Archive for Thursday, July 31, 2003

Gigli’ a career disgrace for all involved

(R) *

July 31, 2003

Hollywood's most overexposed couple are now responsible for making
the most underdeveloped movie in recent memory.

How bad is "Gigli?"

Ah, where to begin ...

If the idea of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez playing hired hoodlums
isn't already enough to elicit an aneurysm, how about making their
kidnapping victim a mentally challenged teen (Justin Bartha). Then
throw in the fact that Affleck's title character is a mook who
believes he's the "original gangster's gangster" and Lopez a Chinese
philosophy-spewing lesbian.

How bad is the acting?

Bartha's performance may be the most cliche attempt at conveying a
disability ever put on screen. The rookie actor - whose previous film
experience consists of being a production assistant on "Analyze This"
- behaves like a theater major who watched "Rain Man" over and over
while smoking pot in his dorm room.

And did I mention that he raps? An adorable rendition of "Baby Got
Back," no less.

Affleck is persuasive when he plays an uptight yuppie (as in the
outstanding "Changing Lanes"). Yet in "Gigli" he struggles mightily
trying to make this sexist, dumb, profane lummox watchable. The Sha
Na Na haircut doesn't help matters.

That said, he's still better than Lopez. Clad in lo-rise jeans and
midriff-baring blouses like most assassins, the woman succeeds in
spending an entire movie talking about herself and never giving the
audience any clue what she is about. It's simply impossible to get a
handle on her character, and trying to "sex-it-up" through potty talk
only makes her more baffling.

(A scene where the fleshy diva does yoga while blathering about her
genitalia would be right at home in "The Vagina Monologues," but it
has absolutely no place in a "romantic comedy.")

How bad is the production?

Writer/director Martin Brest ("Meet Joe Black") comes across like a
filmmaker too afraid to yell "cut." He's so in love with his own
words - or so intimidated at leaving any of the blockbuster
celebrities' work on the cutting-room floor - that the movie
backslides into a competing series of monologues ... five-minute
monologues that feel longer than a senatorial filibuster.

This results in impossibly ill-conceived scenes such as a walk-on by
Christopher Walken as a nosy detective who pesters Affleck. There are
moments where seconds pass by without a word, movement or shift of
facial expression during this endless exchange.

This is the first time I've ever attended a screening where the
audience was screaming the word "edit!"

The only thing Brest seems to be good for is recruiting his old
"Scent of a Woman" collaborator Al Pacino for a role as an irate mob
boss. The Oscar-winner gives the movie its only tangible sense of
energy (courtesy of a long monologue, of course), and insures that
those who were already asleep will at least wake up for a spell.

How bad is the dialogue?

Usually, being exposed to profanity has little affect on me, but it's
so instantly invasive in "Gigli" that I started to count the amount
of F-words. I gave up when nearing 25 before the opening credits were
finished.

Brest must think he's (expletive)ing Quentin Tarantino or something.

In addition to the obscenities, viewers are treated to other lovely
turns of phrase. In one scene, Affleck uses his bada-Bing Crosby
charm to serenade Lopez about how "every relationship has a bull and
a cow," at which point he actually moos in her ear. This is rivaled
by her ensuing sermon on oral sex that culminates with requesting
that he "Gobble, gobble."

Don't worry folks, there will be even more talk of turkeys and cows
when the other reviews of the film start rolling in.

If nothing else, "Gigli" should prove that no amount of pop culture
exposure can get audiences into theaters when a movie is this
barbarously boring. Not even the combined publicity of all those
celebrity gossip shows, magazine covers, talk show appearances, album
sales, clothing lines, etc., will bail "Beniffer" out of this
abomination.

Considering Affleck and J-Lo's first professional coupling has
resulted in "Gigli," let's pray they never have children.

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