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Gigli

movie reviewvideo review out of 4

All-Reviews.com Movie Review: Gigli

Starring: Ben Affleck, Jennifer Lopez
Director: Martin Brest
Rated: R
RunTime: 100 Minutes
Release Date: August 2003
Genres: Action, Comedy, Drama


*Also starring: Christopher Walken, Al Pacino, Justin Bartha, Terry Camilleri, Missy Crider, Alex Fatovich, Shelby Fenner, Jenna Fischer, Brian Sites, David Pressman



Review by MrBrown
2 stars out of 4

In the months leading up to the release of Martin Brest's _Gigli_ just about the only positive bit of talk to emerge regarding the film was how its stars, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, fell in love and got engaged (though cynics would say that was the *worst* bit of news related to the film). Any talk of the actual film itself, mostly derived from anonymous Internet-spread reports, however, was downright brutal. Then came the usual tell-tale sign of a studio's lack of confidence: an eleventh-hour shift in the tone of the advertising campaign.

While there's no doubt in my mind Columbia Pictures and Revolution Studios don't have faith in the picture, the revamped promo campaign, which emphasizes the offbeat crime comedy element, is actually more in line with the actual film than the previous one, which rested almost entirely on the Ben 'n Jen romance angle. After all, while their respective characters, Larry Gigli ("rhymes with 'really,'" as he says early on) and Ricki, do engage in the expected love-hate sparring, they are both mob enforcers assigned an unusual task: to kidnap and then more or less babysit Brian (Justin Bartha), the younger brother of a federal prosecutor out to nail their big boss. Then to top things off, Larry's an oaf; Ricki's a lesbian; and Brian is mentally challenged.

Now, the above description--particularly that last sentence--may lead one to think that, as the vicious critical consensus maintains, _Gigli_ is indeed an all-time, all-star catastrophe of _Ishtar_-like proportions. While I can't come close to saying that the version of _Gigli_ seeing release is good, it certainly isn't completely devoid of charms, many of which derive from the character eccentricities and the actors' portrayals. The role of none-too-bright Larry Gigli gives Affleck an opportunity to translate his famously self-effacing off-camera persona to the screen to an extreme, and he obviously has fun with Gigli's buffoonish bluster--most of which is targeted toward Ricki, played with characteristically steely sexiness by Lopez. While Brest never really decides exactly what Brian's affliction is (autism? Tourette's?), Bartha nonetheless makes a pretty vague characterization on paper into an endearing person.

A greater sense of indecision is what ultimately plagues _Gigli_. Once Brest establishes the core trio of characters, he really doesn't quite figure out what to do with them. The film basically holes up the three of them in Gigli's apartment, and we wait along with them for something, anything to happen. In the meantime, though, there's a lot of talk--Brian making inappropriate outbursts; Larry doing a lot of would-be macho posturing; Ricki putting up no-nonsense defenses against his advances. While there undoubtedly are some good lines and memorable banter, particularly involving the latter two cases, a certain kick is gone because there's absolutely no suspense as to where the Larry/Ricki relationship is going; that Affleck's presence just brings to mind similarities to the superior _Chasing_Amy_ doesn't exactly help. Every now and again a different face pops up to stir the generally static three-character pot--Christopher Walken, Lainie Kazan, Al Pacino, Missy Crider as Ricki's lover Robin--but any jolt provided by each actor's single-scene appearance is fleeting and adds little to the bigger picture, if anything.

And that is the real reason why _Gigli_ is a problematic picture. It's not Ben, not Jen, not the media phenomenon that is "Bennifer"--not even the oft-quoted, now-infamous "turkey time" line, which actually works a lot better than one would think in its proper context. The film simply doesn't add up in the end, with many characters and plot points introduced only to be left dangling as it speeds toward a wholly unsatisfying, resolution-free anticlimax of a finale--all the more disappointing in that, at certain points, it appears that Brest and company were working their way to a point.

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