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Review: 'Gigli' is really, really bad

It's better than 'Swept Away,' for what it's worth

By Paul Clinton
CNN Reviewer

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez in "Gigli."

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'Gigli,' starring Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, is taking a beating from entertainment critics across the country. CNN's Peter Viles reports. (August 1)
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(CNN) -- OK, so "Gigli" is not the worst film in years. That dubious title still goes to "Swept Away," or maybe "Freddy Got Fingered." But "Gigli" is still a huge waste of celluloid.

In Hollywood, it's all about "what have you done lately," and despite such successes as "Scent of a Woman," "Midnight Run" and "Beverly Hills Cop," writer/director/producer Martin Brest has done nothing that can make up for this ill-conceived mess.

If miscasting was a crime, this movie would be proof of a felony. Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez fit their characters like a glove -- if the glove in question belonged to O.J. Simpson.

Affleck plays a low-level mob enforcer named Larry Gigli (pronounced like "really") assigned to kidnap a mentally challenged young man, Brian (think Raymond in "Rainman"), played amazingly well by Justin Bartha in his feature film debut. Affleck's real-life lady love, Lopez (they met during the filming of this movie), plays Ricki, another mob enforcer hired to keep an eye on Gigli.

Insult upon insult

It seems Brian's brother is a powerful federal prosecutor who is after a mob boss, played by Al Pacino. The plan is for the prosecutor to drop the charges against the gangster in order to get his brother back safe and sound.

Say what? In what universe?

Of course, Ricki and Larry fight like cats and dogs and hate each other from the get-go -- a sure sign that they'll be under the sheets by the second reel. And they are, despite the fact that Ricki is a lesbian.

Lopez plays a lesbian hitwoman sent to keep an eye on Affleck's hitman Gigli in "Gigli."

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Ben Affleck, who already did this in "Chasing Amy," is at it again. He's become "Benny the lesbian changer," the new secret weapon for the religious right. In all fairness, the ending was changed at the last minute after massive negative audience reactions in test screenings. This, however, is only the final insult after a film full of them.

There were obviously many changes made during the making of this cinematic train wreck. The story is all over the place: there is one really strange scene with Christopher Walken playing a cop, and then we never see him again. He's on the cutting room floor.

Wishing he were there too is Pacino, who appears in only one embarrassing scene.

Beyond the cringe

But the award for the most cringe-inducing moment goes to Lopez, for a scene in which she stretches out on the floor in every sexual position known to man while debating the pros and cons of female and male anatomy. I know, it sounds hot on paper, doesn't it?

The bad guy characters become good guys with no motivation, nor any visible cause or effect. None of the scenes seem to be connected to each other in any way; the entire film feels like it was edited on an assembly line, without feeling for rhythm or nuance.

At one point, Ricki's lesbian lover breaks into their "hideout" and tries to commit suicide. After comforting her in the hospital, Ricki runs back and jumps in the sack with the "lesbian changer." This is a comedy?

Brest showed such great promise in the 1980s with hit after hit, as mentioned above. Then, in 1998, he gave us "Meet Joe Black." Now he's given us "Gigli." He should remember that California is a "three strikes and you're out" state for criminal offenders.

"Gigli" opens nationwide on Friday, August 1, and is rated R.

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