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Gigli: Ben and J Lo's disastrous union

Arthur J Pais | August 01, 2003 19:29 IST

A low point in the career of most people involved with the movie, Gigli may be best remembered for the on-going romance between its stars Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez.

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez in GigliMartin Brest, who wrote this story filled with unbelievable twists, directs it with equally unbelievable incompetence and confusion.

Many in Hollywood believe the film was a victim of interfering studio bosses and underwent reshooting, cutting and recutting.

Brest, of course, is the maker of the over-rated but interesting melodrama, Scent Of A Woman (whose Oscar-winning star Al Pacino is utterly wasted here).

Gigli seems on its way to becoming arguably the most reviled big budget film of the year and could gain a worse reputation. Some reviewers and commentators including Eleanor Ringel Gillespie of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution have already started calling it one of the worst films of all times and add that it makes legendary dogs like Hudson Hawk and Ishtar look like small failures.

Unless there is a miracle, people may not even remember its short but mysterious title. The film reminds us that Gigli (pronounced  'zhee-lee') rhymes with 'really.' What's in a name, you may want to ask, especially if it has to do with an enormously silly and confusing film.

Ben Affleck plays a thug called Larry Gigli who has kidnapped the mentally challenged brother (newcomer Justin Bartha) of a powerful law official. Gigli hopes he will please his boss who has an extortion scheme lined up.

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While he is getting the brother to his seedy apartment, Gigli teams up with an attractive woman called Ricki (a terrific looking Jennifer Lopez who also performs better than most of the actors) who he presumes is in the same business. 

I am not giving away any fine point in the script when I say Ricki is indeed a hit woman sent to baby-sit the dim-witted Gigli in case something goes kaput.

Ben Affleck in GigliSoon there is sexual tension between Gigli and Ricki, who cannot be swayed away from being a lesbian. The encounters do not engage and one wonders at times if the sexual teasing is going anywhere at all.  

Just when you think you have seen the worst, Al Pacino turns up as a henchman in an embarrassingly hammy performance 

Christopher Walken, in a cameo, provides a few laughs as a police detective who shows up at Gigli's apartment with the air of someone unsure of himself.

One of the major problems in the film is the script. Brest doesn't seem to have known how much of a real villain Gigli should be. Whenever he appears to be a man with a sadistic heart, Brest lends the character redemptive traits.

There is nothing wrong in writing characters filled with contradictions. The writing, however, should be convincing.

After doing a reasonably good job in films like Changing Lanes, Affleck is often lost in big budget films like Daredevil. Here, he is even more ineffective than in his worst film, say Daredevil.

At least the latter did some brisk business at the box office; Gigli will need a big miracle to draw and sustain a significant number of viewers.

Cast: Ben Affleck, Jennifer Lopez, Justin Bartha, Al Pacino, Christopher Walken
Direction, story: Martin Brest
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
Rating: R for sexual content, pervasive language and brief strong violence
Running time: 120 minutes

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