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Gigli By Matt Singer
It must be bad when the employees at the theater showing the film haven’t even heard of it. “Which movie?” one teller asked when I said I wanted one for Gigli. “Is that that Giggly thing? I dunno what that is...” said another. They worked at the theater, but clearly had never heard a customer request a ticket to this terrible movie with the bizarre title. As if you hadn’t heard plenty of times already, I regretfully report that Gigli is as bad as you heard and, in some instances, worse.
Gigli (rhymes with “really”) is Ben Affleck’s character, a low-level mobster with a very thick Italian accent, who is given the task of kidnapping a retarded man named Brian (Justin Bartha) and hiding him in order to exact pressure on some sort of witness in some sort of trial for some sort of Mafioso that is alluded to a few times but never seen on screen. A second contractor named Ricki, played by Jennifer Lopez, is brought in to watch Brian and Gigli, because Gigli has a bad reputation, at least that is what we are told, though we never see why. Ricki is also a lesbian, though as you also are no doubt aware, Affleck’s wily, hairy-chested charms win her over by film’s end. Lopez looks gorgeous but her hitman/lesbian is even less convincing than Affleck’s thuggish accent; she does nothing to indicate she can kill someone, and indeed the only time she is a witness to bloodshed she recoils in horror.
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Director Martin Brest is also credited with writing the Razzie-worthy script, and it is there that we can place most of the problems. For while I don’t care for the casting of Affleck or Lopez in these roles, it seems possible to make a film in which the duo play sexually teasing killers, but that movie would have to convince us that these people are capable of such actions and Gigli, which could very easily be translated to a stage play since it takes place almost entirely in Gigli’s apartment, shows us nothing. The characters waste their time and ours jabbering at each other; and what’s worse, they don’t even seem to be interacting. Rather, they take turns pontificating on the horrors of gangster life (which we don’t see) or the joys of female genitalia (which we don’t see either), rambling through never-ending monologues that are supposed to sound intelligent. Since sitting around an apartment makes for a pretty boring movie, the monotony is broken up by a few glorified cameos by Christopher Walken and Al Pacino, which is good for about three seconds of “Hey! It’s Christopher Walken and Al Pacino!” before they each launch into their own bizarre and pointless speeches. Walken’s, which, as I recall, was about pie-eating and space aliens, is weird even by his standards. At least Bartha’s Brian has mental illness to blame for the gibberish he spouts (Funniest example: “God bless my penis!”).
You keep waiting for something, anything to happen, and it never does. Somehow, Brest was allowed to make a mob movie with no monsters, a love story about characters we don’t like and don’t care about, and a story with no climax, no ending, and no tension. There is talk about reshot endings - which are very obvious to spot thanks to some very different looking hairdos - but why didn’t anyone consider reshooting the rest of the movie to give it some sort of propulsive energy. Making your protagonists sit in an isolated apartment without even offering cutaways to the trial they are supposedly affecting is ludicrous. And no matter what the ending was originally (supposedly, it called for Gigli to die which did not jive with test audiences) it couldn’t possible be any worse than the theatrical ending, a bizarre Beach Party for the Mentally Handicapped.
Affleck fans will recognize the lesbian-turning angle from Chasing Amy and wonder why the actor would choose to retread that idea again after doing it in a far more realistic movie once (What’s worse, Chasing Amy director Kevin Smith has to try to sell his own Bennifer movie as “not Gigli”). Lopez fans will continue to wonder where the amazingly sexy actress from Out of Sight went (My guess: she’s hiding out on the block somewhere). No one will see this thing, but it’s legacy will live on; “gigli” has been added to the lexicon as a new word that means a huge disaster. For example, one could say “I got an F on my history paper. It was a total gigli!”