Gigli (2003) — The infamous Bennifer bomb

“It’s turkey time. Gobble gobble.”

Clare’s rating: Oh it’s turkey time alright. This goose is cooked. Put a fork in it. It’s done. Does anybody else have a really lame, cooked turkey joke that would work here? If so, Martin Brest wants your resume on file for his next film.

Clare’s review: Gigli is bad. You all knew that. Anybody who’s ever seen it and a few people who haven’t would tell you that it’s bad. Certainly it’s been propped up and beaten to death in the media for its resoundingly agreed upon badness. It’s bad for any number of very obvious reasons. The story is indecipherable, meandering, pointless and stupid. The dialogue is ridiculous in some places, boring as all get out in others and just plain confusingly stupid in yet others. The characters are a myriad of weird combinations of really reprehensible, really annoying and really boring.

I blame the writer/director for the majority of the glaring problems in this film. And I’d say he should take at least equal blame with the cast for the atrocious acting here. Where do I start with the acting? It’s wall to wall to wall bad. Just unbelievably bad. Worse than I was expecting and I wasn’t expecting much. I think what bothers me about how bad the acting was is that everyone in the movie (besides Ben Affleck, who I’ll get to in a minute) has done really great acting other places. (Jennifer Lopez was great in Out of Sight and Christopher Walken and Al Pacino are highly revered for their acting talents and have been for decades). So you sit there knowing that they’re better than this material, but there’s nothing you can do but watch as they all run around making complete fools of themselves by discrediting all their prior good deeds. It’s depressing.

So yes. Everything you’ve heard about Gigli is true. It sucks.

However, it is my sincerest hope that some good might come from this train wreck. It would be a wonderful present to me, as a person who loves to watch good actors act well, if this movie effectively ends any chances that Ben Affleck might have to do any more acting ever again. As horrible as it was to watch talented people hand in shoddy performances based on really weak material, it was PAINFUL trying to sit through Affleck struggling endlessly to bring life to his character by using EVERY SINGLE overwrought tough guy staple you’ve ever seen and executing every last one of them really, really badly. This is in addition to the horrifyingly unconvincing, um, New Jersey (?) accent. Or maybe it was an Italian accent? Or maybe it was his sh***y Robert Deniro from Taxi Driver impersonation. Whatever it was, it was a fricking abomination.

I loved Affleck for a while after he won an Oscar (for WRITING Good Will Hunting, not ACTING in it) and he seemed like a down-to-Earth, smart, self-deprecating, humorous and charmingly regular guy who had a lot of potential creative stuff to offer the film world. Then he endeavored with ninja-like focus and agility to bankrupt, discredit, disprove and crap all over any illusion he may have created (or stumbled haplessly into) that lead us to believe he was anything other than a perpetually smirking douchebag.

So let this review serve as my official notice. After years of giving Affleck chance after chance after chance to prove himself to me, I hereby officially decree that he has more than earned his place in the Inexplicably Famous But Inarguably Crappy Actor Hall of Shame. Forget the long string of hot (and persistently temporary) high profile celebrity girlfriends. Forget the “charming” impressions he does on every talk show he appears on. Forget the overly white teeth and the too slicked back hair and the bad tattoos and the giant forehead. I’m not interested in bitching about how lame he is as a celebrity entity. I want you to focus your attention on how low-rent, two-bit and resoundingly UNspectacular he is as an actor.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but here is a partial list of the movies Affleck’s appeared in since he won his Oscar for Good Will Hunting. I dare anyone to argue with me about how certifiably TERRIBLE his performances were in each and every one of these films. Sure, maybe some of these movies survived despite his shortcomings as a thespian, but that doesn’t erase the stink lines that emanated from him every time he uttered a line or struggled limply to emote his way through them.

Phantoms, Armageddon, Forces of Nature, Dogma, Boiler Room, Reindeer Games, Bounce, Pearl Harbor, Changing Lanes, The Sum of All Fears, Daredevil, Gigli, Paycheck, Jersey Girl, Surviving Christmas.

