Tuesday, January 13, 2004


I have to give the creators of Gigli credit. This isn't just a bad movie, it's a memorably bad movie. A standard bad film is one which you watch, perhaps checking the clock at some point, and then its over. It leaves no lasting residue in your brain. Soon you can recall only that you saw a bad picture recently -"What was it called..."

Gigli transcends this fleetingly recalled category. Some of the dialogue and plot holes are so dreadful that you find them permanently etched in your memory, from where you will frequently pull them in order to inform the world how bad it is. Unfortunately, its the kind of movie that you really have to see.

So during my vacation, we put Gigli at the top of the Netflix list and it arrived two days later.

Ben Affleck plays Larry Gigli, a low level mob thug who is assigned to kidnap the mentally disabled brother of a federal prosecutor. After the acquisition of said brother, Gigli is upset to discover that another contractor, Ricki (Jennifer Lopez), has been assigned to make sure he doesn't screw up. Although his pride is wounded at first and he lashes out angrily, he then decides that the situation isn't so bad, since he now has a hot chick seemingly at his disposal 24/7. On the occasion of their first bedtime, he flexes, preens and practices his lines in a dreadfully long mirror scene. He then puts the moves on Ricki, who deflates his balloon by informing Gigli that she is a lesbian. Hijinks ensue.

The unfortunate hijinks include bizarre dialogue, a cameo by Christopher Walken which leads nowhere, occasions where the characters' motivations eluded me entirely, an amusing but implausible cameo by Lainie Kazan, a couple of entirely predictable plot "twists" involving Baywatch and the entirely forced sexual tension between Ricki and Gigli, a moderately plausible (and of course well-acted on his part) cameo by Al Pacino (how they managed to sign him on I'll never know) and an ending that almost partially redeemed the preceeding film but which was followed by what appeared to be another scene tacked on after focus groups didn't like how it would have been left without it. Some of the dialogue and plot points are incredibly bad, but the badness doesn't really shine in print - live impersonations do the job much more nicely. Ask a friend who has seen it to recount the "pearls of wisdom" monologue. Leave the turkey time lines alone.

I have to admit that Ricki's monologue while she is quietly intimidating a group of teenage thugs was quite effective. Of course why they thought taking their much sought hostage out to breakfast in such a public place was a good idea... well, there you go.

I recall hearing that the ending was redone several times, and that some focus groups expressed a desire to see the two main characters suffer gruesome and painful deaths at the end. I think it would have been a better service to the world if the entire collection of raw footage had met a disfiguring and permanent shredding in the editing room. Since that didn't happen and the final product was unleashed on the world, you might want to check it out just to see how bad a wide-release movie can be.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 11:45 AM