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Gigli

Starring Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez
Written and Directed by Martin Brest
website: www.sonypictures.com

IN SHORT: As the character puts it, "Gigli rhymes with 'really.'" As in really awful. [Rated R for sexual content, pervasive language and brief strong violence. 124 minutes]

"Pervasive Language" means four letter "f" words start flying with Gigli's first sentence and don't let up until the story is done.

Blame writer/director Martin Brest or blame the suit that OK'd his vision but that vision needs contact lenses. Perhaps Brest or the suit figured it would be a clever idea to have A-list actors, playing unlikable characters engaged in disreputable jobs, placed in untenable professional and sexual situations. We're also guessing that the studio folks are counting on the real life romance between stars Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez to pique your interest and get you to open your wallets. It doesn't help that the screen chemistry between the two in this screenplay is intentionally invisible and only bursts out of the screen when the audience is staggering for the exits. "Staggering" is the appropriate adjective for a movie which mixes mobsters, kidnapping, murder, jealous lovers, lesbianism, incompetent police with a ridiculous amount of four letter words.

There's a big difference between being anti-politically correct, which is what Gigli is aiming for, and flat out vulgar, which is what Gigli is. We don't have a problem with four letter words. We do have a problem when those four letter words are just about all the characterization that a script provides. 50 minutes in to this bomb, one character yells "I'm getting tired of this!" In our theater, one audience member yelled back "Me too!" An hour after that we were still waiting for Gigli to decide exactly what its point was supposed to be.

You know the story. Boy meets Girl. Boy wants nothing to do with Girl. Girl could care less 'cuz she's job oriented. She's got other orientation issues as well but we'll leave that one alone. Boy isn't all that thrilled that girl isn't all that thrilled. Still, she's seventeen on a scale of one to ten so maybe, once they slice the thumb off the "mentally handicapped" kid they're holding hostage and mail it to his brother, there's always the hope of a ride into the sunset, together.

Wait. It gets better.

No. It doesn't.

Gigli is a pissing match between sexually incompatible people -- there is a sex scene which, when it finally happened, had the femmes sitting behind us muttering "This is absurd" -- debating the proper places of male and female (or bull and cow in this vernacular) in a theoretical relationship. It is also supposed to be, ultimately, romantic . . . and we all know that romances are never funny, especially when an enraged ex (Missy Crider) gets in the way. But we're getting ahead of ourselves.

Larry Gigli (Ben Affleck) is a dumb, tattooed mook from New Jersey. He is muscle for an LA based mobster named Louis (Lenny Venito), who wants to score points with a New York-based "friend of a friend". This mobster, Starkman (Al Pacino), is in trouble with the Feds so Louis sends Gigli to kidnap the local Federal prosecutor's brother Brian (Justin Bartha) to put extortion pressure on the Fed. Unbeknownst to Larry, a philosophy reading, too hot for words hit man called Ricki (Jennifer Lopez) -- is brought in from out of town because the job is just "too big" for one man to handle.

How big is " too big"? Not so big that Gigli's already done the human heist without the interference of any security organization at the group home where these poor kids drool their days away. While Justin Bartha doing a Rainman imitation with lots of four letter words in his dialog is occasionally entertaining, we're paying to see a different bond being formed. That pairing, unfortunately, offers little to hold our interest for the next hour and a half. It's supposed to be the old oil and water miraculously mix thing but it's all smoke and mirrors. Gigli's script is more a debate about sex roles without the charm of tart tongued sex comedies of old.

On an almost regular schedule, right out of a "how to write screenplays" book, come the occasional conflicts designed to add tension and/or amuse or shock. Sure, Detective Jacobellis (Christopher Walken) shows up for a couple of entertaining minutes. He's pretty much figured out the kidnap game but doesn't do a damned thing about it (that would get in the way of developing the impossible man woman subplot). Ditto the appearance of Lainie Kazan as Gigli's mother. She gives a hearty thumbs up to her son's "adventurous" gal pal (and her scene offers the longest obscenity free minutes of the film). Lest you fall in danger of nodding off, the film's third conflict point is a meeting with the psychopathic mob boss Starkman to keep our "heroes" on edge. It's all Pacino shtick but the actor does more with his five minutes on screen than any of the other actors do with whatever time they get. That says a lot because Lopez' performance wipes the floor with every other actor in the film.

Seriously, Lopez is that good. In this case, Jenny's block is the gutter. Gigli is a stunning bore of a movie but Lopez is stunning. Ok, now we're talking about the body, too. Excepting one obvious omission in the script, and given the sexual bent of all of the conversations we can't figure out why her character cannot use the phrase "don't get your panties in a twist," Lopez delivers the only major performance that rings true. We don't believe Affleck as a mobster from Jersey. We don't Walken as a detective. Kazan and Pacino are mostly disposable shtick though, rounding out the supporting cast, Larry Venito is dead on as the loser mobster and we recognize him from similar roles.

J. Lo does show off her fab bod while talking dirty, which makes Gigli the equivalent of phone sex without the phones or any element of sexuality.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Gigli, he would have paid . . .

$1.00

So much for this year's power couple -- We suffer through the PR blitz on a new pair every couple of years. Anyone remember Alex and Kim? We wish this couple better luck.

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The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.