Gigli (2003)
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Review Date: August 09, 2003
Director: Martin Brest
Writer: Martin Brest
Producers: Martin Brest, Casey Silver
Ben Affleck as Larry Gigli
Jennifer Lopez as Ricki
Justin Bartha as Brian
A half-assed mob enforcer is asked to watch over a mentally challenged kid until his boss can figure out a way to blackmail the federal prosecutor who calls the kid his brother. Until that time, the mob boss also asks another enforcer, a hot lesbian one, to "help" the half-assed enforcer with his task. The two share duties of overlooking the kid, but at the same time, go back and forth with their own sexual, love and relationship mind-games. The worst movie of all-time (according to some, but not moi) ensues...
First of all, this movie is far from being the all-out piece of shit that everyone and their great-uncle seems to be saying. In fact, how could all of these people be saying that it sucks the royal penis when box-office figures are telling us that barely anyone saw it in the first place? (it's currently rated as the Worst Film of All-Time on the IMDB) All that to say that the general ravaging of this movie by other film critics made me want to check it out myself. What did I think? Well, it ain't that bad, to be honest with you. In fact, I thought it was a decent romp during its first half with cute chemistry between the two leads, some funny moments from Affleck, a great job by Justin Bartha as the mentally challenged kid and even an ounce of potential. Unfortunately, it doesn't really go anywhere after that, and despite a continued interesting back-and-forth between Lopez and Affleck, scenes ultimately go on for too long, extended monologues take up too much time, the characters all use "big words" which make no sense in their line of work and the final 20 minutes are just overly-sentimental and unsatisfactory. It isn't a horrible movie, by any means though. I thoroughly enjoyed Affleck's goofy "trying to be a tough guy" character all the way through, and even though I didn't buy his accent in the commercials, I bought it in the movie and I especially loved his solo "bull" conversation in front of the bathroom mirror. Funny stuff. Lopez was also decent, but her character was a little too smug for my taste. I've just never been a fan of self-righteous characters in any movie, so despite looking really hot and providing for a solid performance, I would have lightened her character up a little. Neither character is entirely believable as an "enforcer" though-upon hearing that they have to cut off someone's thumb, they both suddenly grow consciences?

By the way, I would like to thank the filmmakers for slapping Lopez in as little clothing as possible in a number of scenes, but would also require further explanation as to why she's completely "robed up" during a love-making sequence? How does that work?? The hottest couple in Hollywood are in the throws of passion and the only one flying birthday suit is Big Ben? Pleaaaaze! But what ultimately breaks this film isn't its mediocre screenplay, overly-written dialogue or over-the-top score (this ain't a friggin' Oscar flick, folks...knock it down a few notches), it's the element that has broken many a film before and will break many more in the future and that's its incapacity to balance humor and drama effectively. Martin Brest is no James L. Brooks. There are some films that are able to successfully balance stupid, funny moments with tender emotional ones, but this movie isn't one of them. Some of the humor made me chuckle and some of the emotional angles worked, but on the whole, it just didn't seem to know what it wanted to be. Its finale is a prime example of just that. Ironically, it apparently re-shot its ending after disastrous test screenings, but I can't imagine it being much worse than the dragged-out one here. Incidentally, for fans of both Al Pacino and Christopher Walken, pay close attention because both actors make one-scene "cameos" here. Pacino is fun to watch, but goes totally "Pacino" at the end of his huge monologue (someone should have told Brest that this film's dialogue was just too long at points-then again, this is the same dude who made the 18-hour long MEET JOE BLACK), while Walken is a blast as usual, but he too, seems to be "playing Walken" to a certain extent.

So is the movie as bad as they say? Absolutely not. It's a passable romantic comedy with hints of drama and not much story, but if you dig the two leads, want to see what all the fuss is about and don't mind watching a mentally challenged kid swear and sing along to rap music every now and again (and no, I'm not talking about Eminem), give it a whirl. Oh yeah, did I mention J-Lo's monologue about how "pussies" are better than "penis", the spread-eagle she offers Affleck before asking him to "gobble-gobble" down on her and the "joke" she makes about "sucking his cock for 12 hours straight"? No? Well, that's in there too.
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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