Many critics have taken pot shots at movie Gigli. Not me. I think Gigli is an important movie. The kind of picture that should be studied at film schools as an example of what happens when well intentioned filmmakers go horribly, horribly off the rails.
Gigli (rhymes with “really”) is a train wreck all right, a movie so flawed it is hard not to poke fun at it. Rather than take the low road, (although I’m not sure I’ll be able to help myself), I thought I would have a look at why the movie is so deliciously awful.
Several pundits have proposed that the movie is taking such a drubbing in a hard-hearted reaction to Jennifer Lopez and her fiancée Ben Affleck’s newfound tabloid overexposure. I don’t agree. I wish them joy. I wish them a long marriage. I just wish they had made a good movie.
On Monday August 4 after the abysmal opening week-end tally had come in, Columbia spokesperson Steve Elzer announced, “We gave it our all, and it didn’t work. The filmmakers, the stars and the studio did everything we could to support this film.” No you didn’t Steve. You didn’t make a good movie. And that is what it boils down to.
So what’s wrong with Gigli?
Starting at the top we have Bennifer, known individually as J Lo and Ben Affleck. While the only awards that either of them are likely to win this year will be of the “Golden Raspberry” variety, both are competent actors. The kind of actor who has been helming Hollywood movies for decades, they are movie stars. For every Brando or DeNiro there are hundreds of others who job it is to simply look good and not bump into the furniture. Bennifer fits into this mold. In Gigli they look good, and seem to have their motor skills intact, but both seem in need of a Stella Adler refresher course.
Affleck, who shines when playing “Joe Average” roles, doesn’t bring any weight or believability to Larry Gigli. I didn’t buy him as a thug, and I certainly didn’t buy his accent which changed more often than his wardrobe.
J Lo doesn’t fare much better. As Ricki, a contract-killer lesbian with a suicidal girlfriend, she seems to be posing more than acting. It’s like watching one of her Glow ads come to life, only not as interesting.
Much of the blame here must rest directly on the shoulders of writer / director Martin Brest. The once solid director of films like Beverly Hills Cop and Midnight Run appears to be trying to test the endurance of his audience. Apparently anything he once knew about pacing or editing was thrown out the window sometime around the time he made Meet Joe Black. Mix the painful pacing with some ham fisted editing and you are left wondering if this film actually had a director. Gigli is easily half an hour too long, but feels much longer because of large dollops of repetitive dialogue and long “emotional” takes where it seems Lopez and Affleck are engaged in a staring contest. This might be a rare example of a film that could be radically shortened for DVD release and improved.
There isn’t much about Gigli that works. From the title that no one seems to be able to pronounce to the Archie Bunker-esque attitude regarding the mentally challenged and lesbians it is a failed exercise, and the only two people I could possibly imagine thoroughly enjoying it are the other media “it” couple Guy Ritchie and Madonna. Maybe now people will forget how appalling Swept Away was…