stemming from Tourette's Syndrome, it's no wonder that Gigli was assigned a minder. But while Ricki, with her bouncy hair and skin-tight hip huggers, is supposed to be the smart, cool-headed one on this job (she quotes "The Art of War" and makes amateur psychiatric diagnoses), it never crosses her mind that maybe Gigli's apartment isn't the best place to keep a kidnapee or that maybe taking him out in public for lunch might draw unwanted attention.

    How these two clowns each got their alleged criminal reputations is one of the great mysteries of "Gigli." The other is whether the movie could have been redeemed at all by its original ending in which Gigli was killed. The rejection by happy-ending-conditioned test audiences led to re-shoots and a major overhaul in the editing room.

    The word on the industry grapevine is that the lesbian angle has been played down as a result, which may account for the gauche seduction scenes ("gobble, gobble" is preceded by a jog-bra and short-shorts-clad Lopez giving a tasteless speech about the joys of the female genitalia while striking sexually suggestive yoga positions) and the sunsets-and-saccharine plot detour in the last reel that is accompanied by an nauseating, overbearing chorus-of-angels musical score.

    But even if Brest's best, first cut of "Gigli" didn't include the fence-jumping romance or the not-played-for-laughs ineptitude of the kidnappers -- and even if it avoided every plot hole and platitude -- the flimsy, tedious performances don't reflect any spark of life or any hint of the so-called chemistry that reportedly led to Affleck (who comes across as a Travolta-from-"Get Shorty" wannabe) and Lopez (who has had more depth in music videos) falling in love on the set.

    Since these two have another big screen pairing waiting in the wings (Kevin Smith's "Jersey Girl"), here's hoping that this fiasco is somehow entirely the fault of the director, because at this point I think I'd rather suffer through last week's pandering, soft-pitch Dateline NBC special about the couple than watch them lurch and stagger through another two hours of screen amour.


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