1/2 (out of 5)
August 1, 2003
Ben Affleck as LARRY GIGLI
Jennifer Lopez as RICKI
Justin Bartha as BRIAN
Lenny Venito as LOUIS
Christopher Walken as DET. STANLEY
Al Pacino as STARKMAN
Directed by: Martin Brest
BY KEVIN CARR
I don’t know what marketing genius gave the green light to release a film with a hard-to-pronounce single word title when there are so many other easily pronounceable words that would have been better. Like “Awful.” Or “Dreadful.” Or maybe even “Excruciating.”
A bad sign for a film is when the advertising changes in the middle of the campaign. This summer’s other stinker “Hollywood Homicide” changed it’s advertising focus at least once – from comedy to police drama. I’ve seen more changes in the advertising for “Gigli” than I’ve seen in Jennifer Lopez’s wedding calendar. Depending on where you see a trailer, “Gigli” is a light comedy, a romantic comedy, a gangster thriller, a gangster comedy or an uplifting drama. Sadly, it is none of these. It’s just a mess.
Larry Gigli (Ben Affleck) is L.A. mob muscle hired to “protect” (read as “kidnap,” although you don’t find this out until at least an hour into the movie) a mentally handicapped kid for a few days. Once on the job, Ricki (Jennifer Lopez) shows up. She’s also been hired to help keep an eye on the kid. Gigli’s hot for her, but alas, she’s a lesbian.
The two decide the best way to lay low is to drive the kid all over L.A. in a convertible and pick fights with high school punks at taco stands. Ricki is annoyingly perfect, even as mob muscle. Much like the can-do-no-wrong wives of the 1990s sitcoms like “Coach” and “Home Improvement,” Ricki always know the right thing to say and teaches Gigli the wise, sensitive ways of lesbian mobsters.
Aw, I give up! Let’s face it. This movie just makes no sense!
One of the most remarkable things about “Gigli” is the stunning lack of chemistry between Affleck and Lopez. Affleck marks time in this movie with the same vigor that he did in “Daredevil.” Jennifer Lopez, who did better acting in “Anaconda,” looks hot as all get out (although we all know when she stops working out, her famously ample rear is going to open up like a parachute) but her character falls apart when she opens her mouth. I just don’t buy her as a lesbian.
Now, I like lesbians as much as the next guy (especially if they look like Jennifer Lopez), but she comes across weak and stale. When she first mentions her sexual preference to Gigli, I thought it was a joke to keep away his advances for a night or two.
Do we really need another movie with Ben Affleck struggling with his hidden love for a lesbian? Wasn’t this territory, including a ten minute soliloquy by Lopez about why women are sexually superior to men, already driven into the ground in Kevin Smith’s “Chasing Amy”? Even if you’re one of the rare Kevin Smith fans like me who didn’t like “Chasing Amy,” you’ll have to admit that aside from seeing Lopez in some revealing clothes, “Gigli” offers nothing more.
The director of this enema on celluloid is Martin Brest, who has had quite a distinguished career in Hollywood over the years. This is the man who gave us “Beverly Hills Cop,” and he saw Oscar gold with Al Pacino in “Scent of a Woman.” So, why does he give us this gut-wrenching piece of garbage that has a fresh-from-film-school, first-feature feel to it?
I thought that Brest would have learned his lesson about letting films breathe with his previous bomb, “Meet Joe Black,” which reportedly had a 90 page screenplay but dragged on for three hours. Get an editor, for crying out loud! Hollywood is full of them.
Instead, Brest chooses to linger on shots of Ben Affleck thinking, gobbling up more than two hours of the audience’s collective lives. The running time is 121 minutes, and if in a moment of weakness you drag your sorry butt to see this film, remember that you will never, EVER get that 121 minutes back. And there’s so many better things you could do with that time – like wash your car, do your laundry or try to calculate the last digit of pi.
Brest dug into his trunk of favors and has bit parts played by Al Pacino and Christopher Walken. While Pacino’s part is pertinent to the plot (and I must admit one of the few enjoyable moments in the film), Walken’s performance is just embarrassing. His character serves as blatant exposition handled with less subtlety than a “Gilligan’s Island” episode.
If the performance chemistry between Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez is really as bad as it comes out in “Gigli,” than Kevin Smith better do a furious rewrite on “Jersey Girl” before it comes out or a Hollywood marriage won’t be the only thing doomed in this relationship.