Romantic comedy. Mob spoof. Dysfunctional family melodrama. Rain Man Redux. Indeed, Gigli wishes to have a little something for everyone. Because Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez fell in love on the set of the film, it’s difficult not to look at this mess as a vanity project tailor-made for the couple and targeted at anyone who gets their daily celebrity dish from the E! network. But any gossip-monger going into the film may be turned off by the relationship problems the characters attempt to negotiate. When a confused Affleck stares into the horizon at the end of Martin Brest’s creepy-crawly romantic comedy, it’s anyone’s guess what’s running through the actor’s head. Think of him as a Columbia exec who has to contemplate both the surreal uplift he’s managed to orchestrate by bringing a mentally handicapped teen lothario to the set of a would-be Baywatch location shoot and the likelihood that he’ll get his own “Hollywood ending” as recompense. He does get it, but said ending is so cleverly vague that it should not only excite those most likely to embrace this claptrap but also keep GLAAD at bay. Sure, New Age mob contractor Ricki (Jennifer Lopez) inevitably hops in the sack with the thoroughly repulsive Larry Gigli (Affleck), but the film doesn’t so much suggest that a Guido can scare the lesbian out of any woman cloyingly fond of Pilates as much as it acknowledges that sex is oftentimes a mission of mercy. Because Brest spends much of the film’s running time torturing his audience with a series of on-screen home invasions (characters are constantly barging into rooms and causing elaborate scenes, but the film’s genre-indecisiveness is certainly more offensive), it’s difficult to follow the otherwise shabby plot. Ostensibly, the story follows Ricki and Gigli’s attempts to kidnap a federal prosecutor’s mentally handicapped younger brother, Brian (Justin Bartha), and use the kid as leverage in a case against a hot-tempered low-life played by Al Pacino. Gigli pretends to be a sophisticated comedy of the sexes yet it’s written with the adolescent gusto of a 50-year-old who’s finally discovered that a penis goes inside a vagina. I admire the film’s curiosity and weirdo tone, but Brest has nothing genuinely profound to say about the sexes. When the hypocritical Ricki isn’t soothing Larry’s savage beast with useless metaphoric banter (he says: “In every relationship there’s a bull and a cow”; she says: “The mouth is the twin sister of the vagina”), Bartha’s curious idiot savant (who’s seemingly afflicted with Tourette Syndrome as well) provides more immediate and deliberate comic relief. Despite your better judgement, you may want to stay past the film’s mid-point or you’ll miss Bartha launching into an impromptu performance of “Baby Got Back” when Affleck begins to hack off a dead man’s thumb using a plastic knife. The horrible noise evokes the much sweeter sound of turntablism and doubles as a nod to Lopez’s infamous posterior. If only any other scene in this brain-dead film was anywhere near as clever or original.
- Martin Brest
- Martin Brest
- Jennifer Lopez, Ben Affleck, Lenny Venito, Justin Bartha, Lainie Kazan, Christopher Walken, Al Pacino
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