Sony // 2003 // 121 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // February 10th, 2004
"Life doesn't play by the rules" or "Gobble, gobble!"
Welcome to what the press has dubbed Battlefield Earth: Part II. Lambasted by critics across the globe, possibly even the universe, Gigli entered and exited theaters faster than you can say "Ben-Lo." Is this film really the Ed Wood-ian disaster many have made it out to be? Starring Ben Affleck (Good Will Hunting, Daredevil) and Jennifer Lopez (The Wedding Planner, The Cell) and directed by Martin Brest (Midnight Run, Scent of a Woman), Gigli arrives on DVD care of Columbia Home Entertainment.
Meet Larry Gigli (Affleck) -- a small-time hood with a big time attitude. Larry's been given an assignment by his boss Louis (Lenny Venito, Gigli), who is doing a favor for a big wig New York hood: kidnap Brian (newcomer Justin Bartha), the mentally handicapped brother of a federal prosecutor. However, Louis doesn't trust Larry to do this job on his own and sends in another hired hand, the stunningly beautiful Ricki (Lopez). At first Ricki and Larry don't mesh, mostly because Larry is a pigheaded sexist and Ricki is an outspoken but seductive lesbian. But their mutual dislike quickly turns into a crush, then sex, then...well, I'm sure you can see where this is all headed.
On to the review...
Let's talk about Ben and Jennifer for a moment. Unless you live near the Andes in a rustic cabin without electricity, you know all about Ben and Jen's carefully scrutinized relationship (update: they've apparently just broken up! The horror...the horror!). If J-Lo has a cup of coffee on Friday morning, six billion people know about it by Friday afternoon. Ben's been grilled about his romantic life more often than a Burger King Whopper. When Gigli was announced it was, to say the least, easy pickings -- rumors immediately circulated that there was no chemistry between the film's stars. Even worse is that Gigli was ripped to shreds before it was even released theatrically. Everyone assumed it was a movie of epic badness and wasn't afraid to say so, even though many hadn't seen the film yet. When it finally did hit theaters in 2003 the critics weren't just harsh; they were venomous. After everything was said and done, it appeared as if Gigli was quite possibly the final sign of the impending apocalypse.
I'm here to tell you that's bull-honky. Contrary to popular belief, Gigli is not the worst movie in the world, not by a long shot. In fact, Gigli is often sweet natured and funny, a shock considering so many hated it. This leads me to wonder how many truly disliked the film and how many just decided to jump on the bandwagon. Lopez and Affleck have chemistry. The problem is they've been given an inconsistent script off which to play. I didn't love Gigli, or really even like it a lot. But I was entertained by the performances and sometimes that can be enough.
Ben Affleck plays Larry Gigli with rough machismo then slowly becomes a man of slight integrity. While his transformation isn't always convincing, the performance is admirable and at times even likable. Lopez, an actress who's grown on me, is smart (at least smarter than Larry) and sexy. Lopez knows how to command the screen with ease. She purrs her lines like a woman on the verge of pouncing; her rattling monologue about which is sexier, the penis or the vagina, is worth the rental price alone. Better yet are two notable cameos by an effeminate Al Pacino and a crazy-eyed Christopher Walken. Each are on-screen for only 15 minutes or so, enough time to leave an indelible impression in the viewer's conscious. Pacino seems to be channeling one of the characters in Queer As Folk while Walken...well, he walks onscreen, gives us a typical bizarre Christopher Walken performance, then shuffles out just as abruptly.
This isn't to say that decent performances save Gigli. There is a reason why it wasn't well received by audiences and critics alike. The screenplay, by director Brest, is sometimes rambling, often meandering, and doesn't make much sense. If these two characters are supposed to be hiding a mentally challenged boy, would they really go for a breezy Sunday drive in a convertible? Plot inconsistencies such as this mar the film, often pulling the viewer away from the sometimes-clever dialogue. Even worse is newcomer Justin Bartha as the mentally handicapped Brian. He does whatever the screenplay requires him to do -- i.e. shows up for comedic effect -- then moves into another room so the two main characters can make doe eyes at each other.
Whenever a movie is lavished with praise, while hyped by audiences and critics, there's bound to be a let down when you finally see it. The same holds true for a movie that is bombarded with horrid reviews. Nothing is ever bad as it seems and that's certainly the case with Gigli.
Gigli is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. I don't have any major complaints about this transfer . Columbia Tristar has produced a fine image with solid colors and black levels. I noticed no defects in the image. Not a smidgen of dirt or edge enhancement is present, though a small amount of haloing is present. Overall fans of the film will be happy with the way this transfer looks.
The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround in English. The bulk of this track is front heavy, save for the mellow, well composed musical score by John Powell. There are a few instances where surround sounds / directional effects kick in, though they're few and far between. Also included on this disc are English, Chinese, Korean, Thai, and French subtitles.
Not surprisingly, Gigli's special features have been kept to a bare minimum. The only supplements included on this disc include a few theatrical trailers for various Jennifer Lopez movies (Anaconda, The Wedding Planner, etcetera).
You want terrible movie making? Check out the films of Doris Wishman (A Night to Dismember) or Meir Zarchi (I Spit On Your Grave). Having heard such horrible things about Gigli, I didn't find it to be intolerable at all. At the very most I think it's worth a rental.
Gigli is found guilty on a few minor issues, but don't you think the film has already done enough hard time?
Review content copyright © 2004 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 121 Minutes
Release Year: 2003
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Theatrical Trailers
* Official Site