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  • compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2003 1 Jan
from Film Forum, 08/07/03

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez are the most popular couple in the tabloids. And sure enough, their first film together—Gigli—is proving to be enormously popular as well … but not in the way they intended. Critics and moviegoers are forming long lines to take a turn at writing the harshest possible response to it.

Writer-director Martin Brest delivered a brilliant buddy comedy about cons when he made Midnight Run with Robert DeNiro and Charles Grodin—but that was in 1988. Afterward, he delivered the popular but overly sentimental Scent of a Woman, and continued to spiral downward with Meet Joe Black. According to the reviews, he may have just hit bottom.

The story concerns a dopey macho hit man who teams up with a brusque lesbian assassin (that is, she's an assassin, not an assassin of lesbians). Together they strive to protect a disabled child while also attempting to get along. In the strangest case of typecasting in a long while, Ben Affleck seems to be the actor to call when a script needs a male protagonist to persuade a lesbian to fall in love with him. (It first happened in Kevin Smith's Chasing Amy, a far superior film.)

David DiCerto (Catholic News Service) says, "Academy members may reconsider the Oscar they awarded [to] Brest in 1992 for Scent of a Woman after they get a whiff of this stinker." He writes, "Affleck and Lopez are not the second coming of Bogey and Bacall—or, for that matter, even Lisa-Marie Presley and Michael Jackson. [They generate] about as many sparks as matches in a monsoon. On a much more disturbing level, the narrative is fueled by a warped view of sexuality."

Holly McClure (Crosswalk) says, "Unless you have an unnatural curiosity to see Ben and J-Lo on screen together, save your money for their next movie together." (That will arrive in just a few months—Kevin Smith's Jersey Girl.)

Movieguide's critic says, "Possibly the worst movie in three years, Gigli is simply a bisexual propaganda movie that moral audiences will likely avoid, perhaps even boycott."

Steven Isaac (Focus on the Family) asks, "How many words would it take for me to convince families to treat Gigli like it's infected with West Nile Virus?"

J. Robert Parks (review pending at Phantom Tollbooth) says, "Of Gigli's many problems, the biggest is that we don't believe these characters. These two are the nicest hit men ever. We also don't believe that they could ever fall in love. Which goes to show you how bad the acting is, as Ben and Jen actually did fall in love." He adds, "The one great thing about Gigli is the chance to see Christopher Walken work. His five-minute cameo is fantastic and hilarious."

Mainstream critics compete for the most creative put-downs. Charles Taylor (Salon) is merciful: "[It] turns out to be merely bad—not a train wreck, not the crime against humanity it's been rumored to be."

But Peter Travers (Rolling Stone) says, "The only people likely to get a kick out of Gigli … are Madonna and her director hubby Guy Ritchie. Finally there's a movie as jaw-droppingly awful as their Swept Away."