“You just never fucking know.”
Yes, the trailer looked bad. Yes, reshoots and multiple release date changes are usually a bad sign. Yes, J-Lo and B-Aff are overexposed… But does that mean the movie during the shooting of which they met must be bashed like it’s the end of civilisation? I find it so pathetic to see the critical establishment elbowing each other to come up with the most hyperbolic pan of a movie they had decided in advance would suck. “Damn you movie stars for being so good looking and rich and happy!” I say forget about all the bad buzz. “Gigli” is no masterpiece, but it’s not the worst film of all time either. Heck, just this year I’ve seen at least two dozens films that were more flawed.
Ben Affleck stars as Larry Gigli (“rhymes with really”), a low rent hitman who’s hired to kidnap the little brother of a federal prosecutor who’s about to send Gigli’s boss to jail for a very long time. The catch is that Brian, the kidnappee, is a retarded schizo Rain Man-type with Tourette who desperately wants to “go to the Baywatch”. He’s played by Justin Bartha, who’s alternately annoying, funny, sad and offensive but never boring, which has to count for something, right? And then you’ve got Jennifer Lopez’s Ricki, a soft-spoken but brutally honest lesbian contract killer who drops in to make sure Gigli doesn’t screw up.
Most of the film is about the interaction between Larry and Ricki. The pacing is uneven, the dialogue is sometimes overwritten poor man’s Mamet and the characters are rather inconsistent, but despite what you’ve heard Ben and Jennifer actually have chemistry. Gigli tries to be the macho alpha male (“I’m the bull, you’re the cow.”) when deep down he’s a big softy, maybe even a little gay. It’s great when Ricki calls him on his bullshit, even though her own thoughtful/spiritual persona is as much of an act as Larry’s brash bravado.
This being a Hollywood movie, even though these two are diametrically opposed and get on each other’s nerves you just know they’re gonna fall for each other eventually. She might be gay, but that never stopped Ben Affleck! Martin Brest’s script is not on the level of Kevin Smith’s Affleck-seducing-a-dyke Chasing Amy, neither is it in the ballpark of Out of Sight, with which it shares a sexy and funny Lopez and the general feel of Elmore Leonard’s novels. Yet this IS a character-driven, playful film with some insights into modern sexual politics, not to mention hilariously demented one-scene cameos by scenery-chewing Christopher Walken (“I’d like… to get some… pie… with ice cream on it… Mmm… AND PUT IT ON YOUR HEAD!”) and Al Pacino (“Wake up! It’s the TWENTY FUCKING FIRST CENTURY!”).
So there. You want to stomp on a “worst film ever!”, try watching unfunny racist dreck like “Bringing Down the House”. There are some bad things about “Gigli”, like the intrusive score, the misguided retard-who-makes-the-tough-guy-rethinks-his-ways gimmick or the botched ending, but even when it doesn’t work it remains more entertaining than a lot of tidier flicks.
“You just never know.”