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"Gigli" - Movie Review

"Gigli" - Movie Review

Genre:  Comedy, Crime, Romance

Rating:  R (for sexual content, pervasive language and brief strong violence)

Release Date:  August 1, 2003

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

Director:  Martin Brest

Special Notes:  Now I know why they had to re-shoot several scenes for this movie – but even that didn't save it. The ONLY reason people are going to see this movie is to see Ben and JLo on the big screen together. So for that very reason, I'm going to be as specific as I can get in my review so that you can spare yourselves from seeing this movie.

WARNING! Out of the need to alert parents to the elements that are inappropriate for their teenagers, I reveal a few plot points. So read no further if you don't want to know details about content.

Plot:  Ben Affleck plays the not-too-bright thug named Larry Gigli (rhymes with "really"), who is ordered by his not-too-bright boss Louis, to kidnap Brian (Justin Bartha), the brain damaged younger brother of a powerful federal prosecutor. Louis thinks this dramatic act will ultimately help his boss (Al Pacino) escape some serious charges. But Louis gets nervous and sends in Ricki (Jennifer Lopez), a gorgeous female gangster who happens to be a proud lesbian and the model of self-sufficiency. As the two try to take care of Brian and wait for further instructions, they begin to feel conflicting emotions that could be hazardous to their situation and relationship.

Good:  Billed as a "romantic gangster comedy" from the guy who gave us "Scent of a Woman" and "Midnight Run," this unusual, wanna-be black comedy is a rare example of a movie that began filming with two well known stars who have since become "super stars" because of their off-screen romance and who now are bigger than their roles in this movie. A year and a half ago people would have gone to see this movie for the story and acting. Now the main attraction is to see how these two romance each other on the big screen – forget the weak story or the silly characters (which is why this movie wouldn't make it without them.)

Bad: This is one of the worst movies I've seen in a long time. It's watchable only because of the curiosity factor over Ben and JLo and saved only with brief appearances from stars like Christopher Walken and Al Pacino. There are no shoot-outs, car chases, exciting action, or anything else that would make you think this movie is about crime, thugs or a kidnapping. Aside from a guy being shot in the head (blood splatters and we see the bullet hole) and a dead man's finger getting cut off (nothing graphically shown), there's just Ben and JLo talking, kissing and mostly verbally sparring with sexual innuendoes. The directing is scattered, scenes look like they were improvised, the premise is ridiculous and the dialogue (if you want to call it that) is probably the most profane, obscene and absolutely horrendous exchange of banter between two characters that I've listened to in a long time. I can't begin to print the conversations that take place between the two stars. Never mind the "F" word being used in almost every sentence or the other profanity. I'm talking about sexually suggestive conversations between a man and a woman about their anatomy. I sat with a girlfriend, and we both agreed that if we had gone with a date we would have been even more uncomfortably embarrassed … it was THAT bad. In the first place, these two movie stars have reached a huge celebrity status because of their real life romance (which now makes it almost impossible for them to be taken seriously in a movie together). No matter what characters they play, the audience still sees Ben and JLo together, and quite frankly it ruins the movie. But assuming you can get beyond who they are, their characters are sad and confused. JLo is, of course, beautiful and seems like she's smart. But her character is also a lesbian (her ex-girlfriend shows up to beg for attention by slitting her wrists) who tries to convince Larry that he's really a 'feminine guy' underneath his tough exterior and that he needs to recognize that side, subtly pushing the theme of lesbianism to a new obnoxious and ludicrous level in film. Ben's portrayal of Larry is actually the part I believed most. He has an endearing, but not-too-bright, quality to him that's actually charming as he interacts with his mother (humorously played by the incredible Lainie Kazan). He tries to remain manly while with a lesbian girlfriend and ultimately comes to terms with the fact that he hates his occupation/life and wants to better himself. Obviously Brest felt it necessary to get in touch with his feminine side. His attempt at getting Larry to become more in tune with his feminine side so that Ricki can be attracted to him (and ultimately wind up with him) is absurd. A supposedly tough mobster that needs to be in touch with his feminine side so that a lesbian could fall in love with him? Yeah, right. Yet another prime example of the levels writers will stoop to in Hollywood just to promote the gay agenda. I'm hoping that today's cultural tolerance (which seems to be bordering on "overload" from hearing about the homosexual agenda in politics and every time we turn on the TV or go to the movies) will backfire on movies like "Gigli" and give "Hollyweird" a wakeup call. Brest also should have realized that Bartha (as the mentally challenged person) began playing his character with certain physical characteristics and quirks (upper lip curled under, staring down all the time, profanity flying out of his mouth uncontrollably at first, then he never does it again in the second half of the film) and finished the movie by acting almost "normal." Tom Hanks' "Forrest Gump" or Dustin Hoffman's "Rainman" he is not. Brest even misused Walken and Pacino by using them in only one scene when they could have possibly salvaged the plot by giving them more – another obvious waste of talent.

Bottom Line: Unless you have an unnatural curiosity to see Ben and JLo on screen together, save your money for their next movie together ("Jersey Girl" releases in February 2004). Hopefully it will be better than this movie or their romantic career (together on screen anyway) may be in trouble. Parents, by all means don't let your teenagers waste their time or money on this movie. And the same advice would go well for any adult who plans on seeing it.