That’s fifteen movies. Fifteen hackneyed performances. Fifteen wince-inducing attempts at convincing me he’s still got anything to offer that’s worth my time and hard earned money. Fifteen failures at achieving that goal. I’m done with Ben Affleck. Ben Affleck is dead to me.

PoolMan’s rating: [shirleybassey] Where do I begin to tell the story of how bad a flick can be? / A gangster story that’s dull as dull can be. / The simple truth of what Ben Affleck’s done to me. / Where do I start? [/shirleybassey]

PoolMan’s review: Ah Shirley, you said it. Where do I begin? Gigli is, for all intents and purposes, one of the worst movies in history. For those amongst you sadly afflicted with Blue Car Disorder (ooh, look, a blue car!), that’s really the Coles Notes version right there. I actually have seen worse, but it’s been a while since I’ve seen a contender like this one to unseat The Doom Generation. I think the only thing it could have used was useless and confusing gratuitous violence, maybe a castration. That would have sealed the deal nicely.

As it is, Gigli is really awful. To put it in perspective, my friends and I rented it on a Friday night with the express intent of mocking it, kung fu/MST3K style. We couldn’t even do that. It just sucks the life out of the room around you. And what laughs it does manage to garner are completely accidental and at its own expense. I mean, what’s the world coming to when you rent a bomb of a movie on purpose and can’t even make proper fun of it because it’s busily slurping down your cerebral cortex?

Gigli’s story is a rather simple one (gasp!). Larry Gigli is a “contractor”, an overused term meant to imply he works freelance for minor crimelords (probably the best scene in the movie is the very opening when he’s interrogating a man by stuffing him in an industrial sized clothes dryer). He gets a job from a talkative and completely unintimidating thug named Louis to kidnap the mentally handicapped little brother of a federal prosecutor who’s giving a partner of Louis’ some trouble in court. Gigli complies, but is annoyed to learn that Louis has assigned another contractor to the job to keep an eye on him. This second contractor is Ricki, a lesbian who seems just a little too into Asian war literature.

Now, right away, the alarm bells are ringing. Louis makes it abundantly clear that this job is crucial. Why assign Gigli to it if he doesn’t trust him completely (and it’s clear he doesn’t)? Why complicate matters by bringing in someone else to hamper Gigli’s progress? Why wouldn’t both contractors be told about it? And how tough a job is it anyways? Go kidnap a young nutjob from his care home and sit on him for a few days. Definitely want to get as many hands as possible on this one!

No, it’s obvious that the whole thing is a poorly contrived story to maneuver tough guy Gigli into position to give Ben Affleck the cinematic opportunity to convert a lesbian back to the hetero side while exploring his manly feelings. I mean, this is pretty much Chasing Amy meets Goodfellas, without any of the appeal of either of those fine films. Throw in the mentally challenged kid, and you may as well call it a day.

Most frustrating of all is the fact that here and there, I could see a decent movie almost pop its cute lil’ head up. The very opening scene I mentioned above, in which Gigli addresses the camera directly as the point of view of a man he’s about to rough up for money owed to Louis is actually an interesting way to start a movie. I could see it wanting to not follow itself with nearly two full hours of SUCK. But like almost every scene in Gigli, it eventually collapses under the attempt to sound deep and cool whilst failing miserably at both. I mean, for a movie about GANGSTERS, you’d think there’d be more than one gun in the whole movie. But no, there’s just one. Not that I’m promoting handgun violence, mind you, but it’s not every day that a gangster subdues his enemies with a three-minute-long diatribe over which sex has the superiour genitalia.

Yeah, you read that right.

Another case in point. Ricki decides rather than risk a scene in public with their hostage, she’ll scare off a gang of high school hoodlums by describing a supposed martial arts technique that not only blinds the victim, but also tears out the part of their brain that stores visual memory. All well and good, but it takes FOREVER, and when it’s finally done, it’s followed up with a completely unnecessary “you kids stay in school!” message that undermines the tone of the whole message. Imagine if Pulp Fiction’s infamous “and I shall lay my vengeance upon thee” speech by Samuel L Jackson was immediately followed with “Now. Go home and do your homework, and would it kill you to help your mom with the laundry?”

Now, let’s talk about the cast, shall we? I want to go on record as saying this: casting “Bennifer” as the two lead roles was a really bad idea. Considering Affleck and Lopez were an item in real life while this movie was being made, they had all the chemistry of a grade school play about recycling. It’s too bad the nickname “The Chin” has already been given (affectionately) to Bruce Campbell, because it would suit Affleck just fine as the place where people would line up to hit him with a bat after this flick.

Jennifer Lopez (or J-Lo, or Day-Glo, or Way-Slo, or whatever the kids are calling her these days) is a terrible choice for the role of Ricki. Just awful. She’s certainly not a convincing thug, can you believe her as a lesbian? And while I perked up momentarily both times when Christopher Walken and Al Pacino (who I didn’t know ahead of time were in the movie) appeared, their scenes rapidly came undone until, once again, we were left with an overlong soliloquy about wearing ice cream on your head. I mean, neither of them was bad as a performer, but not even these two could save this material.

And then there’s Brian. Hoo boy.

I promised my wife I would craft a list of people/things this movie would insult. This seems as good a place as any to get to work on that: besides that obvious category of “people who movies”, you have gangsters, lesbians, straight guys, cops, teenagers, bikini models, actors, laptop and flashlight manufacturers, philosophy students, tattoo artists, martial arts students, R&B; and rap artists, corpses… the list goes on. But at the top? The mentally challenged.

You see, Brian is played as not only a magic mental cripple with a heart of gold (who is so obviously inspired by Rain Man it’s a wonder they didn’t cast Tom Cruise as his brother), he’s also portrayed as a wannabe gangsta horny teenager whose sole aspiration is to see Baywatch being filmed. I can’t make this stuff up people — there are already overpaid people in Hollywood doing it for me. Watching how the actor (whose name I can’t even be bothered to look up) chose to portray whatever mysterious mental illness he was supposed to have was just downright insulting. Inconsistent, insensitive, incomprehensible. Stupid.

There’s lots more to go on about, but I’d like to leave a little bit of this dead horse for future generations of Mutants (no doubt living in colourful moon colonies in utopian bliss) to clone and beat. Easily the worst movie I’ve seen since my first trip to Justin’s apartment, and not even in a fun way. I can take a bad movie when it’s got enough life to it to make fun of (see: League of Inexplicable Gentlemen), but this was just crap. The prophecy is fulfilled, the end is near. Gigli got filmed.

Didja notice?

  • Affleck’s seemingly robotic half smirk regardless of the actual emotion any given situation might actually call for?
  • That apparently it’s okay to make fun of developmentally disabled people as long as you make them huggable, horny and down with the homies.
  • That Christopher Walken and Al Pacino apparently have child support payments they’ve gotta hustle to cover. Why else would they be here?
  • For a character who immerses herself in such famous literature of The Art of War, Ricki never does much to actually back up her claims of being able to kick everyone’s asses, does she?
  • Why does Gigli pretend to use his flashlight as a walkie-talkie to fool Brian when he has a CEL PHONE right there in his pocket?
  • I’m really, really sure a plastic fast food knife can cut through human tissue that quickly.
  • Ah good, a suicidal ex-girlfriend! We needed some comic relief.
  • Possibly the greatest line in the world: “Turkey time.” Had every woman in the room rolling with laughter.

One comment

  1. Did you hear, these two are back together!! WOOOHOOO! Fingers crossed for a Gigli 2! Or maybe South Park can give us a return of Flat Butt and Pancake face!

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